Many businesses affected after East Bay fire - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Many businesses affected after East Bay fire

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As the daylight hours wore on throughout Tuesday, many business owners got a first look at how the fire at 213 East Bay Street would affect them.

Craftman's Kitchen and Tap House was scheduled to have their grand opening Tuesday. Those plans had to be canceled because the restaurant is in the building next to where the flames broke out early Tuesday morning.

Investigation into downtown fire suspended due to structural safety of the building

"I got a call late last night letting me know what was going on, and there wasn't much we could do at the time. We got down this morning to see assess the situation," Philip Fisher said.

It has taken the restaurant more than 15 months to put together plans to hold the grand opening on what Fisher said is the busiest week other than New Years Eve.  Even though he knows his business is in much better shape than the bars at the center of the fire, Fisher is worried about how the fire is going to affect East Bay Street.

"It kind of hurts the revitalization of East Bay Street. King Street has been having a lot of press and a lot of new openings. With us opening over here, we were definitely hoping to add one more good spot for patrons to come visit and now we have lost four," he said.

Things could have been much worse. 75 firefighters from across the Lowcountry responded to the fire. This is part of an agreement the city of Charleston has with fire departments in North Charleston, St. Andrews and James Island.

"The familiarity of each other's equipment allows these agencies to work seamlessly together which is a huge benefit to our community," Mayor Joe Riley said in a press conference Tuesday night.

While the fire was easily contained, Fisher knows this jam-packed block of bars and businesses won't be the same.

"Speakeasy, Brick, Light, Squeeze. Those were four staples of Charleston so it's definitely going to hurt losing them," Fisher said.

The fire scene turned into a makeshift tourist attraction as many looked on as fire fighters stood on duty to make sure hotspots did not flare up in the buildings. Residents of the apartment building next to the main fire were able to be escorted into gather some items.

East Bay Street was reopened around 4 Tuesday afternoon. Fire officials are still searching for evidence before they release the cause of the fire. Mayor Riley says the building will not have to be demolished. 

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