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      Atlantic Beach motel catches fire

      Horry County firefighters were called to an abandoned hotel on 30th Avenue South and Highway 17 in Atlantic Beach just before 11 a.m. Tuesday.

      "The call was for an efficiency motel that was on fire with flames showing," Asst. Chief Doug Cline with Horry County Fire Rescue sa id .

      More than 20 firefighters from Horry County Fire Rescue and North Myrtle Beach Fire responded . . When they got there, they say there was fire showing from the second floor of the two-story motel.

      "I was sleeping at 10:30 this morning. A gentleman from another rental unit came down and was pounding on the door saying everybody get out it's a fire," Martin Sienkiewicz, who lives in the apartment complex near the building.

      A home next door was damaged. No one was hurt.

      Cline says firefighters are still investigating the cause, but neighbors say squatting was common at this place.

      "I just hope nobody was in there, because there had been some homeless transients in there," Sienkiewicz said.

      "I've gone in there personally because my dog ran in there like two weeks ago and I ran in there after him there's just piles of garbage with candles right next to it, lit," said Brian Brown, a neighbor.

      Abandon buildings and squatting is a problem Atlantic Beach administrators have tried to tackle before. In April 2011, the town issued a zero tolerance policy on trash and abandoned buildings, issuing 500 dollar tickets for littering.

      Police also sent letters to owners of 16 abandoned homes. Seven of them were on 30th Avenue, including this one that burned down today. At the time the town was planning on demolishing the abandoned buildings. This summer, the town's administration changed, leaving with it that program. Town Councilman Jake Evans told us that the last time any abandoned buildings were demolished was in 2011.