After East Bay fire, F&B workers back each other up 

Reconstruction possible, but investigation could be stalled for weeks

A photo taken from the roof of an adjacent building shows extensive damage on the inside of 213 East Bay St., which firefighters hosed down for hours after a fire broke out around 1 a.m. on April 2.

Courtesy of Richard Littreal Jr.

A photo taken from the roof of an adjacent building shows extensive damage on the inside of 213 East Bay St., which firefighters hosed down for hours after a fire broke out around 1 a.m. on April 2.

Photos taken from the roof of buildings adjacent to 213 East Bay St. show extensive damage and a collapsed roof in the aftermath of Tuesday's fire, which shut down several popular bars. Meanwhile, friends of the business owners at Squeeze, Light, Speakeasy, and the Brick have set up a page on the fundraising website where people can donate money to help employees who were put out of work by the late-night blaze.

"After the fire, there are a number of employees who have poured so many drinks, cooked and served so much food, and been there when you needed them that now when they need us, it's an opportunity to step up and support them," the page reads. Donations will be split among the bars and given to employees who were affected by the fire.

Marc Gaskins, a bartender at Squeeze, says he and other workers from the affected businesses have been receiving "phone calls out of the blue" from other Charleston bars and restaurants offering jobs. "The food and beverage community has been very responsive," Gaskins says. On Wednesday, Salty Waters Rawbar & Grill on James Island announced that they would give a free meal to anyone who lost their income because of the fire.

The owners of the pink building at 213 East Bay, which county records indicate was built in 1900, say an initial engineer's report indicates the facade and all the exterior walls are stable, but one interior brick wall will require reinforcement before cleanup and renovation can begin. The building is owned by Yaschik Development Company, a Charleston-based company that leases to a limited partnership in Virginia, which in turn subleases to the building's business tenants. Tom Ervin, president of Yaschik Development, says he hasn't been in contact with the bar owners, but the company in Virginia tells him that it intends to help re-open the businesses "as quickly as possible" at the same location. When asked how long it could be before the building is restored, Ervin said, "It's far too early in the game to know that." In 2012, the building and the property were valued at $2.2 million, according to county tax records.

Charleston Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh said in a press release Wednesday that the Fire Department had a tentative meeting scheduled for today to review the scene with insurance company representatives. Julazadeh said the fire investigation has been suspended due to safety concerns. "We will work with insurance adjusters and insurance investigators to determine the best method to stabilize and determine if the investigation should continue," Julazadeh said. "This process usually takes several days to initiate and possibly weeks to implement."

Electrical power has been restored to the adjacent buildings, and restoration crews have been working day and night to repair damages. Richard Littreal Jr., director of sales and marketing at Paul Davis Restoration, says his company was working on cleaning the adjacent buildings and deodorizing the ductwork, a labor-intensive process that had crews working through the night on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. He has been inside the offices at the Maritime Building (215 East Bay St.) and the apartments in the white building to the left (211 East Bay St.), and he says he did not see extensive water damage in the buildings. "The challenge for them right now is many of them are living without heating or air," Littreal said Wednesday afternoon.


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