Lexington residents remember 'war zone' from 1994 tornado - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Lexington residents remember 'war zone' from 1994 tornado


Reading a paper that's twenty years old -- Bobby Harmon remembers the day well.

"Just a normal day at the fire department," Harmon said.

Harmon was a captain with Lexington County Fire at the time and that normal day, quickly shifted.

"It was a life changing event for many people that day," Harmon said.

Where a BI-LO now stands, a command post was set up two decades ago.

"Folks were actually pointing to the Christian bookstore where the folks were trapped, and we addressed that accordingly," Harmon said. "That was our number one priority."

The F-3 tornado struck just after lunch on Aug. 16, 1994.

Dr. Philip Smith was at his dental office on East Main Street when the sky turned dark.

"It just kept getting darker and darker out there," Smith said.

Smith had a full house of patients and staff.

They all huddled together away from windows and doors.

"Within just a matter of four or five minutes it was like, bam, bam!" Smith said. "Front door popped open, the rear door popped open."

No one was hurt but the damage was severe.

"It was impressive, I mean it really was," Smith said. "I mean, there was so much, it looked like a war zone. I mean, people say that, but it really did."

For Harmon, his job as a firefighter, meant he was on the front lines helping his community.

"A lot of folks labeled us as heroes," Harmon said. "I feel we were just doing our job that day."

It's a day these men won't soon forget.

"You know, it's the kind of stories you tell your family about," Smith said.

A day they don't want to relive just remember through pictures and articles.

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