fire-165575_640LINDLEY, SC by B J Beckman 

At 3:20 Monday morning firepersons from both Lindley firehouses responded to an alarm at 640 E Main, the site of the Homer Hampton Memorial Library in Lindley. Two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation at New Grace County Hospital and released.

Marion Joyce of Rosemeade said she first suspected something was wrong when she was driving down Main Street, “I couldn’t see any flames, but the sky seemed to be glowing. When I came around the bend I saw the smoke and called 911.”

A witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, reported being woke by the building’s alarm and seeing two vehicles leaving the parking lot right before the fire trucks arrived. The witness provided descriptions of the vehicles and a partial license plate identification.

According to New Grace County Fire Marshall Ruth Perkins she is not prepared to rule the fire accidental, an act of nature or deliberately set. She told reporters she does find that the hour of the fire and the witness’ statement combined with the controversial nature of the town meetings leading up to the opening of the new library warrant considering the fire suspicious.

“It is such a tragedy,” said Nathan Lee James of The New Grace Historical Society. The building, erected in 1862, was granted landmark status in 1987. Originally Hampton Mercantile and Grain, it remained in the family and was willed to the county upon the death of Homer Hampton in 2011 with the stipulation it be used as a public building or revert back to his estate. In April, 2012 city and county officials proposed that the building, which last housed a seafood restaurant in 2010, would undergo major renovations. It reopened to the public as a library less than two weeks ago.

 When asked if he thought the town would rebuild, Lindley’s Mayor Michael Bray had no comment.

 

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