Friends and customers of Robert Slade’s marine repair services business started calling him Thursday, Sept. 17, when they saw the South Hall fire.
“The first thing I could think about was my sweetheart in the building,” Slade said of his pit bull Bobo.
Slade of Slade Marine said he was in the process of moving and wanted to keep his dog in the climate-controlled office. A fire Sept. 17 destroyed Slade’s business and others, and Hall County Fire Services Division Chief Zach Brackett said the dog was found dead at the scene.
Firefighters first responded around 7:10 a.m. to Bulldog Carts at the intersection of Holiday Road and Lanier Islands Parkway in Buford, where heavy fire was coming from the metal building.
Gwinnett County firefighters provided help fighting the fire, Hall County Fire Services Division Chief Zach Brackett wrote in an email.
No people were inside the building at the time, Brackett said.
The Hall County Fire Marshal’s Office has determined the fire to be accidental.
Brackett said Thursday that the fire originated in the “area of a golf cart located within the building.”
Bulldog Carts did not respond to a request for comment from The Times.
“We had all of our inventory and all of our tools completely gone. We lost everything along with a family member,” Slade said in reference to his dog.
Slade’s friend and owner of Classic 84 Marine, Jordan Cross, also lost his business to the fire. Cross, who primarily does custom audio systems, said he had just made a major purchase of roughly $15,000-$20,000 in speakers, subwoofers and other equipment.
“The fire started so close to our office, my full steel desk melted. Just completely melted,” Cross said.
Cross' childhood car, a 1984 Toyota Celica hatchback he had since he was a teenager, was also burned in the fire.
“That’s one of those things that I can’t replace that,” Cross said.
Slade said they used a good bit of money Thursday, Sept. 24, to buy tool boxes and tools. Both men are starting from scratch, Cross said.
“It’s been a couple days,” Cross said. “We’re just now getting to the point where we have a couple of tools. We have some supplies.”
Friends and customers started GoFundMe pages for both businesses. They have collectively raised nearly $8,000 as of Thursday. Even their competitors on the lake have come up to see how they can help as Slade and Cross work to rebuild their businesses.
“With so much bad going on, it shows that there’s still some good in the world,” Cross said. “And that makes me happy. It gives me some hope.”