Firefighters are trying to contain a growing 400-acre wildfire affecting part of the popular Table Rock State Park near the North Carolina border.
About 75 firefighters from Pickens County and the South Carolina Forestry Commission were fighting the blaze on Pinnacle Mountain. The fire is only about 10 percent contained as of Friday afternoon. No evacuations have been ordered yet, but trails at the park remain closed. Emergency personnel are making plans for evacuation if necessary but no structures have been affected and the fire has remained on state park property.
A Forestry Commission spokesman said crews are trying to clear a path for the fire to burn north towards the South Saluda River, which they hope will act as a natural firebreak. He told the Anderson Independent-Mail that would create a 2,500-acre total burnout area.
County officials are asking nearby landowners to clear any leaves, debris, and brush away from their homes to reduce the risk of damage should the fire spread.
The blaze is the latest symptom of a severe drought across the Upstate and Midlands. The same drought has helped spawn larger wildfires in North Carolina. National Weather Service meteorologists say parts of the state from Columbia to the northwest have not seen rain in more than a month.
An outdoor burning ban is in effect for all 16 counties northwest of Columbia across the Upstate and Piedmont regions. The State Forester’s ban covers Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union and York counties.
The ban prohibits outdoor burning, such as yard debris burns and controlled burns for timber, wildlife or agricultural purposes. Campfires and open-fire cooking are still allowed, but the Forestry Commission is strongly encouraging citizens in the five initial counties not to start the fires unless necessary.