Nearly five years after fire claimed the original Bowen's Island Restaurant, a fire-related tragedy has again struck owner Robert Barber. According to neighbors, a blaze began at about 11 a.m. at Barber's home on the island, about 200 feet from his recently rebuilt restaurant. By 11:30 a.m., a plume of smoke had risen over the marsh and Bowen's Creek, about a mile across the marsh from Folly Beach.
Andy Weiner, who lives across the dirt road from Barber's house on the island, said he smelled smoke in his house at about 11 a.m. He searched around the house before discovering that the smell came from outside. Restaurant employees rushed to the scene but were unable to stop the already out of control fire or save the family's dog. A former member of the state House of Representatives, Barber ran for lieutenant governor of South Carolina in 2006 and comptroller general in 2010. He lost both times.
Fortunately, no people were in the house at the time of the fire. Barber was reportedly away on a fly-fishing trip in Nova Scotia and has been unable to be reached.
Bowen's Island Restaurant first opened in 1946 and suffered an almost debilitating fire in October 2006. Barber collaborated with local architect Carl Janes, reopening a new dining area and bar in 2010.
No official cause of the fire has been reported.