The cause of the fire that destroyed a landmark waterfront business and caused thick smoke to fill the blue skies over Wrightsville Beach Friday afternoon is still unknown, according to a release from Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief Glen Rogers.
Firefighters from the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department, Wilmington Fire Department and New Hanover County Fire Rescue all responded to the blaze around 12:30 p.m. at Kings Beach Store, located at 21 E. Salisbury St. next to Johnnie Mercer’s fishing pier.
According to officials, the cause will remain undetermined but has been deemed non-suspicious.
“The joint investigation into the fire at Kings Beach Store has been concluded as of May 3, 2016,” the release stated. “The damage to the structural integrity of the building made a detailed investigation impossible due to safety concerns for fire investigators.”
The roof of the structure collapsed mid-afternoon Friday as firefighters tackled the blaze from the ground as well as above with the help of ladder trucks. Soon after, several of the walls were taken down by emergency responders.
Fire investigators from New Hanover County and the State Bureau of Investigation were on scene Friday afternoon, along with a canine used by the SBI to find fuel sources. The remainder of the building was razed Friday night.
The fire was contained to the one building, which was situated between the pier and a vacant lot. The dollar loss for the business, which sold souvenirs and beach wear, is estimated to be between $500,000 and $700,000.
According to Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Tim Owens, there were patrons inside the store at the time the fire broke out, but everyone was able to escape. There were no injuries to civilians or fire personnel.