MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) A popular Murrells Inlet restaurant and pub went up in flames Wednesday morning, but owners say they are already planning to rebuild and hope to be back in business by the summer.
Officials with the Murrells Inlet - Garden City Fire Rescue (MIGSFR) said they were called to a fire at Dead Dog Saloon just off of Hwy 17 Business at 4:15 a.m. Crews from the Midway and Surfside fire departments also responded.fire crews were called to Firefighters on scene of a blaze at Dead Dog Saloon in Murrells Inlet Wednesday
MIGSFR Assistant Chief Danny Lussier said investigators believe the fire started on or underneath the back deck. He said flames quickly spread from the outdoor deck which surrounds a large oak tree, up the walls of the building and into the attic. Lussier added that natural gas lines broke, accelerating the flames for a few minutes until firefighters shut off the gas.
While officials say the kitchen is salvageable, they are considering the 6,000 square foot restaurant a "total loss." From the front of Dead Dog Saloon only roof damage is visible, but fire crews say the back of the bar, nearest the marsh, has extensive damage and is virtually "gone."
Despite the damage to the saloon, owner Charlie Campbell said he plans to open the popular MarshWalk restaurant again. His family wants to tear down the destroyed building and hopefully have a new one in its place by June.
"We got the call about four o'clock, my son did, and he came over and obviously was pretty shocked at seeing flames licking through the roof," Campbell said. "We're going to start rebuilding this as soon as we can knock the old one down, and we'll be back bigger and better."
Dead Dog Saloon opened in 2002, and it has hosted an annual firefighter fundraiser on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in America. Many people now call the restaurant their favorite in the MarshWalk area.
"I just hope they can rebuild fast enough and come back and have a great time," said patron Lin Emore.
Highway 17 Business in front of Dead Dog Saloon was closed while crews worked to put out the fire. The roadway was reopened just after 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Fans of the popular pub are lamenting its loss Wednesday morning on the WMBF News Facebook page.
"The Campbell family runs an awesome bar and grill," Vicki Engelhard-Cook said. "Love the outside deck with 200 year old oak! They'll be back, better than ever!"
Ann Jones remembers the 9/11 tribute done at the pub. "I love the 9/11 tribute with all the bands, Veteran support organizations performing and the awesome spread of food they put out!"
"Hope they will be able to rebuild," Melissa Newstat added. "We loved the Dead Dog - even the kids."
Share your favorite memories of the Dead Dog Saloon on our Facebook page right now.
According to business hours posted on the saloon's website, the pub was closed at the time of the fire and was not scheduled to open until 11 a.m. Wednesday.