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Downtown Statesboro fire investigation continues

South and Vine, Déjà Vu closed indefinitely

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Posted: September 2, 2014 10:26 p.m.
Updated: September 2, 2014 10:24 p.m.
Downtown Statesboro fire investigation continues

This is a view of the front entrance of South and Vine Public House, a restaurant at 19 S. Main St. that was destroyed by fire the night of Aug. 26.

Statesboro fire officials still don't know the cause of a blaze Aug. 26 that destroyed a restaurant and damaged nearby businesses in downtown Statesboro.

The state fire marshal's office is assisting in the investigation to help determine what started the fire that gutted South and Vine Public House, a restaurant at South Main and Vine streets, said Statesboro Fire Chief Tim Grams.

The state fire marshal's office was called in after local fire investigators were unable to pin down the fire's cause. Also, because the fire involved commercial buildings in the historic part of downtown Statesboro, Grams said he felt it important to determine the cause.

"There is nothing to substantiate foul play at this time," he said.

Firefighters were called out around 11:25 p.m. Aug. 26 and found the building "heavily involved," he said. Firefighters were able to go in and contain the flames, which appeared to have started around the rear of the business.

Déjà Vu consignment shop, next to the restaurant, sustained heavy smoke and heat damage, he said. The Flowergirl florist shop also suffered mild smoke damage. That business has remained open, with adjustments, but Déjà Vu and South and Vine are closed until further notice.

The blaze "crisped papers, boiled my floors, and all the smoke came into my business (through attic space)," said Déjà Vu owner Casey Arnett.

Arnett had more than a thousand co-signers who had items for sale on consignment, and because she has been unable to access her computer because of the ongoing investigation, she has been unable to reach her customers to explain what happened and discuss their business arrangements.

Seni Alabi-Isama, who owns South and Vine, said Tuesday that he could not even think about his next step.

"This thing is, this is not a very easy time," he said. "I'm just trying to process this right now."

He said he was exhausted after a week of meeting with fire investigators and trying to analyze the problems the fire caused.

He had been discussing a possible move to a larger location with more room, he said, but plans had not been finalized when the fire occurred. South and Vine had been in business in that location for two years, he said.

Arnett has moved temporarily across South Main Street to her sister's shop, The Feathered Nest, which she said is "like Pinterest in a store."

While she is unable to remove anything from the fire-damaged building, Arnett said she assures her clients the loss of their items will be resolved. Nothing is salvageable, she said.

Jackie Hane, owner of The Flowergirl, said she has had to meet brides elsewhere and work outside when arranging flowers because of the lingering smoke odor, but her shop remains open.

"I was the luckiest one out of the three," she said Tuesday.

She doesn't plan to leave and hopes the odor of smoke will dissipate soon.

"I love it here at my location in downtown Statesboro," she said. "I want to stay here in my little shop."

Her business sustained very little damage besides smoke, and she lost no inventory, she said.

Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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