Horry County proposes permanent burn ban

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A permanent burn ban is steps closer to becoming a reality in Horry County.

The proposed ban would restrict open fires east of the Intracoastal Waterway from the North Carolina border to Georgetown County. County leaders discussed the idea during a public safety meeting on Monday.

"My entire house fills up with smoke when neighbors are burning garbage," said Horry County resident Jerri Gingrich.

Gringrich said burned cans and plastic pieces are found all around her yard near Bay Road. She says she’s been dealing with the issue since 2008.

"I'm tired of smelling it. I want to smell the flowers, my garden. I planted things so I could enjoy them and you can't," she said.

"Because of the ongoing growth and extreme urbanization of the area and our past with wildfires, etc, it is part of a public safety action, which was also requested by other county councilmen who also represent those areas," said public safety chairman Al Allen. "We felt like it needed to be looked at and there needed to be some control issues in order."

The ban would still allow enclosed fires for food or heat, making it OK to use outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and grills. However, burning trash would be off limits.

"It's bad. I mean you can smell the difference between somebody burning wood in their family fire pit, having marshmallows, versus somebody burning a bag of plastic, furniture, painted wood. I mean, you could tell," said Gringrich. "You move here for the country air and the beach and the smell of salt, you know? Not the smoke."

The county attorney says other areas in the state have ordinances regulating open burning, but Horry County would be unique in the sense that the burn ban here would be an entire zone.

The public safety committee will be tweaking the ban before the next meeting in May. Then, the proposal will go before the full county council.

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