Atlantic Beach Bikefest tents deemed 'extremely dangerous' by county

Atlantic Beach Bikefest tents deemed 'extremely dangerous' by county
Photo included in HCFR's letter about safety concerns. (Source: HCFR)
Photo included in HCFR's letter about safety concerns. (Source: HCFR)
Photo included in HCFR's letter about safety concerns. (Source: HCFR)
Photo included in HCFR's letter about safety concerns. (Source: HCFR)

ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Atlantic Beach officials have approved Bikefest entertainment areas. This comes after the Horry County Fire Department and the county administrator have deemed the entertainment areas in Atlantic Beach where Bikefest festivities are being held as "extremely dangerous" and provided a list of safety concerns to the event organizer and town leadership.

“Everything was checked out beforehand the Horry County fire marshal came out and checked out the tent and they sent out an email and corrected whatever needed to be corrected inside of that tent," said Atlantic Beach Police Chief Timothy Taylor.

On Tuesday, representatives from Horry County Fire and Rescue reviewed the areas, which include a series of tents that combine to a size of about 120 feet by 120 feet at the corner of 30th Avenue and South Ocean Boulevard in Atlantic Beach town limits, according to a letter sent to County Administrator Chris Eldridge from Horry County Fire Chief Joseph Tanner obtained by WMBF News.

Among the concerns noted by the fire chief:

-The only entrance and exit to the tent area is about eight feet in width. This serves as both the entrance and exit for the entire 15,000-plus square foot area. The entire area is surrounded by a 6 to 8-foot-high chain link fence which is bolted together. The venue will told at least 1,500 to 2,000 people.

-The lot where the tents sit has not been leveled, and there are rubber tiles that stick up and pose as trip hazards for those walking around the area.

-Two tent walls are totally enclosed with plastic sheeting, which creates an "extreme hazard in the event of an incident, as it would block any means of getting out from under the tents in these areas."

-Several "VIP" areas have been set up under the tent with cloth skirting and sofas. Because smoking will be allowed, the fire load will be high, and the status of any fire proofing of the contents of these areas is unknown.

-Tent bars have been constructed out of plywood with pallets stacked behind them, which creates a large fire load.

-The position of the portable bathrooms and trucks carrying equipment block a large portion of the egress, and creates a chute that combines incoming, outgoing and restroom traffic. This could concentrate a large crowd in the area is any event may occur.

-No fire safety equipment was seen at the site, making any fire that occurs difficult to control.

"This event poses a high risk for fire hazards and personal injuries associated with the location and event set up," the letter states.

The letters were sent to WMBF News from a concerned citizen, and their authenticity was verified by Horry County representative Lisa Bourcier.

Event organizer, Tony Marcus tells WMBF News that these tent issues have been addressed. The tent he manages now has three exit locations and several no smoking signs.

“Everything is within code we have everything that is acquired for any festival that takes place in Horry County," said Marcus.

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