Firefighters are keeping an eye on a smoldering fire that they contained over the weekend after it burned nearly 200 acres of forest and caused the evacuation of about 50 homes near Myrtle Beach.
South Carolina Forestry Commission spokesman Scott Hawkins says the fire burned 178 acres near the Legends Golf Resort and subdivision Saturday before firefighters were able to contain it. The evacuated residents were allowed to return to their homes after a few hours and no structures were damaged.
One man was ticketed for not taking proper precautions with a debris fire. He was later arrested on unrelated charges.
Hawkins says the soil under the fire has plenty of organic material that can burn easily, so it may be weeks before officials are confident the fire will not ignite again. “The undeveloped forest land is Carolina Bay terrain,” he said, “Even in somewhat high humidity and wet weather it can burn and burn and burn.”
34-year-old Larry Faircloth was cited for starting a debris fire without taking the proper precautions and allowing it to burn out of control. Faircloth had cleared the fire with the Forestry Commission beforehand. Debris burns are allowed in the unincorporated parts of South Carolina.
The Commission usually does not release the name of a person they ticket for violations. However, law enforcement officials realized Faircloth had three outstanding warrants for fraudulent checks and arrested him.
No one was hurt by the fire itself, but two Fair Bluff firefighters had to be hospitalized when their tanker blew a tire and flipped while driving on U.S. 501.
Matt Long contributed to this report