Business

Sumter Casket owners may stay in business despite losses

About 90 firefighters from multiple agencies battled a five-alarm fire for more than five hours Monday afternoon at Sumter Casket Co. The fire destroyed two buildings owned by the company at 209 S. Magnolia St.
About 90 firefighters from multiple agencies battled a five-alarm fire for more than five hours Monday afternoon at Sumter Casket Co. The fire destroyed two buildings owned by the company at 209 S. Magnolia St. The Sumter Item

Fire investigators worked until about 3 p.m. on Tuesday putting out hot spots at Sumter Casket Co., 209 Magnolia St., where about $1.5 million worth of structure and contents were lost during a large fire Monday.

On Monday, firefighters arrived at the scene shortly after 12:45 p.m. to see two of the buildings at the location in flames, one completely engulfed.

According to Sumter Fire Department Division Chief Brian Christmas, a portion of one of the buildings was left standing. The undamaged part of the building is estimated at $100,000, and the estimated amount of contents saved is $50,000, he said.

Christmas said the business' offices were destroyed in the flames, but part of the warehouse on site was undamaged. The portion of the building left standing is about 125 feet by 50 feet wide, he said.

"I think they are going to try to create some office space there for the time being and try to get the business up and going again," he said.

Estimated damage is about $750,000 for the structures and $750,000 for the contents, Christmas reported. The business was insured, he said.

Michael James, owner of Sumter Casket Co., was not available for comment.

Also, some roadways surrounding Sumter Casket Co. were closed off during most of the day on Tuesday while officials cleared debris that was blown into the streets during the firefight.

According to Christmas, pressure from the water hoses blew bricks and debris into the streets.

Sumter County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Ken Bell said fire investigators stayed after 3 p.m. on Tuesday to inspect the site in search of a possible cause for the blaze. Bell is working with Sumter Fire Department to provide information to the public about local fires.

Christmas said the investigation for a cause of the fire is continuing and nothing has been determined. He said the process is a slow one and there is no time frame for when the investigation might be finished.

Christmas said he will issue a news release once a cause of the fire has been determined.

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