‘It can’t be rebuilt’: Motel owner picks up pieces after massive fire

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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) — An Oak Island motel owner is quite literally picking up the pieces after a fire burned one of his buildings to the ground Sunday night.

A call to the front desk from a guest in the other building is what led Walter Lorgan to find his Ocean Crest Motel going up in flames.

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Lorgan and his wife lived in one of the town homes and are thankful to have made it out alive.

“It’s gone,” Lorgan said. “This is our retirement. It’s our livelihood and our primary possession. We’ve lost everything completely.”

Lorgan doesn’t know what’s next for him and the Ocean Crest Motel. The motel’s premier building went up in flames Sunday night, leaving everything inside charred.

“It is devastating,” Lorgan said. “We spent a lot of time building this up. We were in the process of remodeling the balconies this year. last year, we put all new furniture in the place. We put all new flooring in there. We’ve done extensive work for the last seven or eight years on it, and it’s all gone.”

Lorgan says they were about a week away from finishing the remodel. He says this building alone brings in 70% of his revenue.

20 rooms and two town homes were destroyed.

“A landmark gone,” Michael Bodiford said. “We don’t have many motels on the island anyways, so it’ll be missed. It will be missed.”

Bodiford was one of dozens who came to check out damage.

“I’m still just overwhelmed,” Betty Lamster said. “I didn’t expect to see it burnt completely down to the ground.”

Residents were devastated to see a large portion of the ocean front motel gone. The motel has been around since the 1960s.

What’s next for Lorgan?

“It can’t be rebuilt,” he said.” “And even if it could be rebuilt, I don’t know if I could really be up to, at this stage of my life, rebuilding it. We’re going to keep the other rooms up and running. We have people in there right now. We have people coming down this weekend. As far as our customers, they’re very loyal, and they keep coming back and seeing us no matter what we go through.”

Lorgan says he would have to spend a lot of time getting new permits to rebuild. He says now, ocean front buildings are not supposed to be more than 5,000 sq. ft. His was 12,000 sq. ft.

The Oak Island fire chief says the cause of the fire is still under investigation. He says there did not appear to be any building code issues.