JUNE 27, 2005-- Investigators say an arsonist is to blame for the cloud of thick smoke that hovered over Carolina Beach all day Monday. The Hotel Astor was destroyed.
Pam Navarra lives in Carolina Beach. She was on the scene at 5:00 a.m Monday morning.
"The building was fully engulfed. It was hard to see anything there was so much smoke," said Navarra.
For the crowds that gathered just down the street, the scene became a fire and water show. Firefighters doused flames from below, above and everywhere in between.
Firefighters responded to the call just after 4:30 in the morning. Seventeen departments with 41 fire trucks were called in to fight the blaze.
Carolina Beach Fire Chief Brian Roberts said anything of this magnitude is definitely something you don't see often.
Kelly Fowler owns a business near the hotel.
"While I was talking to a Kure Beach officer, the whole second floor caved in right by my bar."
Fowler's bar was spared. The wind blew the other direction. While the timing couldn't be worse for business during the July 4th week, Fowler was relieved her building is still standing.
The town condemned the Hotel Astor a few weeks ago. The owner planned on bulldozing the landmark before Labor Day.
For those who grew up in Carolina Beach, it was difficult to watch the building burn.