Business as usual at Myrtle Beach City Hall after attempted arson

mprabhu@thesunnews.comDecember 4, 2013 

— By late Wednesday morning, it was back to business as usual at Myrtle Beach City Hall despite the fact that someone tried to set the building on fire the night before.

Myrtle Beach police said two people attempted to set fire to City Hall late Tuesday night and, due to the quick action of an employee of a nearby business, the fire was extinguished before officers even responded. Officers report minimal damage to the outside of the building and none inside.

“I’m not concerned,” said senior planner Allison Hardin. “The building is sturdy. It’s brick and concrete. … If it was something we were concerned about we’d be in the hallways talking about it. But everyone’s working.”

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said there was damage to one window screen on the south side of City Hall near the parking lot and some of the bushes below the window, but other than a strong smell of diesel in the building early Wednesday, the building was fine.

According to a police report, officers responded to Myrtle Beach City Hall, located at 937 Broadway St., at about 11 p.m. Tuesday for the reported fire. Once there, the officer spoke with a witness who said he heard a loud explosion and saw a large fireball erupt from City Hall as he sat outside Fresh Brewed Coffee House, located around the corner.

He said he saw two people – possibly between the ages of 16 and 25 – running from City Hall but was unable to identify anything else about them. The witness told police he returned to Fresh Brewed, where he works, to retrieve a fire extinguisher and put out the fire.

Police believe the people suspected of the attempted arson threw bottles with flammable liquids and cloth wicks at the windows.

Assistant city manager John Pedersen, who went to City Hall Tuesday night after learning of the attempted fire, said everyone in the building seemed to be unfazed by the incident on Wednesday.

“Nobody’s expressed to me that [they’re] scared to work here,” he said.

Hardin said the only concern she had after the attempted fire was some of the items she keeps in her office.

“I’m probably going to take some of my personal things home, just in case,” she said.

Kruea said he had no idea why someone would try to set the building on fire.

“It is puzzling,” he said. “We’re not aware that anyone had a reason to be unhappy with us as of late. I don’t have a good explanation.”

He said he’s not aware of anything similar happening at City Hall in the 15 years he’s worked there.

The police and fire departments contacted the S.C. Law Enforcement Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to assist with the investigation.

Anyone with information about the incident can call the S.C. Arson Hotline at 1-800-92-ARSON.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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