Fort Mill fire blamed on Duke; Utility calls it ‘accidental’

mharrison@fortmilltimes.comFebruary 10, 2014 

— A Duke Energy Power line caused the fire that destroyed a downtown Fort Mill office last month, according to a York County Department of Fire Safety report.

The Jan. 23 fire occurred after a cement truck working on a parking lot on Tom Hall Street hit a Duke Energy power line pole. The wreck knocked out power to all of Main Street and other downtown areas, including the Whiteville Park neighborhood. Power was restored briefly, but then went out again for several hours after a problem occurred on the repaired transmission line.

It was the re-energized power line that caused the fire at Wild Homes, a custom home builder on Clebourne Street, the report states.

“The lines were repaired, but when the power was turned back on the surge burned through the line directly above the structure. The energized line fell on top of the structure, sparking the fire on the roof or over-energizing the building’s electrical system, causing the fire,” county fire investigator Donnie Helms wrote in the report.

“This fire has been ruled ‘accidental’ at this time. No further investigation will be conducted,” the report states.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

About 75 percent of the Wild Homes building was destroyed, according to Fort Mill Fire Chief Jeffrey Hooper. The owners of the business said they are considering taking legal action against the utility.

“We have sustained property damage, out of pocket costs and loss of business from a fire that was not caused by anything we did, nor an act of God,” co-owner Loren Wild wrote in an email to the Fort Mill Times.

Since the fire, Duke has said it was not responsible for the fire.

“The York County Department of Fire Safety report ruled this fire as ‘accidental’ and that mirrors our initial assessment,” Duke spokeswoman Meghan Musgrave said in an email to the Fort Mill Times.

Michael Harrison •  803-547-2353

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