HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Sunday marked one year since one of the worst wild fires in the history of Horry County tore through the Windsor Green community, destroying homes and displacing hundreds of people.
The weather on Sunday was very different from March 16, 2013, when low humidity and high winds created the right conditions for a quick-spreading wildfire. One year later, on a dreary, rainy Sunday, the memory of the fire is clear for those still living at Windsor Green.
Just after 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 2013, the flames sparked near the Windsor Green Community. The weather conditions that day created a perfect storm for the fire to take a life of its own.
"It's a day I'll never forget," said Jerry DelPercio, who had just gotten home from work with the Horry County Sheriff's Office when the fire started.
"I looked and I said that smoke isn't white, that's black. I said that's got to be a building," said Windsor Green resident Gail DelPercio.
Still in uniform, DelPercio went to investigate.
"I called dispatch and said we're in worse trouble, they needed every unit possible to go out," Jerry DelPercio said. "I saw the first unit go up. The firemen were hollering at people
DelPercio directed traffic as emergency responders rushed to the scene, which he can only describe as an inferno.
"I actually watched the fire jump the fire truck and go to the next unit," he said.
And the 911 calls became more frantic.
"It's got to be 50 feet high right now!" said one caller.
"There are people screaming for help!" said another.
"Literally, in the last three seconds, it's probably moved another two football fields," a caller told another 911 operator.
Sunday, one year later, the DelPercio family is still haunted by the memory.
"I had a terrible time sleeping," Gail DelPercio said. "First thing I would do when I woke up was look out the window to make sure everything was okay."
And while they lost everything in the flames, including irreplaceable items like their picture albums, they're determined to make their new condo their home, even framing a picture drawn for them by a Sunday school student following the fire.
Windsor Green is becoming fire wise community, getting rid of this line of pine trees which many neighbors remember as a wall of flames, and getting rid of the pine needles around the homes.
View complete coverage of the Windsor Green fire here: http://www.wmbfnews.com/category/260493/carolina-forest-fire?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass