GEORGETOWN, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said Thursday that Georgetown will rise through the ashes after a fire that swept through the coastal city's downtown.
Haley visited the scene of the fire and told reporters that "Georgetown is open for business." She encouraged people to visit the stores and businesses that are still open.
The governor said it was mainly small mom-and-pop businesses that were hurt by the Wednesday-morning fire that destroyed at least seven buildings in the city's shopping and dining district along the waterfront. She said the entire state needed to help their neighbors out.
"We are going to step up for Georgetown like they've never seen and we're going to do for the people of Georgetown and it starts today," Haley said.
The fire started around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and raced through the structures built in the 1800s. The buildings have a common attic and wood fronts that allowed the blaze to spread quickly.
It was the kind of blaze city firefighters feared because the buildings are so old and so close together, Georgetown Fire Chief Joey Tanner said.
"We lost seven buildings, but we saved the rest of the city. That's a testament to the firefighters," Tanner said.
State and federal investigators spent Thursday looking through rubble to figure out how the fire started. Tanner said they have not reached any conclusions.
Georgetown Mayor Jack Scoville said damage from the fire will be in the millions of dollars.
There were no injuries although several pets died.
The city says on its website that Georgetown was probably the site of the first European settlement in North America, in 1526. The third-oldest city in South Carolina, Georgetown was founded in 1729 and became an official port of entry three years later. The city of 9,000 now touts itself as a destination for vacationers and retirees.