Sylvester Hoover got an unexpected telephone call late Saturday night, and he couldn't fathom what he heard.
It was a neighbor, calling to say that Hoover's Grocery n a Greenwood fixture for more than 20 years n was drowning in flames.
“When I got down there, it hit me hard,” said Hoover, whose store would have turned 21 on Oct. 10. “I was nervous as hell, and I couldn't really comprehend what was going on.”
The roof was on fire when Hoover arrived at the store, located at 214 Young St. It was a few minutes before midnight, and flames were shooting out through the windows.
“I don't know what I'm going to do,” Hoover said this morning. “I'm probably going to rebuild it and start it back up. But to be honest, I haven't crossed that bridge yet.”
The Fire Department was called at 11:46 p.m., and 10 firefighters responded, said Chief Larry Griggs. When they arrived, the inside was already engulfed in flames.
The front door was pried off of the building so that firefighters could battle the blaze, which Hoover thinks could have originated in the electrical work. The department used about 1,500 gallons of water to extinguish the fire over 2½ hours.
“We initially had difficulty getting the electricity turned off,” said Griggs. “Usually, we can pull the meter. But, not being able to do that, we had to wait on the power company to arrive.”
Griggs reported no serious injuries. He said that after firefighters had entered the business, several began getting shocked. They were eventually pulled out and waited until the power had been turned off to re-enter.
“We had knocked it down by that point,” Griggs said of the fire. “But we didn't want to run the risk of having any serious injury.”
The structure was still standing Sunday morning, but the inside had been gutted.
Fire Inspector William Stanciel was called to the scene Saturday night, Griggs said. The investigation as to the official cause of the fire continued this morning.
Hoover said that he received calls all day Sunday from local churches and friends offering support.
“That's my life over there,” said Hoover. “That's my life's work.”