Horry County Wildfire: 6 months later
Wed, 21 Oct 2009 16:45:00 GMT —
Six months ago this week, one of the worst wildfires in South Carolina history roared through Horry County, destroying more than 70 homes.
The hardest hit community is well on its way to recovery, though it hasn't been easy.
In Barefoot Resort, in North Myrtle Beach, homes are going up, but there are still signs of devastation as well. The memories of that night continue to color the lives of Barefoot residents every day.
Rose Tooker's co-workers are planning a house warming party to be held six months to the day since she lost her home to the wildfire.
"When I found out it was gone, I was like devastated," said resident Rose Tooker.
Back then, her house and two others on Whistling Duck Drive were nothing but rubble.
Now, Tooker and her husband are happy to be in their new home, but parts of their old life can never be replaced.
"My wedding pictures, my kids pictures when they were little, my marriage certificate, my birth certificate, we have to get all new everything. It's hard," Tooker added.
The Tookers bought a fireproof box for valuable possessions and got a lock box at the bank to protect their documents.
But things don't seem so important anymore, and remnants of that awful night six months ago won't go away.
"When I hear the fire engines or I smell smoke, I get nervous," said Tooker.
A few blocks away, Jeff Wicker's new home is still in the early stages of construction. His family will move in next April. Recovering from a fire that destroyed everything they own has been a challenge.
"No doubt, you walk out of your house and you don't have nothing but a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt, that's a humbling feeling," said Barefoot resident Jeff Wicker.
Living in South Carolina, Jeff says you might expect a hurricane. You don't expect to lose your home in a wildfire.
"It's just amazing how your life can change from one day to the next," said Wicker.
Wicker said he never thought twice about rebuilding on the same lot. "We've lived out here a long time and we like it."
Rose Tooker says she and her husband will stay right where they are. "That was my home and that's where I want to be," Tooker asserted.
There are still charred trees and many empty lots. Some neighbors have moved out and will never come back. It'll take longer than six months for life at Barefoot Resort to be back to normal.
The trial for the man accused of burning yard debris that started the wildfire is set to begin next Wednesday.
Information on man charged in connection with wildfire:
Scott Hawkins with the State Forestry Commission says the jury trial for 39-year old Mark Torchi will get underway in Horry County.
South Carolina Forestry officials cited Torchi for not notifying them about outdoor burning he did in the days before the fire.
Forestry says it was never extinguished completely and eventually turned into the wildfire.
Thursday, we'll see how trees and wildlife are recovering from the fire that destroyed 19,000 acres.
Earlier story on carolinalive.com (12:44pm) -
Six months after one of the largest wildfires in South Carolina history, rebuilding is well underway at Barefoot Resort, the North Myrtle Beach development devastated by the fire.
The fire left 70 homes destroyed in the Barefoot community, with nearly 100 more damaged. The first homes to be rebuilt were finished in late July, but dozens more have been completed since then or are undergoing construction.
The city has taken steps aimed at avoiding another destructive wildfire, including new restrictions on outdoor burning and a text alert message system for residents.
Join NewsChannel 15's Joel Allen tonight on NewsChannel 15 at 6 for a complete look at the rebuilding effort.