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      Lowcountry sign business to rebuild after fire

      Thomas Malphrus (WCIV)

      by Stacy Jacobsonsjacobson@abcnews4.com

      RED TOP, S.C. (WCIV) -- When Fran Roberts looked at the destruction to his 50-year-old family business, he waved it off in disbelief.

      "You are seeing something you've worked all your life for and you're watching it go in smoke," Roberts said.

      The fire started Thursday around 9 p.m., St. Andrews Fire officials said. It quickly spread and started shooting through the roof.

      "We were able to have enough manpower to contain fire to only about 30 percent of the building," Capt. Nathan Murtaugh said.

      Roberts estimated they lost $600,000 worth of equipment. They also lost designs left by his father when he started Roberts & Sons Signs, Inc. in 1957.

      "We lost six computers. Every computer had data for signs for the last 50-something years. We can't recover that. We're never going to get that back," Roberts said.

      Among the designs lost in the fire was one of the most recognizable symbols in the Lowcountry: the Coburg Dairy sign.

      But, Roberts and his family vowed the fire would not be the end of their decades-old company.

      "What do you do? Keep on truckin'. Don't look back," he said.

      The fire marshal said the company could be out of the Red Top building for at least six months. Officials were still investigating the cause.

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