Business owners, community react to Lafayette Village fire as investigation continues


MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – A massive overnight fire in the Lafayette Village area of Mount Pleasant left three businesses fully engulfed in flames and their buildings deemed as a total loss. Many business owners and community members say the fire was a devastating sight to wake up to as Fire Marshalls continue to investigate the cause of the early morning fire.

Flames could be seen rising from the roof of Jean’s Bridal, Auto Money Title Loan, and IHT Accounting, reducing three Mount Pleasant businesses to just piles of ash and rubble.

Crews with the Mount Pleasant Fire Department, North Charleston Fire Department, City of Charleston Fire Department and Charleston County all responded to the scene. Calls for assistance came in just after midnight.

“But it was pretty much fully ingulfed by the time our fire department was alerted,” says Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie.

Nearby business owners say they were woke up with texts and phone calls alerting them of the fire.

“We weren’t sure which buildings were involved and you kind of freak out when you hear that news,” says Peter McGrath who owns McGrath Law Firm just two doors down from Jean’s Bridal.

Auto Money Title Loan, IHT Accounting and a Mount Pleasant staple in Jean’s Bridal were all impacted. Neighboring business owners and town leaders say the bridal shop’s owner, Jean Wellmon, would do anything for her community.

“Well anything like this is just sad, it breaks your heart,” says Mayor Haynie. “The building was somewhat iconic to us. I was a patron of Jean’s and have been for years.”

“Jean who owns the shop is a great person, she’s been there a long time,” says McGrath.

McGrath says he knows Wellmon and her bridal shop with bounce back from the fire. McGrath says he’s thankful his law firm suffered only minor damage due to the fire.

“And today our computers are not working and the soot has filled the building,” says McGrath. “The disaster relief people say we have to shut down.”

Crews from the Mount Pleasant Fire Department remained on scene much of the day Thursday fighting hot spots, assisting the businesses and working to find a cause of the fire.

“ATF is on scene as well, they’re going to be apart of the investigation along with the Fire Marshalls from our department and that’s just to make sure they can do a big thorough investigation,” says Captain Matt Tidwell of the Mount Pleasant Police Department.

Thursday night, business owners and a community are left picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the overnight fire.

“So it’s pretty upsetting and I think everyone is okay and thank god nobody was in there,” says McGrath.

“And our community just needs to come around our local businesses and let them know that this is Mount Pleasant and we take care of each other and we’re here for each other,” says Mayor Haynie.

A Mount Pleasant fire fighter was the only reported injury during this morning’s fire, they were treated and released on scene. Investigators say there is no time frame at this point to determine a cause of the fire.

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