Twisted and charred steel is all that is left of the 14,000-square-foot building off Ridgeville Road in Dorchester County. On Monday the cleanup effort was fully underway at the Key West Boat facility, after a possible lightning strike set it ablaze on Saturday night.
The site has different buildings that are used in the boat manufacturing process. The one that caught fire was a fiberglass mold repair and tooling shop. It was the original building when the business opened in 1987.
“Lots of memories and lots of beginnings happened right there in that plant,” said Hutch Holseberg, owner of Key West Boats. Holseberg believes because of the fire’s intensity it could have been much worse and he gives a lot of credit to responding crews.
“Dorchester County and Summerville did an excellent job coming out here and containing it to just one facility, and they even moved some products and boats that were near the building out and saved most of them,” he said. “They were very responsive and stayed here until it was completely out.”
In the meantime, the 150 Key West employees in Ridgeville won’t be out of a job; the building was just a portion of the boat builder’s business.
“Everybody is still at work they just got transferred into other buildings and disbursed to other plants,” Holseberg said.
It’s not only Ridgeville; Holseberg has other boat manufacturing facilities across the area and state including Summerville, Lexington and Walterboro. The Ridgeville site only makes the Key West brand of boat.
The Ridgeville facility was closed when the fire started. There were no reported injuries.