Two disasters in the same day turn Garden City church retreat into a nightmare

Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 8:12 AM EDT
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GARDEN CITY, S.C. (WMBF) - A fire destroyed two homes and damaged another just hours after Hurricane Ian hit, and about 25 people were renting the home next door to where the fire quickly spread.

No one was in the home where the fire initially started, but a group of church retreaters were having a bible study when they saw the home next door go up in flames.

The group called 911 and all made it out of the home safely.

Ryan Swaim, the manager at Dunes Realty Vacation Rentals, manages the property the group was renting and said he hates to lose one of their most popular rental sites but is glad everyone is safe.

“My first reaction was to make sure they were alright. I know the renter personally. She called me on my cellphone to tell me what was happening. It was an extremely nice house though. One of the nicest we manage,” said Swaim.

Swaim said Dunes Realty only manages the property, so it will be up to the couple who owns the house if they want to rebuild or sell the land.

The Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District responded to the call about the fire Friday at around 8 p.m.

However, with all the sand Hurricane Ian pushed onto the roads, the fire district said they had to call in brush trucks from Horry County and a backhoe from Surfside Beach public work officials so they could get to the homes and fight the flames.

Tom Zimpleman, the Division Chief Fire Marshal for Murrells Inlet-Garden City fire district, said the hurricane made their jobs much more difficult.

“It was a rough one because you know with the conditions of the road we couldn’t get fire trucks or anything down there. So, we kind of had to just fly by the seat of our pants trying to get that one put out,” said Zimpleman.

When crews first arrived there was no water pressure due to a broken water main which added to their difficulties in putting the fire out.

Horry County Fire Rescue brought in a tanker with water to help and crews knocked out the bulk of the fire at around 2 a.m.

The fire started is still under investigation.