Two fires in abandoned hotels have owners on edge

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- With two fires in abandoned hotels along Ocean Boulevard in a week, hotel owners are asking for change.

Owners say it boils down to safety and reputation which are vital to keeping their doors open. And they say when abandoned hotels like the Sportsman catch fire, it puts them at risk.

Former Owner Sis Ramsey says, "I remember when my mom and dad built this hotel back in the 60s." Ramsey says the Sportsman held a lifetime of memories because her family owned the motel when she was a child. "My whole family's life was in this motel. We moved here when I was 5, and we had various hotels we leased, but this was the one we owned and it meant a lot to us."

Ramsey says it is hard hearing about the fire which investigators are now calling arson. Ramsey adds, "It hurts for anyone to destroy property intentionally because I feel like it was someone trespassing."

That fire is also hurting people who own hotels that are still in business. They say incidents like this one hurt their image and turn guests away from their business. That has them calling on Myrtle Beach City officials to make changes.

Owner of Waikiki Village, Nancy Hall says,"It would be nice if the city would get involved and hire a security company to go from the motel to motel lot at night of these abandoned properties and watch them."

But the city says it comes down to a matter of responsibility. Mark Kruea, spokesperson for the city of Myrtle Beach says, "The person who owns the property is responsible for protecting the property and making sure other people can't get in there and harm the property or be harmed so that is their responsibility not the public's."

So in the meantime, hotel owners say everyone is on alert. "With the location of that hotel and with neighbors watching, I don't think it would have gotten out of hand because of the fire department."

Another major concern owners have is that most of the abandoned hotels like the Sportsman are old enough that they were built without sprinkler systems to help with a fire. Stay with WMBF News for the latest developments in the investigation.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved.