A quiet Sunday afternoon was shattered about 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon after a fire destroyed the kitchen of one of Greenwood’s oldest restaurants.
Emergency crews responded to The Ranch and Pizza Palace, located in the K-Mart shopping plaza, after receiving a report of the building being on fire. Firefighter’s from three stations - Northwest Volunteer Fire Department, Coronaca Volunteer Fire Department and Hodges-Cokesbury Fire Department - responded to the scene and quickly gained control of the fire.
“We had it under control in about 15 minutes,” said Greenwood County fire coordinator Steve Holmes. “The guys did a really good job of getting in there and getting it contained quickly.”
Holmes said the blaze caused heavy fire and heat damage to the kitchen of the restaurant and heavy smoke damage to the dining area. There were no injuries reported as the restaurant closed at 3 p.m. There was also slight damage to Lee Nails, which is next door to the restaurant. K-Mart was evacuated as a precaution and appeared to still be open for business at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
The fire appears to have started near the deep fryers, Holmes said, though he noted that all the fryers were definitely turned off when the fire started.
Many of the employees of the iconic Greenwood restaurant gathered outside as fire crews continued to work in the kitchen area of the restaurant. Long-time cook Clyde Cunningham said it was difficult to see the place he had worked for 15 years up in flames again.
“I’ve been through two fires here,” Cunningham said, referring to a fire more than a decade ago that destroyed The Ranch House at its previous location. “I don’t know if I can handle three. I’ve worked here for so long, it will be weird to work somewhere else.”
Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office and Greenwood County EMS also responded to the scene. The fire remains under investigation.