Rain no help to putting out wildfire in Horry County

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As crews fought a wildfire in Horry County Friday, they were hoping for days of showers. Instead, crews saw only a few hours of rain.

Gray Vallentine of the South Carolina Forestry Commission says the wildfire along Hardwick Road near Conway is an underground fire, burning several inches into the soil. He says the small amount of rain did not saturate the ground.

Vallentine adds that lots of rain is needed to be effective in stopping the fire. Simply putting water on top of the ground doesn't help much.

"We have to get down with shovels and other hand tools, dig it out and get it to where there's nothing smoldering at all," Vallentine explained.

Eric West is a forester and has been working on the fire for several days. He says crews do use water to put the fire out, but in a much more effective way.

"We [have] some high pressure nozzles and we can turn them up real high and just hold it there steady and kind of just dig a hole with water," West explained. "We actually do two things at once - wet it down and dig down with that high pressure stream."

The fire has been burning for just over two weeks since lightning sparked it back in June. The blaze has now spread to 140 acres of land.

About 16 personnel from the Forestry Commission, along with 10 others from Horry County Fire Rescue are fighting the flames. Forestry officials say the fire isn't threatening any homes, but smoke on area roadways is an issue.

They say when there's a lot of fog outside, and not a lot of wind. Smoke builds up in the area, which can make it tough for drivers to see.

The Forestry Commission says it could be a problem for a little bit longer because even though the fire is contained, it's not yet out.

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