Fire destroys S.C. adult entertainment club; shuts down traffic for hours

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 8:24 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 7:51 PM EST
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HARDEEVILLE, S.C. (WTOC) - An early morning fire has destroyed an adult entertainment club in Jasper County, S.C. and forced police to shut down Highway 17 for several hours.

According to Jasper County Fire Chief Russell Wells, the establishment known previously as Club Karma on Highway 17 went up in flames before 2 a.m. Tuesday. The chief says a passerby saw fire around 1:50 a.m. Firefighters arrived at 2:08 a.m. to begin battling the flames.

The chief says they had to pull crews out for a bit because the flames were very intense. Fire crews had to work defensively on the outside to contain the fire.

Four other agencies responded to assist, including the Hardeeville Fire Department, Levy Volunteer Fire Department, and the Savannah Police Department closed the Talmadge Bridge to all traffic.

Jasper County Fire Rescue explained why they had to close off the highway that connects Georgia and South Carolina over the Talmadge Bridge.

“Unfortunately, we had to shut down Highway 17 which created a little bit of a traffic snarl this morning as you can see, we don’t have a distributed water system here so we had to shuttle water and when we begin shuttling water our closest water supply point was at the SCAD Equestrian Center,” Chief Wells said.

The SCAD Equestrian Center is just over a mile away so he says shutting down the road allowed them to bring water down 17 safely, and eventually put this fire out.

Chief Wells says the building was closed and unoccupied at the time of the fire.

Nicole McGough, house mom at Club Karma, says she was going through all the emotions, from anger to confusion to sadness - she didn’t understand how the place where she and all her coworkers make a living, is now just gone.

“And it’s sad, it’s really sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” McGough said.

Devastating emotion as a fire took away the way employees here feed their families.

“This is people’s livelihood. People come here to work, to dance, to entertain, to have fun, and now I have about 60 girls that have nowhere to go.”

She says it was one of those girls that called her with the news of what was happening.

“I finally answered when another one of my dancers called me and she was like ‘momma did you hear? The building’s on fire!’ and it still didn’t register to me because I was like no way we were all just fine, everybody was in there having fun, making money, no problems and now it’s gone.”

Through all that, Nicole is confident she and her fellow employees will band together and find a way through this.

The property’s owner, Wick Scurry, said he built this building in 1995 as he started it as a bingo club. Over the years it’s changed, and he’s leased the property to several different people, but his affection for it has always remained the same.

“It was a decent amount of income on a monthly basis that’s gone. Not only that, the club kind of meant a lot to me the building itself but you just go on with life,” Scurry said.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is still investigating the cause of the fire.

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