58 wild fires reported across S.C., red flag alert issued

  • Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013 12:01 a.m.

More than 50 wildfires broke out across the state on Saturday – at least six of them in Aiken County.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag Fire Weather Alert for the entire state early Saturday and it’s still in effect.

This does not outlaw debris burning in most unincorporated areas but the Commission strongly encourages residents to postpone burning to avoid potential problems.

As of 5 p.m. on Saturday, 58 wildfires were reported in South Carolina. Most of them were quite small, but a few covered areas as large as 100 acres like one that occurred in Williamsburg County.

Forestry Commission’s Scott Hawkins said that during this time of the year, a breakout of fires is typical but very preventable. He said nearly half of these fires are caused by escaped debris burning. At least three of the six wildfires started in Aiken County were confirmed as being ignited by debris burning.

Hawkins said the reason behind the high case of wildfires on Saturday was due to what he called a “perfect storm.” Strong wind gusts, low relative humidity and warmer temperatures all contributed to the elevated fire danger.

Hawkins added that the state Forestry Commission fights 2,000 to 3,000 fires a year.

The Commission reminds residents that some local ordinances do ban burning during a red flag alert.

Other ordinances, like the one in Aiken City, do not allow outdoor burning at all.

Residents are also reminded that they must contact the Forestry Commission whenever they plan to conduct a burn.

If you are planning to conduct an outdoor burn in the future, call the S.C. Forestry Commission office in Aiken County at 800-895-7057. For more information, visit www.state.sc.us/forest/laws.htm.

Again, it is advised by the Forestry Commission to please hold off on outdoor burning until the red flag alert is lifted.

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