Torchi's court date delayed for burning violation

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The man South Carolina Forestry Commission officials originally said started a garbage fire that sparked the Horry County Wildfire in April will ask for more time to prepare his case before heading to court.

According to online court documents, Marc Torchi or a representative will head to court Thursday for a ticket issued for allowing a fire to spread to the land of another. Scott Hawkins, of the South Carolina Forestry Commission, says Torchi's lawyers are expected to ask for more time to piece together their case.

Both sides will meet Thursday as planned and decide on what day to proceed with the hearing. Hawkins tells the Associated Press the trial is expected for the week of Oct. 26.

In April, Torchi was slapped with $732 in fines for not notifying the Forestry Commission of a burn and for allowing the fire to spread to the land of another. Investigators say the Conway resident had been burning household garbage on April 18 and strong winds allowed the "extinguished" fire to rekindle.

In a press release issued by the SCFC, investigators used fire spread indicators to trace the origin of the Horry County wildfire back an area near Torchi's home on Woodlawn Drive.

Because the April 18 fire had been deemed as "extinguished" by Horry County Fire Rescue, Hawkins says Torchi can't be held responsible for the Horry County wildfire.

"We're not holding him criminally responsible for the wildfire since he did not personally start the wildfire," noted  Hawkins. "He was doing a debris burn and he didn't take precautions to ensure the debris burn stayed contained in the area of his yard."

The Horry County Wildfire forced 4,500 residents of Horry County to evacuate from their homes, as flames described as 150 feet tall ripped through nearly 30 square miles of land. A total of 76 homes were deemed a complete loss, while 96 others suffered minor to major damage.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford estimated the damage at $16 million. Estimates from the South Carolina Insurance News Service put damage topping $25 million.

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