SURF CITY, PENDER COUNTY -

More than a year after a major fire that destroyed part of Tiffany's Motel in Surf City, the owners have reopened with a new and improved business.

"It was just a few corners of the building remaining, and it was just a smoldering mess," said owner Boyd Taylor. "It was tragic."

More than 50 mph winds made that fire nearly impossible to fight -- destroying the older building in the motel in January 2013. Taylor says the building was a total loss, but emergency responders were able to save the original pool.

Now, they've built a new building with more rooms, king sized beds and the perfect ocean view.

"This is a remarkable change even from the old Tiffany's," said Paul Werkmeister, one of the first firefighters on scene of that fire.

Werkmeister came to the grand re-opening to see the new building, where he had once fought the flames.

City officials and motel employees cut the ribbon Friday morning.

Taylor says the loss had drastically hurt business, but things are looking brighter for this year, as reservations are already kicking in.

"Last year up to this point, this year is up 23 percent, so we're expecting a really good year for Tiffany's Motel," Taylor said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but officials believe it to be accidental.