SPARC offices damaged in blaze

The headquarters of Booz Allen Hamilton’s SPARC division in Charleston caught fire Monday afternoon, causing extensive damage and displacing hundreds of workers here, the company says.

A fire at Booz Allen Hamilton’s SPARC division in Charleston caused “extensive damage” Monday, forcing hundreds to work remotely while the technology company looks for alternatives.

No one was in the building when the fire started, said Elizabeth Buske, head of operations of Booz Allen Hamilton’s SPARC Hub. But smoke and heat caused “extensive damage” to the building at 2387 Clements Ferry Road, said Marc Murphy, the Booz Allen vice president who runs the division.

Work went on after the holiday weekend, with employees working from home or at offices the software development group leases across the road. Buske said the company is looking at renting temporary space to bring workers back into one space.

Booz Allen Hamilton has 350 employees in the Charleston region, of which 315 were affected, spokesman James Fisher said.

The two-alarm fire is still under investigation, the Charleston Fire Department said in a Facebook post, and four firefighters were sent to the hospital for dehydration as a precaution before they were cleared to return. Four fire departments sent crews to the building.

The damage was primarily limited to cubicles, the department said, and the office’s plastic furniture filled the 36,000-square-foot building with smoke that made it hard for crews to find the fire. The blaze was first reported by the building’s fire alarm system around 2:40 p.m., and crews stayed on the scene for several hours.

The fire comes in the midst of construction of a new headquarters adjacent to SPARC’s current building, a project that’s expected to be finished later this year. The fire isn’t expected to affect construction, and Murphy said workers could move into the new building as early as November, ahead of schedule.

Virginia-based Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting and government contracting giant, bought the business last fall for $53 million in one of the Charleston tech sector’s biggest acquisitions in recent years.

Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703 or on Twitter @thadmoore.