COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The owners of an auto repair and towing shop in Columbia are working to rebuild after fire destroyed their business last week.
Despite the extensive damage and the loss of their dog, the owners are determined to reopen for the community. The Sandy Run Towing building on North Main Street in Columbia went up in flames late Friday night.
Three cars inside the shop were destroyed, two outside were damaged. Tens of thousands of dollars in tools and equipment were burned.
"When I got here the ladder truck was here," said co-owner Charles Cochran. "Another ladder truck was sitting over here and I said, well, it ain't looking good."
"I didn't think it'd be anything like what it is," co-owner Mike Wallace said still in disbelief.
Every night, Wallace and Cochran say they have the same routine.
"[We] put the dog inside the front office and off we went," said Cochran. "After three or four years we do the same routine and all of a sudden a fire starts. That's mind boggling."
Investigators still do not know what sparked the blaze. Their dog, their loyal companion, Loli, a nearly 10-year-old Labrador did not make it.
"Everybody [in the neighborhood] knew the dog," Cochran and Wallace echoed.
"The dog actually got out when the fire department broke the front door open," said Wallace. "But she crawled under the car right next to the door and died."
"She was a great dog," said Cochran.
The building needs to be torn down but the owners already have a prospective location around the corner and are hoping to be up and running soon.
"God's with us," said Cochran. "He said rebuild and that's what we're doing. We're going to rebuild because we look at it as we're kind of like the neighborhood shop."
"They care about me as much as I care about them," said Wallace. "[That's] right," Cochran responded. "They spend money with us to keep us going and we fix their cars to keep them going," Wallace said.
In the meantime, the neighborhood is coming to their aid.
"The AutoZone is buying us lunch. Zesto's brought us lunch on Saturday," said Wallace. "We work on all their cars, their employees' cars. They're pretty much concerned about us and want to know immediately where we're going."
While the owners fight the feeling of defeat, they focus on rebuilding day-by-day.
"My equipment guy just came by, he's going to get us all the equipment we need so it's looking good. It's looking better today," said Cochran.
When asked if he felt like quitting? Both Cochran and Wallace shake their heads, "Nope. Not today. Nope. Not today."