LORIS, SC (WMBF) - A furniture store that has been a fixture in the small city of Loris for decades went up in flames Sunday morning.
The Loris Fire Department received a call at about 9 a.m., reporting smoke from the Carolina Furniture Company, located at 4232 Broad Street, according to officials with the department. When firefighters arrived, huge flames were coming out the building.
Multiple units from other fire stations, including Horry County and Tabor City, responded to assist, and it took over two and a half hours to put out the flames, officials said. A ladder truck was used to attack the fire with water hoses from above, and a brick wall helped to keep the fire from spreading.
The building was a complete loss, fire officials confirmed, but no other businesses in the area were affected. There were no injuries, as the business was closed today and no one was inside.
David Cox has owned the business for over a decade, and explains watching the fire destroy his livelihood was like hearing a loved one had passed away.
"It's a feeling like...I don't know. If someone calls you and says someone you love died, and your knees go weak. It's kinda like that," says Cox, speaking of what was going through his mind when he got the phone call this morning.
"I just fell on the floor and started weeping...it was my life. It involves more than just history and home, it's what I did," explains Cox.
He stood on the sidewalk, recalling his favorite memories of the building that is now rubble. He said his children basically grew up within the walls that are no longer standing.
"It holds a lot of sentiment for me. It holds a lot of my kid's pictures. Things I wanted to keep safe, I kept in the building for safekeeping. And now, they're ashes," says Cox.
Built in 1946, the Carolina Furniture Company was serving as a consignment store since 2008, with multiple businesses selling items including Avon, fabric, antiques, and other collectibles.
"Locals would come in here, not just to shop, but to visit and see what's going on," said manager Ernie Ross. "It's like a gathering place for everybody."
It is a loss the entire community is feeling.
"It breaks my heart to think about the hours, the sweat and tears that went into this place," Cox said. "It was more than just a building to me, more than just home, it was everything. It was my life."
Crews will be on scene for most of the day fighting hot spots and making sure no flames will re-ignite, officials said. The assistant fire chief was knocking down walls Sunday afternoon, and making sure the area is safe. SLED is being called in to investigate.
The business is closed on Sundays, no one was inside during the fire.