Fire crews battling blaze near Carolina Forest subdivision - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

SCFC: Hornet Fire now 100 percent contained

Source: WMBF Doppler Radar Source: WMBF Doppler Radar
Source: Jessica Handy of Carolina Forest Source: Jessica Handy of Carolina Forest
Source: Jessica Handy of Carolina Forest Source: Jessica Handy of Carolina Forest

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The South Carolina Forestry Commission has contained a brush fire wedged between Carolina Forest and Highway 90 Sunday morning.

SCFC Duty Officer Doug Mills said July 4 the GPS acreage of the fire was at 258.7 acres. Crews used burn out operations, fighting fire with fire, in order to contain the blaze.

Burn outs increased acerage of the fire, leaving it at an estimated 773 Tuesday morning.

Scott Hawkins, spokesman for the South Carolina Forestry Commission, said July 4th's burn out operations burned an additional 515 acres. He also said the Avalon subdivision was even more secure thanks to the burn outs.

Hawkins added the fire has been officially named "Hornet Fire" because several firefighters have been stung by hornets while on scene.

July 5, afternoon, the fire reached its peak activity, Hawkins said. Flames were said to reach up to 15-feet and residents were told they would see heavy smoke to the northeast.

Hawkins said on July 6 the fire was 75 percent contained. On Monday, Hawkins said the fire was finally 100 percent contained around noon on Sunday.

Although the smoke advisory has been lifted for Hwy 90, officials say drivers were told to expect heavy smoke on Highways 90 and 22 due to back burning operations. Smoke could become thick during the morning hours for commuters.

Drivers were told to exercise extreme caution.

Hawkins said those operations created a lot of additional smoke, but that smoke did not mean the fire was changing direction or intensifying.

"We've got some real estate to work with, and we want to protect the resources as much as we can. The more important resource other than the trees are the improved structures and homes like that [near the fire site]," SCFC incident spokesman Russell Hubright said.

The flames are not threatening any homes and the most active part of the fire is at least a mile away from the nearest structure. There are no evacuation orders for residents nearby. 

Hawkins also said crews have been struggling with insects, terrain and vegetation in the area as they battle the blaze near the Avalon subdivision west of International Drive.

"In this kind of situation in Horry County, [a fire] will burn down into the dirt, so we've cleared all that organic soil - or the peat. We have to clear all that stuff out of the way so that nothing that is flammable is left," Hubright added.

The fire is currently burning near a portion of land claimed by the 2009 Horry County wildfires.

Hubright says the fire crews are battling much more than the flames in order to put out the fire.

"It wears on you emotionally too because you're trying to get the job done, you want to do the very best job you can. You don't want it to spread anymore than it already has and you've got in the background of your mind this fire that happened two years ago-you don't want this to have that same outcome," he explains.

The fire first sparked around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Leslie Yancey, spokeswoman for Horry County Fire Rescue.

On Sunday night, fire equipment was said to be stuck in the mud at times and Hawkins said the fire was able to escape through a weak scratch line on the left flank.

"We have time right now, and we have some resources in. That's our game plan - to get this thing contained, the motion of this thing to stop, and to reinforce lines around [the fire] before it ever gets close to something of high value," Hubright said.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved

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