Fire-Damaged Wal-Mart Reopens in Great Shape

Wal-Mart customers are once again shopping at the store at Chatham Plaza across from the Oglethorpe Mall. The store was shut down all day yesterday after an early-morning fire in the garden department. Shoppers say it doesn't even seem like there was a fire there yesterday.

"No it doesn't, and it doesn't smell like it," said shopper Bill Bacon. That's because employees have been there through the night from Wal-Marts all over the area. "To help us do the floors, shine the floors, wax the floors, stock the freight," explained assistant manager Kenneth Bowles. "Just a total team effort by everyone here last night to get the store open for our customers."

Loyal customers like Myrtis Gibbons. "We have a Wal-Mart in Hardeeville where I live, but I still come over here," she said. When she saw the news about the fire last night, she told us, "I hated it."

But looking at the clean floors, fish that are still alive, and even the clean ceiling tiles, she says she is happy to see the store is the same and even cleaner than it used to be. "They did a good job cleaning," she said.

Bill Bacon came by yesterday. "Yesterday morning I could smell the smoke outside," he said. But like Gibbons, he can't even tell there was a fire. "I am amazed they were able to open up today."

The sprinkler system helped to contain the fire, so there is only a small section of damage, and the employees who turned the people away yesterday greeted them back today. "Everything worked out really well for such a tragedy to turn into a triumph," said Bowles.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com