Owners remain positive despite devastating fire at family business in Swainsboro

CSRA News

Crews continue to keep an eye on a massive fire in Swainsboro as well as the air quality in the surrounding area. 

The fire started Tuesday and you could see a black cloud of smoke coming from the Dealer Supply Company on E. Main St. for miles. We talked to the owners outside the building that is still smoking even days later. They remain positive, despite the loss. 

“We lost so many family heirlooms,” says Dealer Supply Company owner Rodney Wilson. “Some of this stuff is priceless and it’s not replaceable. That is really the toughest part of this.” 

The Wilson family has owned the lawn and garden distribution business for decades. 

“My dad started this business in 1964,” Wilson points out. “There have been some unbelievable people stepping forward and saying, ‘can we do anything for you, Rod?’ ‘Can we help you in anyway?’ We’re so appreciative of it.”

Summer is their busiest time of year and despite the estimated millions in losses, business is still going. 

“We’re moving to the other building,” Wilson explains. “It’s going to be tough to get back up to total speed, but we’re already making progress.”

The Wilson’s are frustrated with the way the fire was handled by crews. 

“I don’t know that anything will ever happen on that and these fireman will tell you, everyone cries after a fire coulda, shoulda, wouldas, but there was a lot of incompetence here, no question,” Wilson says.  

Swainsboro Fire Chief Mike Strobridge says he understands. 

“I’d be frustrated too if i just lost everything and frustration is part of what we see,” says Chief Strobridge. “Even a simple house fire, we go there and their whole house is on fire and everything that they’ve worked for is going up in smoke. We understand the frustrations.”

Chief Strobridge says the size of the building and the equipment inside provided challenges for his team and those who came to help from neighboring counties. 

“We knew we were going to be running into oils a lot of metal,” Chief describes, “so we knew we were going to have a pretty hot, pretty hot fire. “

As they rebuild, the Wilson’s stay positive and grateful for those who have offered to help. 

“We have been really blessed. The Lord’s taken care of us and now he’s going to pick me back up here,” Wilson says. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

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