While many families in South Carolina are settling down for Thanksgiving, crews will spend their day fighting an ongoing wildfire in the Upstate mountains that is steadily growing towards the North Carolina border.
Gov. Nikki Haley has declared a state of emergency in Greenville and Pickens counties as the wildfire there continues to burn a rugged mountain wilderness upstream of the Table Rock Reservoir. Nearly 7,300 acres had burned as of Wednesday, but firefighters say the blaze remains only 37 percent contained.
“It’s burning at not necessarily a rapid pace, it’s slow and steady,” Deputy Director of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Emergency Division Jay Marett said.
Crews said they plan another controlled ban Thursday in an attempt to remove fuel from the fire’s path towards Buzzard Mountain and Rocky Mountain. A similar effort checked the fire’s eastward advance last week towards homes around Table Rock State Park before another section jumped the South Saluda River to expand northward, instead. Marett said he was not sure of the acreage size for the additional burnout area.
Officials are closing all public trails between Caesar’s Head State Park and Sassafras Mountain along the North Carolina border, including the popular Ravenscliff Falls hike, that section of the Foothills Trail, as well as the Dismal and Gum Gap trails. Table Rock State Park remains closed outside its visitors center. The State Parks Service plans to re-open the park’s trails in stages conditions are deemed safe for the public. Many were damaged in the fire the past two weeks.
No evacuations have been ordered at this time, although North Carolina officials are telling residents along the border to be on alert.
Tuesday’s emergency declaration allows the governor to request help from the South Carolina National Guard and the State Guard. The fire has cost various state agencies more than $2.6 million to fight so far.