Officials suspend investigation into East Bay bar blaze

Published: Apr. 2, 2013 at 8:42 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 3, 2013 at 4:59 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - East Bay Street was reopened to traffic Tuesday in the area of the fire which ripped through a downtown building that houses several bars.

Northbound traffic was reopened on East Bay Street between Cumberland and Market streets a little after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. Southbound lanes were reopened about 45 minutes later.

Firefighters got the call just before 1 a.m. Tuesday for a report of a fire in the 200 block of East Bay St., across from the U.S. Custom House. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting about 20 feet in the air.

Charleston Fire Department officials say they have suspended the investigation into the cause of the fire because of safety and structural concerns with the building.

Mike Julazadeh with the CFD said fire investigators will work with the insurance company to determine if the investigation can continue after elements of the building can be stabilized. According to Julazadeh, the process may take several days to weeks to determine the best method to stabilize the building and continue the investigation.

Julazadeh said disaster recovery companies worked through the day on Tuesday to remove water from nearby buildings, and as of Tuesday afternoon power had been restored to the buildings.

Julazadeh said the sidewalk and the parking area in front of the building will remain closed for safety reasons.

We're told the fire originated in the building that contains the bars Light, Brick, and Squeeze. Firefighters had tried to make initial entry through the front of the building, but the smoke was too heavy and the heat was too intense.

They then brought in ladder trucks to fight the fire from the air. The fire department says it was able to mostly protect Wet Wilie's and Mac's Place, which are neighboring businesses.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Power to the building has been turned off and is expected to remain that way for several hours.

A tweet from @SQUEEZE_BAR reads "Prayers needed. Staff and customers safe - but we're sad to say the building is fighting a major fire."

Another tweet from @TheBrickCHS reads "Sad."

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