Fire investigators are still looking into a suspicious fire that took out several businesses and a church at a shopping center off of US Highway 17 in Hardeeville.
Arson investigators are offering a reward to anyone who has information that could lead to the arrest of the person who started it.
Firefighters were called out to the blaze at about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning. They said the flames and smoke were so intense it took firefighters from four departments working several hours to put it out.
"It was an older building. It wasn't built to modern fire codes. There was no alarm system. We don't know how long the fire was burning before a passerby saw the smoke and flmaes and finally called 911. There was no smoke alarms, sprinkler system to keep the fire in check or give notifications to the fire department," said Hardeeville Fire Dept. Chief Daniel Morgan.
They said the fire started in the Mini Bar shop and quickly spread throughout the building, destroying five businesses and a church that just planning to hold their first service on Christmas.
"They are still investigating. They have put out a sign for the arson hotline. They are offering a reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone association with the cause of the fire," Morgan said.
On Thursday, business owners sifted through what is left of their businesses.
Hemangani Pandya, owner of a liquor store and mini mart in the center, said coming back day and seeing all of this has been tough.
"[It] makes me sick, makes me sick. We worked hard for this store for seven years," Pandya said.
She said that when the building went up in flames so did her livelihood.
"I see everything is gone. Everything [is] burned up," Pandya said. "So much money and more. Everything is gone, everthing."
She's not sure what the future will hold.
"I don't know yet. I don't know yet. We have no money to rebuild another store so I don't know what we can do," she said.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is investigating the fire. Those who have information about the fire can call the arson hotline at 1.800.92.arson.