South Carolina

Award-winning SC BBQ restaurant damaged by blaze Sunday morning, fire department says

The Charleston Fire Department responded to a 911 call at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, an award-winning restaurant.
The Charleston Fire Department responded to a 911 call at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, an award-winning restaurant. Charleston Fire Department

One of South Carolina’s more famous restaurants tells customers to “follow the smoke” to find its award-winning food.

Smoke and flames really were visible Sunday when a fire broke out at the downtown Charleston location of Rodney Scott’s BBQ, according to the Charleston Fire Department.

The late-morning blaze damaged the restaurant’s smokehouse and the hogs that were being prepared, the fire department reported. It said the fire was reported shortly after 11 a.m., and four fire departments, along with the Charleston County EMS and Charleston Police Department, responded.

According to the fire department, restaurant employees were preparing two hogs when they “noted excessive smoke and then fire,” and called 911 after failing to control the flames with a fire extinguisher.

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The Charleston Fire Department responded to a 911 call at Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, an award-winning restaurant. Charleston Fire Department

After responding to the King Street location, with “flames venting from the roof,” the fire department said it had the blaze “under control in less than 10 minutes.”

The fire department reported the blaze occurred in the smokehouse, which is a separate building from the main restaurant and dining hall.

While there was damage to the smokehouse roof, equipment and electrical wiring, no injuries were reported by the fire department.

There were at least five customers eating at Rodney Scott’s BBQ when the fire broke out, and were asked to leave, postandcourier.com reported. The newspaper said all of the meat from the hogs, each weighing about 175 pounds, was destroyed.

The Fire Marshal Division will determine the cause of the fire and its origin. The restaurant owner had its own electrician “begin inspecting, removing and replacing damaged wiring in the smokehouse,” according to the fire department.

Scott is a James Beard Award-winning chef, according to The State. Named Best Chef in the Southeast, Scott cooked his first hog at age 11.

Known for his whole hog barbecue, Scott is the first African-American to win the Southeast award, and only the second barbecue pitmaster to be recognized by the James Beard Foundation, The State reported.

In addition to the Charleston location, Scott’s family has a restaurant in Hemingway that has been recognized by national publications, including The New York Times.

Word of Sunday’s fire spread quickly.

One person tweeted about it, saying “If you hear crying coming from the East coast that’s just folks in South Carolina finding out Rodney Scott BBQ restaurant in Charleston was damaged by fire this afternoon. Thank goodness no one was hurt. That meat though.”

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.

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