Dryer cord sparks fire at Bowens Island Restaurant catering building

Fire destroys Bowens Island Restaurant catering building
Published: Aug. 13, 2012 at 8:19 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2012 at 8:05 PM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Fire investigators have identified the cause of a blaze that ripped through part of a popular Lowcountry restaurant early Monday, destroying a catering kitchen and spreading to a nearby business.

James Island and Charleston firefighters were called out to the Bowens Island Restaurant just after 1 a.m. early Monday morning after a report of flames bursting from the catering kitchen area.

Fire investigators say electrical problems with a dryer cord caused the fire. James Island Fire Chief Chris Seabolt says the dryer was located in the back corner of the catering kitchen.

This isn't the first time the restaurant owners have dealt with such a misfortune.

"I'm weary with fires. I'm grateful that nobody was hurt. I'm grateful that the restaurant building wasn't damaged," owner Robert Barber said.

In 2006, fire destroyed Bowen's Island Restaurant, which has been around since 1946. It was rebuilt in 2007. In 2011, the Barber family home burned to the ground after a fire that started with the dryer.

Barber says the fire this time didn't damage the main kitchen and dining room of the restaurant, but it destroyed the catering kitchen.

"City of Charleston and James Island both responded. We responded with five engine companies, three ladder trucks, and two battalion chiefs. That's about 45 people out there to work a structure fire," JIPDS Batt. Chief Thomas Glick said.

In addition to the catering kitchen being a total loss, the fire also spread to a nearby building, which was the storage unit for Charleston Outdoor Adventures.

"I'm very said about my neighbor's kayak equipment and business," Barber said.

COA is a rental company offering kayaks, paddleboards, and chartered boat trips. The company's equipment was lost or damaged during the fire.

"We've faced similar misfortunes and this is a much smaller one as far as the restaurant is concerned. We'll be alright and I know Joe (COA owner) will be alright. He's got a good positive attitude and we'll be alright," Barber said.

Barber says his family had just started work to rebuild his home that burned last year. He says at this time he isn't sure if the restaurant will rebuild the catering kitchen or not.

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