Chief: No plans to change HCFR response policy

By Greg Argos - bio | email

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Besides some empty lots, new construction, and one burned palm tree, it's hard to imagine a massive wildfire destroyed more than 75 homes in the Barefoot Community of North Myrtle Beach.

"I feel like a million bucks," explained Bob Portteus, referring to his new home.

Portteus' home is now completely rebuilt after he and his wife lost everything in the fire. Portteus says he wants to see some changes within Horry County Fire-Rescue, particularly when it comes to ensuring brush fires are put out completely.

"I think you learn from your mistakes," he said.

However, HCFR Chief Garry Alderman says he doesn't think anything needs to be changed.

"My plans are not to change anything," Alderman said. "[I'll] leave everything status quo - the way we've been doing it."

The county's firefighters have been under pressure to change their techniques for responding to brush fires after an Associated Press report stated other agencies check back on brush fires after they've been put out to make sure they don't re-ignite.

Alderman says the county simply doesn't have the resources.

"You'd be pulling your resources thin," he said of the possibility of checking on every brush fire. "Plus, [there is] the manpower costs, plus the fuel costs of having to do something like this."

However, Portteus says those checks are important.

"It may seem to be very insignificant as far as a little fire, but I think they should have some kind of a follow up," he said, noting that step could prevent another massive blaze. "It's sort of like the tongue. The tongue may be one of the smaller parts of the body, but look at what can become of a wicked tongue. So a little insignificant fire can develop into a raging fire."

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