Early morning fire destroys old Hornes Country Buffet

Fire crews are investigating an early morning fire in Florence that destroyed the building that housed the old Hornes Country Buffet and Ashtons Upscale Social Club on South Irby Street.

The nightclub was housed in the same building as the restaurant.

The fire is now contained and under control, but crews will be on scene for several hours.

A portion of South Irby Street was closed for 10 hours as crews battled the fire, but is now reopened.

A passerby saw smoke coming from the back of the building just after 2 a.m. Tuesday and called 911, according to Florence Fire Marshal Ken Carr.

When crews got to the scene much of the building was covered in flames.


says firefighters immediately went inside, but had to come back out because there was so much fire and they feared the roof would collapse.

At that point


they fought the fire from the outside.

A motel that adjoins the restaurant wasn't damaged in the fire, but some people staying there were moved to other rooms as crews battled the fire.

Florence Fire Chief Randy Osterman says he can't say at this point determine where the fire started or what caused it.

Several people passing through stopped by to look at firefighters fight the fire. "Oh, I was shocked. I saw it on the news this morning, but I didn't know it was this severe," said Jean Cobb.

Hornes Country Buffet just closed down in July after more than 52 years in business. Many hoped it would reopen.

"It's just sad because I was hoping someone would reopen it. It's been here since I been in Florence," said Cobb.