West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – The building that housed His House Ministries thrift store and some of its other key functions caught fire and burned at about 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning. It was located in the 700 block of Meeting Street in West Columbia. It was originally thought that some of the clients that were living and participating in the ministry’s programs were trapped in the building, but a West Columbia police officer had helped get everyone out of an adjacent building before the arrival of the first fire department units.
The first dispatch brought firefighters from West Columbia, Cayce, and the City of Columbia FD. West Columbia’s battalion chief struck a second alarm before arrival after hearing that there might be numerous people trapped and he knew the size of the building and the extent of its contents. There was a great deal of thrift items in the store and the sale of those things helped the ministry work with men that had found themselves homeless and struggling with alcoholism. The second alarm that the chief transmitted brought more fire units from Lexington County stations from as far away as the town of Lexington and the Irmo Fire District. There was also Lexington County EMS personnel on the scene assisting with the safety of the firefireifghters. West Columbia police officers also blocked off much of the area to prevent anyone from getting in the way of the firefighting efforts.
At some point, there were a number of aerial fire apparatus with their ladders raised and the firefighters were pouring water on from above. The few onlookers on the scene could only stare as the flames shot from the building into the morning's dark skies. Eventually, the fire consumed the structure. The exact cause of the fire and the dollar value of the loss will be determined at some point in the future but it appeared to be a total loss. Firefighters were still on the scene after daybreak and well ito the day Saturday wetting down hot-spots and digging through the burning remains.
His House Ministry has been a cornerstone of the community’s recovery options for men since 1974. That year, the Rev. Garland Ramsey said God gave him a dream that he could take things that were used and ready to be discarded and sell them. Then, he would use those funds to change the lives of homeless and alcoholic men. According to the ministry’s website, that’s when he founded the thrift store, Grace Men’s Program and Men’s Mission. Since then, they have grown into three stores in the Midlands area that support their efforts. They are proud of the fact that they have taken no federal, local government, or United Way funding. If you are interested in helping His House recover from this devastating loss, you can find out more about them on their website at hishousesc.org.