Hornet Fire escapes containment lines

Map of Hornet Fire from SC Forestry Commission

As of Saturday night 1,250 acres have burned in the Hornet fire.

The wildfire near Carolina Forest burned through containment lines Friday and continues to spread Saturday. Firefighters lit a burnout to fight it, causing a large orange glow in the sky overnight. Plus, a Burning Ban is in effect for three counties in our area and a Red Flag alert is in place for the remainder of the state.

Scott Hawkins with the South Carolina Forestry Commission said the Hornet wildfire burning near Carolina Forest in Horry County has escaped along the right flank.

As of 7:15 pm Saturday, there are no homes threatened.

Forestry has called in the Army National Guard to assist. Hawkins said two Blackhawk helicopters are expected to drop water from a nearby retention pond throughout the weekend.

"That is not something generally you call for until you absolutely need, because once they fire those engines up the meter is ticking it's a very, very expensive way to put out spot-overs," he said.

Hawkins said a back burning operation Friday night went well and ended about 2 a.m. Firefighters were fighting fire with fire. They set fires to burn up the fuel (trees and vegetation) the wildfire could use. We had calls into the NewsChannel 15 newsroom Friday night concerned about a large orange glow in the sky in that area. Hawkins says what people saw was the burnout, and it's normal to see that glow from a back burn.

Increased smoke is expected in the Avalon neighborhood Saturday evening, because of a wind shift, but no major fire is near the homes, Hawkins said.

"I wouldn't couch it in emergency terms because as of right now today we've got no structures threatened or anything like that." Hawkins said. "We just have a very persistent fire and it's spotting over into areas where really it is just better to drop water tactically and tactfully so our tractors can go in and do what they need to do."

Saturday, a SLED helicopter will fly over the area and scope out any hot spots or spot-overs (when the fire jumps a fire break) from above with infrared technology. After that was when Forestry called in the helicopters.

Hawkins says the fire is still uncontained, and there no update on the total number of acreage burned after Friday night's burnout operation.

The Hornet fire began July 3 and has burned at least 1,250 acres. Investigators ruled fireworks as the cause.

Officials say the Hornet fire continues to burn because of it's location, the carolina bays. That's an area with very flammable vegetation that can burn six feet under the ground.

The Forestry Commission says due to extreme heat and increased fire activity in certain areas of South Carolina, a State Forester's Burning Ban is in effect in Horry, Georgetown, and Marion Counties. Outdoor burning is illegal in these three counties.

The rest of the state is under a Red Flag Fire Alert. Outdoor burning should be avoided.

Click here for more information on this alert.