A Look Back: Matthew leads to devastating North Myrtle Beach fire

A Look Back: Matthew leads to devastating North Myrtle Beach fire

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Floods from Hurricane Matthew devastated the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee in October, soaking homes and water-logging entire towns.

When it came to fires resulting from the storm's surge, perhaps no area was hit harder than North Myrtle Beach.

In a fire so ferocious, flames actually hopped 49th Avenue North and continued their path of destruction, charring buildings in its way.

Sue Handy is a permanent resident in the building next door. Her home did not burn, but she is beyond grateful she heeded South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's warning to get out. She watched her neighbors' homes go up in flames in real time on social media.

"It was across the street, so I thought that's where it is," Handy said. "And then we literally watched it jump across the street and then you could see that the wind was all heading in this direction."

When the flames finally fizzled, six buildings were burned - five were total losses - to the tune of just under $7 million from this fire alone.

The fire started in a structure which housed condos. Because the hurricane-force winds were so strong, it brought the fire across the street.

It was a situation that began around 8 p.m., on the night of Oct. 8, while Hurricane Matthew's presence was still being felt. That prevented some of the firefighters from responding to fight the flames because of safety concerns from the storm.

Eventually, firefighters were able to get into the area. A lot of water and a lot of hard work was used to bring the blaze under control.

Now, the rebuilding process has begun as residents give thanks no lives were lost and prepare to begin again.

After a thorough investigation, the North Myrtle Beach Fire Department determined the fire was caused by a storm surge from Matthew.

They say water got into electrical equipment, sparking the first fire. Once engulfed, heavy wind pushed the fire to the additional buildings.

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