Fire officials say they have contained a 2,600 acre wildfire near the border of Charleston and Georgetown Counties. The state Forestry Commission said 16 structures were destroyed, none of them homes.
Most of the fire’s damage was in the area’s timber industry. State Forester Gene Kodama flew over the fire Thursday and said he believed anywhere from $1.5 million to $2 million in timber in was lost.
The scorched land is part of Francis Marion National Forest, which is often used by lumber companies for harvesting trees. Commission spokesman Scott Hawkins say landowners there view the trees as an investment.
Standing timber is valuable…It’s like a farmer who has crops growing and a fire tears through and ruins (them).
Timber is one of South Carolina’s largest industries. The state Department of Agriculture calls it South Carolina’s “most valued crop,” with a delivered value of $835 million.
Officials said more humid weather and lower wind speeds helped firefighters contain the fire. However, it will probably not be completely out for several more days.
The unusual topography of the area didn’t help, especially the presence of “Carolina bays”–elliptical, swampy areas that is not connected to any river. Hawkins said its condition also provides ample fuel for a wildfire.
Those Carolina bays (make it) hard to put fires out. The soils are organic and they tend to burn deep into the ground. They’re tricky, and that’s what’s getting us a little bit of a delay.
Although officials say the fire is now 100 percent contained, that does not mean it is extinguished. “Contained” means firefighters have the burning area surrounded with trenches or fire lines to prevent its further spread.