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Fire destroys popular marina on Lake Wateree

Dutchman Creek Marina in Winnsboro suffered "extensive damage" in early morning blaze

WINNSBORO, S.C. — Fire has destroyed a popular marina and restaurant on Lake Wateree.

"I heard the burning and the crashing and it was something else, it was scary," Tim Montgomery, neighbor said.

According to reports by the Fairfield County Fire Service, county fire units were dispatched around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 28, to Dutchman Creek Marina & Restaurant, at 5546 River Rd. in Winnsboro.

"At about 3:30 in the morning I heard the first siren and I think that was a police car coming down to check out if there was a robbery. Then soon after it was a continuous stream of fire trucks just one after another coming down. I figured something was going on but like I said it was early, I didn't know what it was until I saw it on Facebook this morning where they said Dutchman was on fire," Andrew Howie, Wateree Estates resident said.

Responding units found heavy fire throughout the structure. Six trucks, plus support vehicles from Dutchman's Creek, Southeastern and Ridgeway stations -- including the Town of Winnsboro's ladder truck -- fought the blaze, getting it under control around 7 a.m. Fairfield County Fire Chief Jason Pope says a total of 20 firefighters were on the scene and crews left after the fire was put out around 9 a.m.

The timing of this fire couldn't have been worse.

"Right after Christmas, before New Years. It's a horrible time. I really do feel for them and their families," Howie said.

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No injuries have been reported due to the fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown due to the extensive damage to the building and not having any evidence. Fairfield County Fire Service said they have no reason to believe this fire was intentionally set. SLED will not be called in to investigate. There is, however a chance for the owner's insurance company to investigate the cause of the fire.

Dutchman Creek Marina & Restaurant's website said it has been "a Lake Wateree icon since 1964." The restaurant has undergone some updates with new owner Nora Martin, including outdoor dining, live music and a sports bar vibe. Open seven days a week, the marina and restaurant not only served food but provided a daily lake report for boaters and fishermen.

Residents say they're going to miss this beloved spot dearly.

" A lot of people use this boat ramp and they park, all the fisherman park here and motorcycles come here and eat," Montgomery said.

"I hope they'll get money to rebuild, but otherwise in terms of putting in on the ramp or getting something to eat or finding gasoline, it's going to be a bit more of a drive. It's going to be pretty rough for people that are used to using this place," Howie said.

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