SCFC: Nearly half of SC wildfires begin as escaped debris burns - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

SCFC: Nearly half of SC wildfires begin as escaped debris burns

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COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF) – The South Carolina Forestry Commission responded to 35 statewide wildfires on Thursday, and received 1,757 calls notifying them of debris burns, the SCFC reports.

Structure damage and losses were reported to SCFC all in one day, and were estimated around $273,000; most began as debris burns which escaped and became grass or wood fires.

"It's clear that after a wet winter thus far and a major ice storm behind us, our wildfire season is finally here," says Scott Hawkins, public information director with the Forestry Commission. Wildfire activity always picks up at some point in late winter/early spring in the southeastern U.S.

Even though Friday's rain meant a quiet day, SCFC anticipates an up tick in debris burn notification calls over the weekend.

Before you burn, state law requires you to call the Forestry Commission. Officials believe that the warm weather is coaxing many people outdoors to do storm cleanup.

For many people living in unincorporated areas, this means vegetative debris burns. SCFC recommends that you burn smaller piles and also be aware of changing wind speed and direction.

Hawkins states that because of the recent ice storm, the "fuel load" for wild land fire is heavier than normal in some places.

"We know folks want to put the storm behind them and one way to do that is to burn off downed limbs and branches on their property. Our fire staff just wants to make sure everyone understands and respects the factors that can cause a debris burn to turn into a wildfire they're unable to stop," Hawkins said.

A statistic report shows that wildfires usually peak on Saturday afternoons when people are active outdoors, fuel moisture is at its lowest, and winds are at their highest.

Think Before You Burn : A Guide to Safe Outdoor Burning can be found at http://www.state.sc.us/forest/fthink.pdf

Fire and burning information can be found on The SC Forestry Commission website: http://www.state.sc.us/forest/fire.htm

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