Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Forestry Commission is urging the citizens of South Carolina to be vigilant this year when burning outdoors. A prolonged drought, that is especially pronounced in the upstate, is adding to an already elevated risk of wildfires that starts around this time of the year.
“April is traditionally the height of our wildfire season,” said SCFC Fire Chief Darryl Jones. “But we’ve already seen a dramatic increase in both the number and size of fires around the state this year.”
The increase of wildfires this fiscal year is shocking. While the South Carolina Forestry Commission only responded to a total of 989 fires last fiscal year, they have almost doubled that response this fiscal year responding to 1782 fires to date. Even more alarming is the total acreage burned, bringing last years record low of 5,446 acres up to an unprecedented 23,821 acres this fiscal year. That is a 437 percent increase.
Given the prolonged drought conditions, it is imperative that people exercise extreme vigilance when doing outdoor burning.
“We know that more than 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans and that careless debris burning accounts for half of the fires we respond to,” said Jones. “As we say in all of our fire prevention talks and materials, we want people to ‘Think Before You Burn.”
That means making notification to the Forestry Commission before burning yard debris or conducting prescribed burns, taking the proper precautions to contain the fire, staying with the fire at all times and drowning the fire until is completely out and cold. If the fire does escape, please call 911 immediately.
State law requires citizens to notify the Forestry Commission before burning outdoors. In most cases, the law applies to burning leaves, limbs and branches that people clean up from their yards. The notification law does not apply within town or city limits. Find every county’s toll-free notification number on the SCFC home page or at https://www.state.sc.us/forest/fyard.htm.