Employees, Cleaners Work to Reopen Fire-Damaged Wal-Mart

"We're closed": a store greeter waves customers away.
"We're closed": a store greeter waves customers away.

The Wal-Mart on Abercorn Street has been closed down all day after an early morning fire in the garden department. No one was injured in the blaze, but the store has heavy smoke and water damage. Wal-Mart greeters turning customers away is not something you see every day, but after the fire, they had no choice today.

"There's an area of about ten, 20 feet that sustained burn and heat damage," explained Chief Ronald Butler of the Savannah Fire Department.

The employees of the store got out okay, with sprinklers keeping the flames in a small location. But the smoke and water filled the rest of the building, leaving a big mess and an unusable store. So Wal-Mart associates who were off work--and even some from other stores in the area--came to help out.

"During tough times, people come together and do what we have to do for the sake of the store," said store manager Sharon Love. "We're just doing a cleanup, starting from one side of the store, cleaning and touching everything."

Employees can't do it all by themselves, so they brought in a professional cleaning service to help get the store open sooner. There are cleaning services for the floors and other services are deeming what merchandise stays and what has too much damage. "The Department of Agriculture came and did a walkthrough of all the food areas and gave us a list of things to get on condition," said Love.

The store hopes to reopen by tomorrow. Fire officials are blaming the blaze on a short in an  electrical socket.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com