Make-shift housing for students may remain vacant

Source: WMBF News Photographer Michael Walter
Source: WMBF News Photographer Michael Walter

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A building that was housing international students and shut down by the Myrtle Beach Fire Marshal due to safety concerns may never reopen.

Officials got word that the building at 804.5 Oak Street was being used as a dormitory-style residence, with six beds, and a make-shift bathroom and kitchen, said Assistant Fire Chief Bruce Arnel. The building was zoned for commercial use only, and the owner had converted the building without the city's knowledge or the required permits.

The space, which was previously an old sign shop, did not have a fire alarm, sprinkler systems, smoke detectors or an emergency escape, Assistant Chief Arnel said. The Building Department posted it as unsafe for residential occupancy, and was shut down.

Three people from Russia were living there; Arnel said he believes they are international students.

Just a few days earlier, the Fire Marshal and police shut down part of the Calypso Motel, where several international students from Ireland were staying. The students told WMBF News the smoke alarms were not functional, and the rooms were overcrowded.

One of those students, Lisa Fitzgerald, said it has been a tough week for international students involved with these buildings.

"Hectic we got kicked out on Monday we came here and we got this new hotel room for a week," Said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said she hopes students do not have any more problems with where they are staying because other hotels are filling up with students who moved from the Calypso Motel.

"Hopefully not for the student's sake they need somewhere to stay instead of running to hotels where there's really no place to stay anymore," added Fitzgerald.

Mathew Purcell also left the Calypso Motel earlier this week. He said he and his friends are now having more trouble at a new hotel.

"We feel a little bit hard done by like stuff getting robbed and maybe some of these guys are trying to take advantage of us," Purcell said.

Bruce Arnel says this building will remain vacant until the owner obtains the proper permits, but believed the owner did not want to do that.

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