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      Brush fire burning off Hwy 548

      Fire burns along Highway 548/Ryan Naquin

      Horry County and SC Forestry firefighters are on the scene of a brush fire in the Meadowlark Circle area of Highway 548 between Conway and Aynor.

      Mike Ney with the SC Forestry Commission says the fire has now burned about 75 to 85 acres. He says the fire is now 80 to 90 percent contained. They are still working on fighting the fire and will do so throughout the night. Thursday, they will work to reinforce the containment lines.

      We spoke with Horry County Fire Battalion Chief Brian Vanernem around 5:30 Thursday morning. He says they have a line around the fire now, and while it's contained is still not considered "controlled."

      Vanernem expects firefighters to be on the scene throughout Thursday and into Friday. At daylight they'll be better able to reassess the fire, keeping an eye on changes in wind speed and direction.

      Only a small crew remains on scene, with a shift change expected at 8 a.m. Thursday morning.

      Evacuations were ordered Wednesday evening for residents living in the Sandy Acres community on Hwy 548, impacting about 5 homes. A Red Cross shelter opened at Conway High School for those residents. At last check no one had taken advantage of the shelter.

      F irefighters were called to the fire around 3 p.m. Wednesday. It grew quickly with windy and dry conditions creating spot fires. That's when embers from the main fire are blown to an area that's not burning and start another fire there.

      As of 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, the fire was no longer spreading.

      Firefighters were called in from additional departments like Murrells Inlet Garden City and Rains in Marion County for support. Ney says they have about seven bulldozers and tractors on scene working to fight the fire. They also had a plane up over the fire helping direct crews on the ground.

      Ney said the fire had been smoldering in the area for about a week and Wednesday it jumped the lines they had created.

      Ney says once the fire is contained and controlled, Horry County and Forestry Commission firefighters will monitor the area for two or three more days to make sure it doesn't flare up again.

      The smoke could be seen for miles. It even showed up on NewsChannel 15s First Alert LIVE Doppler 15000.

      Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski says the winds will slowly diminish to around 5 mph and shift back to the southwest overnight, so the smoke is moving north across Hwy 501 and will be seen in the communities of Knotty Branch, Spring Hill, and Cool Springs.

      There's a second wildfire in Horry County about two miles from the Highway 548 fire. It's on Highway 501 and Hardwick Road. It burned about 20 acres.

      Smoke from those fires could be a problem for motorists in the morning in that area, so be careful on the roads.

      We will continue to post updates as we get them.