The SC forestry commission is asking the judicial community for back up when it comes to burning law violations.
Week-end wildfires in South Carolina burned more than 500 acres. With budget cut-backs, fighting out-of-control fires that begin by careless outdoor debris burns will be tougher than ever.
Spokesman for the South Carolina Forestry Commission, Scott Hawkins said a zero tolerance approach is being implemented when it comes to these violations.
In the coming weeks we’re going to have to put a lot of emphasis on prevention and we’re hoping that the judicial community will back us up on this when we write tickets for the two most common violations our law enforcement officers see, that is burn violations. You know, by law, you have to notify the Forestry Commission before you do an outdoor debris burn.
Hawkins says a lot of people don’t see this as a major crime and that strict enforcement of the laws will help get the word out.
What we want is for the broader public to know that these are dangerous citations. These are very troubling times in terms of budgetary restrictions we have in fire-fighting capacity, so that if these laws are in place and if they’re enforced, and people are fined when they break these laws, then hopefully that’s just one of the many methods that we’ll employ in getting the word out that we need everybody participating in fire prevention in this state.
Eighty percent of the forestry in the state are privately owned and are major investments in the state. Hawkins says fire prevention is a major way of protecting this industry and the resources.
If we don’t take an active approach in fire prevention as a state, then why should forest product industries invest in South Carolina? Why should they put up mills? Why should they put up harvesting operations? Why should they buy land? Why should they employ us if, as a state, we don’t protect our forest resources?
A major campaign that has been used is to “think before you burn.” Hawkins says there’s a difference between building a little campfire and making s’mores or burning a season’s worth of vegetative debris. ” We just want you to do it wisely. Take proper precautions, make sure you have plenty of water and manpower on hand to keep that burn from escaping from you. Because if it burns to the neighbor’s property, that’s a ticket.”