Looking through the rubble: A fire took a historic Augusta building and a life

Monday, Feb. 3, 2020
News 12 at 6/NBC at 7

Fire crews working carefully on Dent's Funeral Home after the fire. (Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Dent's Funeral Home was destroyed by a fire, taking the historic building and one life with it. Augusta firefighters and search and rescue teams went through the rubble Monday.

Ralphael Johnson lives next door to the funeral home.

"It was a big, massive -- I mean everything was completely engulfed in flames," Johnson said. "The entire building. All you could see was just flames going straight up."

Johnson said he smelled something and looked out the window, finding the entire building ablaze.

Fire crews went through the debris, looking for anything or anyone left behind.

Local historian Joyce Law said the building held over 100 years of history. The funeral home was run as a family business for years until it closed in 2009 after facing bankruptcy and multiple state investigations. Recently, 150 missing veteran gravestones were discovered, including Joyce's great uncle who served as a medic during World War II.

"It makes you wonder -- what was there? Through this fire, there may be many more stories that are now unveiled because we can see more of the building," Law said.

Investigators aren't focused on plans for the area just yet as they are still trying to find the fire's cause.

"We will remember it most hopefully for all the service they provided to generations of families," Law said.

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