Neighbors blame moped for apartment fire

People living at Wachesaw Place in Murrells Inlet think a man trying to crank his moped on a porch sparked a fire that destroyed two units and heavily damaged two others.

Flames roared through one of the complex's four-unit apartment buildings Tuesday afternoon and left four families homeless.

"Very terrifying," is how one of the fire victims, Melissa Norris, explained the ordeal. "I was sick to death, sick to death."

Norris and others in the complex said a man's moped backfired when he tried to crank it on his screened-in back porch.

That man, who didn't give his name, confirmed the neighbors' stories and said that's how the fire started.

"I mean that's a silly thing to do. It's stupid, and they had no business messing with a moped on the back porch. That's what the driveway is for," Norris said, adding she was angry.

Another man who's being temporarily forced out of his apartment because of heavy smoke echoed the angry sentiments.

"There's certain things you don't do inside your house, and one of them is start a gas engine, and this is a perfect example of why you don't do it," Adam Wiseman said as he removed what he could from his apartment.

"(The man has) displaced four families, including (himself) -- one of them with four small kids, and I'm pretty upset with him," Wiseman added.

A captain with Murrells Inlet / Garden City Fire and Rescue said he couldn't confirm how the fire started and didn't say whether the man with the moped could face citations.

The American Red Cross arrived on scene and is offering temporary housing in local hotels to the families who were displaced.