NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - No lives were lost in a massive fire in the Cherry Grove area Saturday night that consumed five buildings, according to North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley.
The fire began in the area of 49th Avenue North with one building. Then, wind gusts from Hurricane Matthew blew embers into other buildings, which then burst into flames.
A supervisor with North Myrtle Beach Fire went to the scene first to evaluate the fire, according to NMB Battalion Chief Todd Davis. They then made arrangements to get certain equipment and a team of firefighters to the scene with National Guard transportation.
While it was initially reported that because Cherry Grove was in an evacuation zone, firefighters were not allowed in, Davis clarified that the firefighters who went to the scene did not go against orders. There was nothing the firefighters could have done initially, as the strong winds from Hurricane Matthew prevented them from fighting the fire.
That first group was brought to the scene by the South Carolina National Guard, who came with only hoses and started spraying the other buildings so the fire wouldn't spread. Crews could not use ladder trucks because of the high winds, Davis said. Six trucks and three ladder trucks were at the scene of the fire, including assistance from Horry County Fire Rescue.
The fire was brought under control by about 1 a.m., according to Davis.
A WMBF News crew on scene said the fire was still smoking shortly before 4 a.m., Sunday. Crews were still spraying remaining hot spots with hoses Sunday morning, and will continue to stir debris and spray hot spots the rest of the day Sunday, and possibly into Monday, Davis said.
City spokesman Pat Dowling released the follow statement regarding response to the fire: