Flames ‘higher than the oak trees,’ witness describes fire at Ocean Lakes Campground

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SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – While a fire spread through homes at Ocean Lakes Campground near Surfside Beach early Friday morning, the first sign of trouble to a man who lives nearby was a popping sound.

Daniel Evans was getting ready for work at his home on 17th Avenue North. “I thought it was the neighbor’s car door slamming, somebody getting ready for work, but as I was walking through my living room, usually it’s pitch black that time of day, and it seemed awful bright,” Evans said.

Behind his neighbor’s home, he saw part of the Ocean Lakes Campground on fire.

“The flames were higher than the oak trees,” said Evans. “It was pretty hot.” He raced to wake up his neighbors.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Evans

“They were startled. They were pretty rattled and they didn’t know if, what kind of commotion, if they were getting robbed, if there was some kind of trouble or whatever,” Evans told News13. “But they were pretty startled, but at that time of day, who isn’t?”

Evans, who described the Ocean Lakes Campground as a “maze,” called 911 and suggested firefighters respond to 17th Avenue North where they might get better access.

In the meantime, the popping continued. “There was a couple of instances where flames shooting straight up in the air, like concentrated, like it was coming from a gas tank,” Evans said.

Courtesy of Tony Casey, HCFR

“I heard at least one guy coming from the campground, one guy yelling, trying to wake everybody up. Somebody driving their car, laid on the car horn to just kinda wake up the neighborhood,” according to Evans.

By the time the fire was out, Horry County Fire Rescue reported 10 buildings were damaged. Three of those collapsed, according to Chief Joey Tanner.

“We’re happy to report right now, there’s been no injuries,” Tanner said, “but 45 people have been affected by that and we’re working with them right now and I’m sure the Red Cross will be working with them as well.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital as a precaution for heat exhaustion, according to Tanner.

“The investigation is just beginning, of course,” Tanner said. “A lot of debris to go through to determine what the cause of this fire is.”

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