Springfield smash-and-grab attempt starts fire, destroys businesses

A fire destroyed two Springfield businesses on South Limestone Street early Thursday morning, sparked by a van that drove into the building in an apparent break-in.

No one was injured in the blaze and the driver ran from the scene.

Springfield police are looking into who was behind the wheel of the van when it smashed into the front of Metro PCS and Fresh Lines Barber Shop in the 1800 block of South Limestone Street about 3 a.m. Thursday, Sgt. Brian Peabody said.

“We are considering it a break-in,” Peabody said.

Detectives are also checking if a van reported stolen a few hours earlier on Rice Street, one mile from the fire, is the same van that was in the crash.

As Springfield Fire/Rescue Division firefighters pulled the red van out of the wreckage Thursday morning, Steven McCoy watched, looking at the charred remains of the cell phone shop where he worked.

“The store was like my baby,” McCoy said, who worked there seven days a week.

A store manager got a call about the alarm going off, he said.

“I live right down the street on Fountain (Avenue) and I came up Fountain and got to John Street and you can just see the flames and the smoke — it was just engulfed,” McCoy said.

Randy Smoot, owner of Fresh Lines Barber Shop that was also destroyed, said the fire won’t be the end of his business.

“(The shop is) currently gone but we are definitely going to rebuild. The barber shop’s too important to the community, we’ve done a lot of really good things,” Smoot said. “We will absolutely be back.”

Several other business in the strip mall had to close Thursday when power was turned off as crews demolished the burned structure.

The damage, including property that was inside, probably exceeds $100,000, said Brian Miller, assistant chief and fire marshal with the Springfield Fire/Rescue Division.

Police at the scene collected surveillance video from local businesses to use in their investigation.

Video from neighboring Family Dollar, 1857 S. Limestone St., captured a van crashing into the front of the building and then a person can be scene running across the parking lot, according to a police report.

Surveillance videos on businesses and homes are important tools in investigations, Miller said.

“It’s one of the very first things I look for when I go on any arson-type investigation, is to see if there’s some sort of surveillance cameras in the neighborhood because they’re tremendously beneficial,” he said.