Local firefighters battling brush and woods fires as authorities warn against outdoor burning

Fire fighters with Pine Ridge Fire-Rescue put out the last few hotspots after a fire in Ridgeville was controlled off Fish Rd. (Paul Zoeller/postandcourier.com)

After having issued a statewide Red Flag Fire Weather Alert, South Carolina forestry officials have been battling blazes all day around the state.

At 4:37 p.m. forestry officials were working a brush fire near Fish Road near Lebanon Road in Berkeley County, according to South Carolina Forestry Commission spokesman Scott Hawkins. The fire was contained at 5:39 p.m., which means it’s no longer spreading, but still burning, Hawkins said. Two units from the forestry commission were are on the ground and one plane was also offering visual support earlier, Hawkins said. The blaze burned about 80 acres of forest area, according to the commission’s website.

Around 3 p.m. a brush fire burned about five acres near 855 Zion Road in Cross, Local fire departments were also on the scene. Two forestry units were on the site, Hawkins said. The fire began at approximately 2 p.m. and it was contained at 3:02 p.m., according to Hawkins. It was caused by debris burning, according to the forestry commission website.

Also, firefighters were battling another blaze in Moncks Corner this afternoon. At around 2:30 p.m., the Whitesville Fire Department along with assisting fire departments were on the scene of a fire on South Live Oak Drive.

It’s unclear where or how the fire began. Fire department officials could not be reached by phone. A shed may have caught fire, according to a law enforcement source. It’s also unclear if the fire is out yet.

A brush fire burned in Charleston County in McClellanville near Highway 17 and Bellfield Road. The 2.2-acre fire was caused by debris burning, according to the state agency website.

Also, Summerville Fire Department put out a small brush fire in the median near Target on North Main Street at around 3:30 p.m. Fire officials believe that one was started with a discarded cigarette butt.

Forecasters have been warning that this weekend’s dry, warm and windy weather will increase the danger of wildfires in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission sent an email announcing that a statewide Red Flag Fire Weather Alert was in effect as of 12 a.m. this morning.

At around 3 p.m. the S.C. Forestry Commission reported 36 fires around the state.

The commission also notified its employees that they should be prepared for the possibility of extra fires starting today.

The National Weather Service says highs should be in the upper 70s in much of the state, with winds gusting to 30 mph and humidity below 30 percent. The most dangerous conditions for fires to spread will be along the coast.

Forestry officials ask anyone thinking about burning yard debris to wait until after it rains again.

A Red Flag Fire Weather Alert does not outlaw debris burning in most unincorporated jurisdictions, but it is an advisory which strongly encourages South Carolinians to postpone burning. Nearly half of all wildfires in our state begin as escaped debris burns.

Some local ordinances do ban burning during a Forestry Commission Red Flag Alert.

The Forestry Commission issues Red Flags when weather conditions support the spread of fire, outdoor activities are expected to rise, and allocation of agency resources is strained.

Earlier this week, Williamsburg County suffered a nearly 400-acre wildfire which required the use of seven Forestry Commission tractor plow fire suppression units.

The agency’s capacity to respond is sorely tested when weather conditions favorable to wildfires persist on a statewide level, according to a news release from the Forestry Commission.