MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Fire Department has determined the fire that ignited last Friday at the Holiday South Motel on Ocean Boulevard was arson.
A spokesperson for the Myrtle Beach Police Department said it's likely that fire was started by homeless people who were trying to stay warm.
The Holiday South is an abandoned motel.
"Abandoned, unused is not a problem by itself- if the property is secured, if it's boarded up. If it's not a danger to the community," City Spokesperson Mark Kruea said.
Kruea said if the establishments that are abandoned aren't taken care of, and boarded up to prevent unwanted persons from entering- that's when it becomes a city problem.
"If it does become a problem, in other words if there are people who get into the property or start fires there that certainly is an issue and that's when we seek to take some action," Kruea said.
The fire that ignited on Friday was the second fire at the motel in less than a one week period. Kruea said the city was already working with the owner of the Holiday South to improve the site prior to the fire.
"We've been working with the attorneys, the properties have been sold and apparently the new owners are inclined to tear them down, they just haven't pulled a demolition permit yet," Kruea said.
But the Holiday South is one of three abandoned motels that sit in a row along Ocean Boulevard. The Golden Sands and the Majestic Shores are also abandoned, and not boarded.
Jonathan Harbour General Manager Tim Zachary said because his motel sits directly to the right of the three abandoned motels, it causes an eyesore and has negative effects on his business.
"It's been somewhat discouraging being a neighbor to a building that's been abandoned for a few years and it's hurt our business and it's sort of an unsightly scar on the south end of the beach here," Zachary said.
Kruea said the city asked the owner of the Holiday South and the Golden Sands motels to demolish the buildings, and as soon as there is a demolition permit granted, those buildings will be knocked down.
Kruea said the Majestic Shores Motel is under new ownership, and the city is giving that owner some time to bring the motel up to code before the city steps in and enforces a demolition.
"The building codes are there for life and safety. We want to protect people. That's why there are building codes. If the property is not in use, there needs to be secured, boarded up so people can't get into it," Kruea said.