Whatever caused the fire that destroyed a 20-year-old office complex Friday on Ford Avenue is still unknown, according to a Richmond Hill Fire Department report released Wednesday.
The building’s owner, District 5 County Commissioner Dr. Gene Wallace, DMD, is just glad no one was hurt.
Wallace, who is retired, was the first dentist to set up shop in Richmond Hill. He said he was impressed by the professionalism of the RHFD – “they have been very good,” he said – and by the community’s response to the fire.
“Even though I’ve lived in Richmond Hill a long time and know this is a good place, the way people have reached out to me has really warmed my heart,” he said. “The way people have reached out to me, and I mean people with genuine offers of help, like ‘You need us to come down there, me and my boys can come down there with wheelbarrows and shovels to clean that mess up,’ it’s stuff like that, that’s the good stuff, that’s what living in a small town is all about and I appreciate it.”
He said it’s too early to know whether he’ll rebuild, and he is grateful to the support from his tenants. Wallace said he expects to know more about the fire’s cause in early October.
Background The fire was called in shortly before 5:03 a.m. Friday by someone driving past who saw flames, Richmond Hill Fire Department Operations Chief Michelle Meacham said, and firefighters from RHFD were there within a minute.
“By the time the initial engine crew got on scene the fire was through the roof,” Meacham said. Firefighters from RHFD, Bryan County Emergency Services and Chatham County Fire responded to the blaze.
The was largely under control by about 9 a.m., she said, though firefighters remained at the complex to mop up.
The complex at 9390 Ford Avenue not far from the United States Post Office and across the street from the Fish Hatchery houses a chiropractor’s office, a day spa, a tax and business services office, an insurance agent’s office, a counseling service and other businesses.