OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — Investigators are trying to determine what caused a massive fire that destroyed a Brunswick County motel late Sunday night.
The fire was reported after 10 p.m. at the Ocean Crest Motel located at 1417 East Beach Drive in Oak Island.
According to the Oak Island Fire Department, 14 fire departments responded to assist in controlling the blaze.
The fire department said crews would remain at the scene Monday morning monitoring hot spots as investigators begin searching for clues as to what caused the fire.
According to WWAY Meteorologist Justin McKee, radar detected lightning at 9:50 p.m. near Oak Island.
The 10,000 square-foot motel was a two-story, wood-frame structure and currently under renovation.
Owner Walter Lorgan said he received a call about the fire from his front desk clerk who reported seeing flames coming from the balcony. Lorgan said the building was unoccupied at the time.
“This has probably taken close to 50 percent of my business, if not more,” Lorgan told WWAY News.
Lorgan said he probably won’t be able to rebuild due to the Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) which regulates development in 20 coastal communities in North Carolina.
Malcolm Prevatte is an Oak Island resident and former firefighter. WWAY spoke with him Sunday night as crews were battling the blaze.
“Fire suppression systems were doing the best they can, but with the wind the way it is and the way it’s located, it’s hard to fight it, so they’re gonna have to fight it out through the rest of the night,” Prevatte said.
Sunny Jemison, who lives a few blocks from the motel, said she was concerned when she heard a loud noise and smelled smoke.
“We came down to see if there was anything we could do,” Jemison said. “We saw the whole side of the motel that was being renovated was just engulfed in flames.”
Fortunately, no injuries were reported.