Phone Service Down After Fire Destroys Charleston Business

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About 1,000 Charleston residents are now without landline phone service after a fire destroyed a downtown business, Charleston Mayor Sherman Hiatt said Friday (Sept. 6).

"They can't call 911,” said Fred Hunt, a resident. “They can't call family for help, they’re in a tough spot."

Charleston firefighters and medical crews responded to H&H Rebuilders located on N. Logan St. just off Highway 22 Thursday evening.

Hiatt said he is awaiting the replacement of a phone cable that came crashing down the night of the fire.

"The wire was so large,” said Hiatt. “It was a 3,000 pair wire that burnt in two which means there’s 6,000 wires in that one cable that will service a lot of people."

Century Link phone company said they began working on the problem about an hour after the fire sparked.

"The main phone cables came down with the fiber-optic cables and we've got some services temporarily and we are working on the rest of them the parts we need to fix them are in route," said Century Link worker, Ray Webb.

As Century Link continues to assess the fires damage, Charleston residents without cell phones have had to rely on other means to communicate.

"Relying strictly on radios that's a frightening deal,” said Hunt.  “There are a lot of older people that don't have any support system and without that telephone they're stranded.”

The phone company said they plan to have all Charleston residents back with phone service by Saturday.

The cause of the fire is unknown, according to the authorities.Charlie Hartsell, the owner of the business, said he opened in September of 1975. The building has no insurance.

“This is a big loss for the Charleston community,” said Charleston Fire Chief Shawn Lovett.

Lovett said his team responded to a 911 call around 5:30 P.M. Lovett said a storage building was destroyed but they were able to save the rest of the historic downtown buildings on Maine Street.

As crews continued to work throughout the evening residents in town say it will be difficult for the owner to rebuild without insurance.

“We’ve used them all of our life parents have and everybody else. We hope they rebuild,” said Charleston resident Jimmy Martin.

“He doesn’t have insurance and he’s skeptical on whether he’s going to rebuild,” said Lovett.

A business owner right down the road said she feels for the owner, but the fire has impacted her as well.

“It’s sad because it’s right in the middle of town,” said Leeann Strickland.

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