Public Square fire guts 2 businesses, damages others
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Two businesses were destroyed and three other buildings suffered smoke and water damage when a major fire erupted on the Darlington Public Square late Friday night. Crews from at least four fire departments responded to the blaze, which was reported around 11 p.m. No injuries were reported. “A true show of teamwork tonight,” Darlington Mayor Curtis Boyd said on his Facebook page. “ … Job well done.” Destroyed in the blaze were the Jewelers Bench at 60 Public Square, which sold jewelry and repaired watches, and an antiques shop next door at 62 Public Square. The first and second floors of the building housing those shops seem to have been gutted, and the back wall of the Jewelers Bench is gone – it apparently collapsed; you can see through the building. Debris was piled behind the building. Three adjoining buildings suffered varying degrees of smoke and water damage, officials said – the building housing Darlington Office Supply; the James Building, housing Edward Jones Co. and attorneys’ offices; and the former Wells Fargo building, housing county economic-development offices. A line of vehicles from A&I Fire and Water Restoration was parked in front of those buildings Saturday. Agents from the State Law Enforcement Division were on scene Saturday. “SLED will investigate the cause of the fire,” said city spokeswoman Lisa Chalian-Rock. Virtually the entire Darlington Fire Department responded to the blaze, which appears huge in photos taken during the night even though it was concentrated in the building housing Jewelers Bench and the antiques shop. Aiding the DFD were the Darlington County Fire District, the Hartsville Fire Department and the Palmetto Rural Fire Department, officials said. The Windy Hill Fire Department provided assistance at the city fire station.