Arson the Cause of Fire at Williams Seafood - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/06/04

Arson the Cause of Fire at Williams Seafood

State and local investigators, as well as teams with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Agency spent hours on Monday sifting through the ashes. Late in the afternoon, officials announced that arson was to blame for the disastrous blaze. "They found evidence of three or four places around the business where the fire was deliberately set. They are not going to discuss the particulars like excellerants or anything like that," said Savannah Chatham Police Public Information Officer, Bucky Burnsed.

The fire happened around 6 A.M. Sunday morning. Eyewitnesses to the blaze said they heard several explosions before the fire broke out. The building, and everything inside it, was a total loss.

Williams Seafood has been a fixture in this community for decades. What started as a roadside stand in 1936, gradually grew into a world renowned eatery right there near the banks of the Bull River. But Sunday's fire gutted the restaurant, and took with it a half century of memories. Owner Tommy Williams reminisced about his pride and joy. "My grandmother and granddaddy started it in 1936, my mother and daddy started right after WWII and my sister, wife and I ran the business for the last 30 years."

On Monday, streams of cars passed by the historic site, and stared at the charred remains. Williams Seafood isn't just a loss to the owners and people who work here, it also hits home for generations of families have been eating at the restaurant. "We moved away for 35 years and when we came back we came to Mrs. Williams. Of course, our folks lived here, so when we came on vacation we would still come to see Mrs. Williams, " said patron, Jack Ohsiek.

The owners said it's still too soon for them to decide what they'll do next. But the community is hoping the Williams will rebuild, so another generation can enjoy the local landmark.

Police have not made any arrests in this case. If you have any information on who may have started the fire, you are asked to call the police or CrimeStoppers, at 234-2020.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly