February 17, 2011

Early-Morning Blaze Destroys Mel's Garage

An early morning fire just doors down from the Rutledge Fire Station destroyed a Scotland County business on Friday, February 4th.

The two-story brick building that housed Mel's Garage, Inc., was fully engulfed by flames when the first responders arrived on the scene. A passing motorist on Route M had called the fire into the Scotland County Sheriff's Office at 2:52 a.m.

Fireman Galen Weiler reported the building was fully engulfed in flames when the first responders arrived on scene.

"The fire was already venting from all four corners of the building when we arrived," he said. "We concentrated on keeping the nearby propane tank and the fuel pumps cooled down."

Those efforts were successful, as firemen prevented any further damage from the two threats, a task that was made more difficult by the high heat levels being generated by tires and other highly flammable store inventory.

The Gorin Fire Department also responded to the emergency call. A mutual aid call was placed to the Scotland County Fire Department, but was canceled after it was determined the extra manpower would not be needed to keep the fire from spreading to any adjacent properties.

Weiler noted the firemen had to deal with freezing temperatures, but had only a few minor issues because of the weather. He stated the story may have been different just a few days earlier when temperatures dropped below zero, unlike the 20 degree temperatures the region witnessed on the night of the blaze.

The cause of the fire was undetermined due to the extent of the damage and the advanced nature of the blaze when the firemen arrived on the scene.

Mel's Garage is owned by Sanford Lem Martin. The auto mechanic shop was a total loss, but first responders did note that no customers' vehicles were in the shop area, preventing further loss.

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