HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — An Horry County fire report reveals new details about the evacuation of a “structurally unsound” oceanfront condo early this month.
The fire report was obtained Thursday by News13 through a Freedom of Information Act request filed Oct. 13 after county officials wouldn’t provide any details about the situation.
“I was informed that a representative from Horry County Code Enforcement was at the station stating that [they] need assistance evacuating the Renaissance Towers at 5905 S. Kings Highway due to a possible structural collapse,” the fire report reads.
Fire crews met with the Horry County Police Department and Code Enforcement, who said the building is “structurally unsound and needed to be evacuated,” according to the report. Crews went up to the 22nd floor to begin evacuations.
The report states there was no apparent “immediate threats or issues visible” when crews first approached.
The report says 267 occupants were evacuated along with their belongings over a five-hour period on Oct. 7. The building was then searched a second time.
News13 received viewer and resident complaints at the time of the evacuation, but no one we contacted provided information. We reached out to Horry County Fire Rescue the day of the evacuation and were directed to county spokesperson Thomas Bell.
News13 reached out to Bell that Friday night via email and again by phone the following Monday morning.
In a phone call, Bell said the county was aware of a situation involving the property but couldn’t provide any other information. He directed News13 to the property for more information. After a couple days of trying to contact the property management, including disconnected phone calls and no calls back, News13 called Horry County Code Enforcement Oct. 12, which directed us back to the county spokesperson.
We again reached out to the building management company and asked to speak to someone who sent a letter about the property. We were told that person wasn’t available and that there was “no comment.” The person hung up the phone.
Some condo owners filed a federal lawsuit earlier in the month, claiming the property managers ignored structural damage for years, resulting in residents being evacuated.
The suit compares the situation to a condo collapse in Florida — which left 98 people dead.
The lawsuit claims the board of the Renaissance Tower “and its management company knew for years about steadily worsening damage to structural steel components supporting the building yet failed to undertake further inspections or any repairs and allowed the damage to worsen.”