Myrtle Beach officials shut down a commercial building Wednesday morning that was illegally housing international students in town to work for the summer.
The building, at 804 Oak St., was a vacant commercial building that had been converted into dorm-style rooms to house the students, said Myrtle Beach Fire Marshal Bruce Arnel.
“There were several violations stemming from the fact that it’s a commercial building,” he said. “There was no fire alarm system, no sprinkler system, no smoke detectors.”
The owner, David Wayne Bell, was given until 10 a.m. Wednesday to relocate the students.
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The police department cited Bell for operating a business without a license. Bell could not be reached Wednesday.
This is the second time this week a building was evacuated and international students were displaced due to safety violations. On Monday, about 100 to 120 international students had to find new housing after the fire marshal shut down parts of Calypso Inn on Flagg Street in Myrtle Beach for overcrowding and a lack of working smoke detectors.
Arnel said the city is not going to tolerate illegal practices when it comes to housing international students for the summer.
“I want to tell the business community that if you’re doing this sort of thing you need to stop and think about the safety issues,” he said. “And if we find out they’re violating any codes we will come after them.”
Fire marshals, police officers and members of the building department inspected Bell’s building Tuesday night after a student approached police during an international student orientation Tuesday morning at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, according to police spokesman Capt. David Knipes.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Myrtle Beach police Lt. Pete Woods credited the orientations with being able to help the students. Woods helps organize the orientations.
“It is because of these meetings [Calypso was evacuated],” Woods said Tuesday. “Before, we wouldn’t have known about something like this until the end of the summer.”
The orientations, which have been held almost weekly since May, were established last year as a way to curb crime against the students and help them get acclimated to the area, Woods said.
Arnel said they found three students staying in Bell’s commercial building. He said the building had six beds.
Arnel said the building department posted signs deeming the building as unsafe and it was evacuated.
On Monday, one entire building and the third floor of a second building at Calypso Inn were evacuated. Arnel said officials found as many as 14 students staying in one apartment.
Calypso owner Yehuda Sadeh said the students chose to live with so many people in one room on their own, took the smoke detectors down themselves, were loud late at night and broke furniture and televisions in the rooms. Students contacted Monday and Tuesday denied those claims.