Fire Destroys Tybee's Huc-a-Poo's - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/07/06

Fire Destroys Tybee's Huc-a-Poo's

Smoke and flames destroyed a popular hangout on Tybee Island just after sunrise today. Huc-a-Poo's Bites and Booze on the north side of US Highway 80, just as you come onto the island, caught fire around 7am.

Firefighters are still investigating, but they believe it was accidental.

Huc-a-Poo's was a small, quaint place where everyone knew your name. Owner Eric Thomas awoke this morning to his worst nightmare.

"I thought, I'm in big trouble," he told us.

He poured everything into this island hangout: his money and his heart and soul. "It's a lot more than money," he said. "There's a lot of stuff in there that means a lot to me and to a lot of people, it's tragic for sure."

He watched alongside some of his regular customers as firefighters doused his business, trying to put the fire out. "Just smoke everywhere and everyone busy," recalled customer Stephen Miller. "The fire department running around."

The fire started in the back of the building and quickly spread through the rest of the place.

Huc-a-Poo's opened up on Tybee six years ago. It was a popular spot for locals and vacationers to hang out. There used to be a fire pit there that everyone would gather around and enjoy the day.

"It's a place for mostly locals, almost like a little club house," said Thomas. "Same guys there every night."

Guys like Stephen Miller, who told us "It's just sad."

Even Tybee's mayor, Jason Buelterman, stopped by, in a way to pay his respects. "It's good to see all these folks out here," he said. "For Eric in particular."

And Eric still can't believe his beloved bar is gone. "I have to figure something out. I don't know what to think now, I have to wait and figure out a plan."

His customers hope that plan means rebuilding or relocating. They have insurance, but that's not much comfort right now.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com

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