South Augusta Flea Market main building destroyed in fire

By: Stephanie Baker Email
By: Stephanie Baker Email

May 7, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---The main building of the South Augusta Flea Market in the 1500 block of Doug Barnard Parkway near the airport went up in flames this morning.

No one was injured, and the other eight buildings in the complex are intact, but the fire completely destroyed the main building. It also spread to nearby woods.

The fire started at around 10:15 this morning, and the giant plumes of smoke rolling over Augusta attracted everyone's attention.

Firefighters battled high winds of up to 30 miles per hour while fighting the blaze at the 700 foot concrete and wood building. Water tankers had to be brought in because there was only one fire hydrant in the area, and it was 2000 feet away.

According to officials, a building of that size built recently would have required a new, closer fire hydrant, but since the building was already standing, it was "grandfathered in" to newer fire codes.

In all, it took three engine companies an hour to put out the fire.

The owner of the building, Dusty Rhodes, is set to appear in court this Thursday (May 10) to answer a number of fire code violations, including the number of exits and the lack of fire alarms.

Click here to read what Mr. Rhodes told News 12 about the violations.

Davis Cheek, a vendor with the flea market, says the building that was destroyed was the largest of the market's nine buildings, but the market will continue to operate, and vendors in other buildings will be open and ready for business this weekend.

The nearby Barnyard Flea Market was not harmed in the fire.

Flights into and out of Augusta Regional Airport were unaffected as the smoke was mainly blowing away from the airport.

Nixon Road and Doug Barnard Parkway between Gordon Highway and Bobby Jones were closed to traffic.

The Augusta Red Cross provided assistance to over 40 firefighters and others affected by the fire.

A cause is unknown, and officials say they're unable to investigate because the area is too hot. We're told we probably won't know what happened until this evening, or, more likely, tomorrow.

Earlier today, the National Weather Service put out a Special Weather Statement indicating critical fire danger conditions were possible.

This isn't the first time a fire has broken out at that same flea market. In November of 2000, firefighters were called out to battle a two-alarm fire late at night. Officials say the fire was smoldering for a long time before the department was called. Doug Barnard Parkway closed down for hours as a result of that fire.

Fire safety tips are available at

News 12 Images:

Photos by News 12 viewer Vinson N. Williford of Augusta:

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  • by brandon Location: hephzibah on Nov 6, 2009 at 08:06 PM
    I am Brandon Rhodes, i am the owners grandson. my grandfather has been doin everything he can but it obviously could not be helped. but i promise you it was not a result of his being neglegent to his business, he cares very much about his vendors and most importantly, their safety. and i'll also throw in there that i happen to know the cause of the fire, the cause of it was arson, somebody set the fire on purpose. if anyone has any questions please e-mail me at- thanks:)
  • by Marc Location: Nashville TN on May 15, 2007 at 10:35 AM
    My mother is the operator of *Granny's*, a vendor of fine home furnishings at the flea market, and also sells socks at discount prices. Mr. Rhodes needs to get the market back up and running ASAP. My Mom is elderly, and she really enjoys the business of selling her goods and the relationships she has with the customers and the other vendors.
  • by Phyllis Location: North Augusta on May 10, 2007 at 08:45 PM
    Audrey, I am so sorry that you guys lost everything you had in this fire. i do feel for you all. I just wanted to know why come Mr. Rhodes could not put in water sprinklers. I have recently been to the South Augusta Flea Market and Yes i did see running water and yes I saw restaurants using water. I have no problems with the vendors. Like I said my heart really goes out to the ones that made their living from this. I totally blame Mr. Rhodes for not doing what he was told to do. In any business you have to do things that you don't want to do but don't make up excuses for not being able to follow the rules and regulations. If you own something and the fire marshals tell you that you are not up to code then it is the business owner to make sure these things are done first on the list. Yes I do give praise to Mr. Rhodes for only having two violations from 54. But those two things could have been done. If you have running water to the rest rooms and the restaurants then you can run sprinklers.
  • by Mariah Location: Augusta on May 9, 2007 at 11:16 AM
    this is missed up i love that flea market!
  • by Audrey Location: North Augusta on May 8, 2007 at 03:40 PM
    Phyllis, If you dont know what you are talking about maybe you should shut up! A lot of long time vendors including myself made a good living from this market, without insurance why would anyone do something this evil? Maybe we need to look somewhere else for the answer.
  • by Phyllis Location: North Augusta on May 8, 2007 at 01:00 PM
    How could this man say he could not put in water sprinklers cause he did not have any water running to his building for that but yet he had water for the restrooms and for the restaurants to wash their dishes? This dose not make any since. What is he hiding and what did he have to do with this fire?
  • by James Location: Bennett on May 8, 2007 at 07:40 AM
    I have a rant. Im a local volunteere firefighter. I just wanted to know why in the world didn't the city put a couple more fire hydrant's in the area, when they know about the posible fire hazard to the community. Also wasn't it said on the news that one of the companies that responded to the fire didn't have any water in their engine. why would you go to a fire and not have any water i mean that just crazy.
  • by Lindsay Location: Wrens on May 7, 2007 at 08:38 PM
    We will miss the flea market I when there all the time. I wonder what happen there ever time I always when there it look like it was in good shape.
  • by Audrey Location: North Augusta on May 7, 2007 at 02:24 PM
    I was at the flea market for 17yrs,it was a good place to work and the people were great. It makes me very sad that so many of my friends have lost everything. There will never be another flea market like this one, I really loved it.
  • by Terry Location: homemaker on May 7, 2007 at 01:23 PM
    Those are some really good photos, although I would not want to get that close. I could see the smoke from where I live and was very worried. It was so jaw-dropping, I didn't even to think to call a radio station from my cellphone to report it, so I shouldn't be surprised I didn't hear anything on the station I was listening to.
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