CHESTERFIELD, S.C. - A massive fire erupted in the heart of downtown Chesterfield Tuesday night, damaging several businesses.
In viewer video sent to Channel 9, flames could be seen shooting from a building near South Page and Main streets.
The fire, which broke out around 7 p.m., engulfed two businesses that were destroyed, while several nearby businesses were damaged by smoke.
Channel 9 was told that 100 firefighters from nine departments responded to the scene of the four-alarm fire and worked for six hours to get it under control. Firefighters said it took another eight hours to put the fire out.
Firefighters stayed at the scene throughout the night, putting out hot spots, and many worked until noon on Wednesday.
Officials told Channel 9 that the fire likely started in the basement of the Pink Door, which is a boutique store, before spreading to Chesterfield Drug Co. and then a barber shop and a beauty store.
The owner of a nearby Mexican restaurant, Jose Salinas, said an employee from the drugstore next door ran in and warned them of the fire.
They evacuated the packed restaurant, where customers were enjoying Taco Tuesday.
"At first, they didn't think it was gonna be that bad, but then when they walked out and saw all the smoke come out,” Salinas said. “That's when they realized and everybody started running out."
No injuries were reported.
Kenneth Long, the owner of Long’s Drugs, said he received a text message telling him that his store was on fire.
“Love our old-town feeling and the pharmacy we had there,” Long said. “Of course, we've lost that."
While fire investigators are still working to determine the exact cause of the fire, officials told Eyewitness News that it does not appear to be suspicious.
Chesterfield Fire Chief Michael White, who's been with the fire department for 45 years, said the fire was the worst he has seen in his community.
“It’s devastating because people have their lives involved in the community, and some folks have lives involved in the businesses, and it’s just devastating to see that kind of loss,” White said.
Many of the businesses damaged have been around for decades -- some more than 50 years -- and it was heartbreaking for the owners to see the destruction.
"You just hate to see people's dreams go up like that,” Town Manager David Huntley said. “It's just devastating."
The fire came as those local businesses were set to participate in this weekend’s "Small Business Saturday" shopping event.
Connie Cooper owns Connie's Creative Cuts and told Channel 9 her business suffered smoke and water damage. She said the fire came at the worst time.
“Now there's going to be people without work here for the holidays,” she said. “It could have been worse, but it’s devastating.”
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