Fire Destroys South Carolina College Dining Hall

July 12, 2008
More than 100 firefighters fought to extinguish the fire at Erskine College.


A fire broke out Thursday evening in the dining hall at Erskine College.

Witnesses said flames were shooting out of the rooms of the building.

More than 100 firefighters fought to extinguish the fire at Moffat Dining Hall. Two Upstate firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

There was considerable damage done by the fire. There's a hole in the roof of the dining hall where firefighters had to chop through it to get to the flames.

About 12 fire departments responded Thursday night and it took all of them to put the fire out.

Firefighters were met with a problem when they discovered the town of Due West didn't have enough water pressure to douse the flames.

However, one department came prepared with enough water tankers to quench the fire.

Officials asked on Friday for help to get enough water to keep up with the town's growth.

"The main problem is that they haven't enlarged the lines because of money," Erskine College President Randall Ruble said. "You hear that everywhere, don't you?"

The college, which has about 600 students, is looking for federal aid to meet the water needs.

The school's president, Randy Ruble, said he was shocked and surprised, saying he's worked there for 40 years and this is the first fire at the school, he's ever seen.

The fire also left some people needing jobs.

"I said, 'I'm out of a job,'" said dining hall worker Linda Ann Tilman. "I'm just thankful nobody was in there when it happened."

Ruble said students will eat at Due West Retirement Center.

Students in the Erskine College community rehashed memories at the dining hall.

"You talk to your friends, you eat there," senior Jaren Curry said. "Teens come in there, like, we have practice, we get done, we all come in as a team and eat. So a lot of bonding happens (in there.)"

An investigation determined the fire started in the dishwashing room. Police said something went wrong with the drying cycle in the dishwasher.

The school's president said insurance will cover the damage.

Meanwhile, school officials are still trying to figure out what to do with about 160 campers who were supposed to be on campus Monday.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!