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 Glynn County Fire Department - Protectors of Life and Property Since 1952




Brunswick, GA

September 20, 1983


Glynn County Fire Department Snorkel 21 set up on the south-west corner of the building


The Brunswick Mall was unoccupied early Tuesday morning, September 20, 1983, when the fire was discovered.  A security person who also had maintenance responsibilities did not have a schedule of rounds and was not in the shopping center when the fire occurred.  Reportedly there was no watchman or security person in the shopping center after the shops, theatre and mall were secured for the night.

A burglar alarm at 2:31 a.m. from Friedman’s Jewelers gave the first notification of the fire.  The Brunswick Police Chief was near the shopping center when the alarm was received and he responded to the Brunswick Mall to investigate.  He arrived at the shopping complex approximately three minutes after the alarm and observed fire between the fountain area and the north entrance.  The fire appeared to the chief to be moving to the west.  He drove to the west entrance and could see fire through the roof at the far end of the mall.  The chief radioed for the fire department and, recognizing that the fire was already of major proportions, he immediately requested that county fire apparatus respond.

The north entrance of the mall with theater marquee.  Fire can be seen through the glass door frames.

Fire Chief Nichols arrived on the scene at approximately 2:35 a.m., about one minute before the first engine.  He drove to the west side of the complex and observed fire through the roof.  He also saw a corridor and several shops on both sides of the corridor involved in fire.  He then drove to the north side and could see spot fires in several stores.

The first Brunswick engine arrived at 2:36 a.m.  A long lay of 2 1/2 inch line was necessary from Coral Drive, south of the shopping center, to the north side mall entrance.  Two handlines were advanced into the mall.  Firefighters were able to reach the center of the main east-west mall.  They were not able to hold that position, however, and were forced to retreat.  The second engine arriving advanced lines through stores between the south entrance and the Belk Hudson store.  Two hose lines from engine 5 were taken in the south mall entrance.

Off duty firefighters were called in to man reserve apparatus to provide additional water.  The advance of fire was significantly checked at about the three quarter point of the shopping center.  The large Belk Hudson store was included in the part of the shopping center that was saved.  The fire was declared under control at approximately 1:00 a.m. the following morning.

Aerial view of the Brunswick Mall after the fire.


There was no loss of life resulting from the fire.  Several firefighters received minor injuries during fire suppression operations.

The entire area of mall, shops, and stores west of the east-west mall, the block of stores between the north-south cross mall and the Belk Hudson store ranged from total destruction to heavy smoke and heat damage.  Even the stores closest to Belk Hudson received fire damage to contents from exposure to the main mall fire.  South of the main mall, damage was somewhat less severe near the outside (south) wall and the Belk Hudson store (east).  Although the Belk Hudson store did not receive direct fire damage, considerable damage to contents was caused by smoke, water and heat.

Total damage to the shopping center was estimated at $7 – 8 million to the building and $4 million to contents.


   The above text is an excerpt from, NFPA Fire Investigation Report - Shopping Center Fire


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