Dry weather and dry ground in many parts of the state could set the stage for another fire like the blazes that have swept the Myrtle Beach area since Wednesday.
That, along with limited fire-fighting forces, have prompted state emergency management and forestry officials to impose a statewide burning ban.
South Carolina Forestry Commission State Forester Gene Kodama says, “You have to dedicate so much resources to that fire, that if you had another fire –and we do have others going on—other fires, we would not have the resources that we would be able to respond.”
Kodama says maybe five years ago, they had more than 250 wildfire fighting units made up of a truck, a bulldozer and a plow plus state tractors and cooperators. Now there are 170.
“And that sounds like a lot,” he says, ” but when you distribute them over a 20-million-acre state, that’s not very many. So we have limited resources and when they get all pulled to one place, then you’re in a very precarious position as far as other fires that might occur.”
State Emergency Management Division DirectorRon Osvorne is requesting help from FEMA : a fire management assistance grant.
He says that it will “assist the state and locals to help provide for the cost of equipment and responders to help fight this fire.”
The wildfire, as of Thursday afternoon, is moving west to east toward the intracoastal waterway. State Forester Gene Kodama has no doubt it could jump the intracoastal waterway.
He explains, ” With a large fire like this, it is nothing like you and I ever experience in a day-to-day trash fire event. It generates its own weather, power and steam.”
He says it pulls objects, sparks and burning debris into the air. With the wind speed, the embers land ahead and ingnite ahead of itself.
Kodama says, “We call it a spot fire and that can be a few feet, to yards or even hundreds of yards or a quarter of a mile ahead. ”
He says that is why they are trained to constantly look for escape routes and have aeriel support.