MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Crews were called to a fire at a building home to two businesses in downtown Myrtle Beach early Wednesday morning. Preliminary findings from Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue suggest a t-shirt press that was left on may have caused the fire.
Police are calling the fire suspicious in their report, which outlined that two people were seen on a surveillance camera leaving the scene of the fire.
Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the Wacky T's and Nightmare Haunted House building when a WMBF News crew arrived around 1:30 a.m. The building is along Wither's Alley, which is adjacent to North Ocean Boulevard. Fire crews were on scene by about 1 a.m., according to Lt. Christian Sliker with MBFR.
There was extensive fire and smoke damage to the building, and adjacent buildings had some smoke damage, but no fire damage, according to Lt. Sliker.
The fire is still under investigation, Lt. Sliker said, but preliminary findings suggest a t-shirt press might have been left on.
A city surveillance camera showed two people running south towards the intersection of Mr. Joe White Avenue and Wither's Alley, according to the police report. The camera showed them getting into a truck and leaving north on North Ocean Boulevard.
A short time later, an officer found the vehicle and conducted a traffic stop, the report continued. Two of the three inside were identified as the people seen on camera running from the scene. WMBF News has reached out to Myrtle Beach Police for more details on these individuals.
One firefighter was injured while fighting the fire, Lt. Sliker confirmed. He did not know how the firefighter was injured, but said he was taken to a nearby hospital and released.
The fire appeared to be out by 2:15 a.m.
Through the morning, fire investigators were at the shop with flashlights, looking around while they investigated. The man who leases the entire building, and sub-lets to the Wacky T's owners, Chris Walker, talked with WMBF News crews about the impact a fire like this can have on a business.
"All these stores down here, you've got as much stock in your store right now as you're going to have the rest of the year," Walker said. "So just in stock alone, it's a pretty devastating loss. And like I said, just to lose a weekend, a week, two weeks. That's pretty tough to make up in one year. Something like this, you can kind of equate it to a hurricane for a business."
Walker owns the Nightmare Haunted House on the top floor of the building. While flames were shooting from the roof at one point, Walker said his business should be okay.
"I was able to get in there and check,"Walker confirmed. "A little bit of smoke you can smell up there. So I'm hoping it is not going to affect me, but you never know. The city, the fire, they have to come through and inspect the building and make sure it's safe, structurally safe. So, hopefully everything will check out and we'll be able to get things back open up there sooner rather than later."