‘Unbelievable’ blaze devastates family’s farm

By Bobby Bryant, Editor, editor@newsandpress.net

A fire Sept. 21 tore through as many as nine barns full of tobacco at a Darlington County farm, causing an estimated $225,000 damage and painting the sky with smoke that could be seen for miles.

The blaze at Griggs Farm (Sugar Hill Acres) in the Byrdtown community outside Hartsville “just cooked everything,” said Tim Griggs, an owner of the farm that’s been in business for about 60 years. “Big, black, rolling smoke.”

Four fire stations responded to the incident – the Darlington County Fire District and the Hartsville, Darlington and Patrick fire departments. Griggs said the county fire district “ran out of water. The fire was unbelievable.”

Griggs told the News & Press last week that fire investigators had been going through the wreckage. He said it appeared that the fire might have started from an electrical malfunction in one barn, possibly in the system that controls the temperature in the barn.

The fire started on a Saturday afternoon about 4 p.m.

“We came to put it out” while it was still confined to only one barn, Griggs said. “But it was blazing way too much. It was too rough.”

By the time the first firefighters arrived, Griggs said, the blaze had jumped to a second barn. It consumed at least eight, and possibly nine, barns in all, Griggs said; the family was still assessing the damage. The family said total damage could reach $225,000 or more.

Family member Jessica Griggs started a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the family’s losses. The page is at gofundme.com/f/fire-devastates-griggs-farm.

On the GoFundMe page, Jessica Griggs writes: “What started as a small fire in one tobacco barn … quickly turned into much more than that. Not one, not two or even three, but NINE tobacco barns were devastated by this fire. All of these barns were filled with tobacco, our most lucrative crop. In addition to losing the crop, we lost the barns and at least two very expensive pieces of equipment.”

“We are humbled by the outpouring of love and support and the prayers from our community and many, many people have reached out to know how they might be able to help,” she writes. “While we hope that insurance will cover some of what was lost, we are certain much won’t be covered. One single (used) barn will cost upwards of $6,000. A new piece of equipment will be well over $10,000.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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