Officials: Wildfire accusations 'premature'

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - After connecting a Conway man to the wildfires that damaged nearly 20,000 acres in Horry County last week, South Carolina Forestry Commission officials say their accusations were "premature."

Russell Hubwright told WMBF News Tuesday afternoon that an investigation continues into how the wildfire started.  Now, forestry officials are unsure of a connection between the fire and Marc Torchi, a resident of Woodlawn Drive where the fire originated.

The SCFC issued two tickets to Torchi in connection with the wildfire.  Investigators say Torchi had been burning household garbage on April 18, and strong winds allowed the "extinguished" fire to rekindle on Wednesday.

Officials say in a press release issued on Friday that forestry investigators used fire spread indicators to trace the origin of the Horry County wildfire back to Torchi's debris burn.

Torchi was slapped with $732 in fines for not notifying the Forestry Commission of a burn and for allowing fire to spread to the land of another.

An exact cause of the wildfire continues to be under investigation.

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