Warm, dry weather like we've been having might be beautiful, but could be very dangerous. The weather conditions have experts warning against burning.
The National Weather service issued a warning Monday afternoon. They say it could lead to wildfires. Scott Hawkins with the South Carolina Forestry Commission says they're monitoring the situation closely. In Myrtle Beach, firefighters are reminding that if you don't have a permit for an outdoor burn in city limits, it's against the law.
"Fire does not discriminate it can happen to anyone at anytime," Lt. Christian Sliker with Myrtle Beach Fire says.
We're coming up on the three year anniversary of what's been called the worst fire in the state since 1976. On April 22nd, nearly 20,000 acres burned in Horry County. 76 homes were destroyed. 97 additional homes were damaged.
One of the biggest worries, in addition to dry air and wind, are the fuels like dry brush and pine straw, that made it easy for fires to spread only from a few embers.
"We like to discourage people from using pine straw, especially in dense, wooded areas," Sliker says.
Landscaping at many homes in the area is filled with dry straw because it's plentiful and cheap, but burns fast. Another problem, the experts say, is that the fuel will grow back, ready to burn again.
"Historically, the flammable vegetation found in Carolina Bays and surrounding areas is relatively fast growing and can become a potential wildland fire hazard within a couple of years," says Rocky Tucker, Firewise Field Coordinator-Coastal Region. "Homeowners living in communities adjacent to this type of vegetation should remain vigilant to ensure a woodland fire by their community does not become a catastrophic threat to their neighborhood and homes."
Firewise is a national effort to help homeowners protect their homes, and it's especially useful when living in an area like Horry County.There's even a checklist they provide to protect your home against wildfires.
Briarcliffe Acres, Walkers Woods and the Farm are the only recognized Firewise communities in our area.
"The Firewise program is the best way for any community to take the lead on ensuring its safety and security. Across the nation, many people who live in the Wildland-Urban Interface have taken significant steps to protect their lives and their property by following the principles spelled out in the Firewise program," Hawkins said.
Sliker says Myrtle Beach is also working with neighborhoods, but none in the city limits right now are Firewise.
The two largest fires in state history have both occurred in Horry County, both in April.
On April 10, 1976, a blaze started from an unattended campfire between Conway and Myrtle Beach. The fire became so intense that burning material was thrown as much as a mile in advance of the flaming front. More than 100 firefighters worked 5 days before containing this 30,000 acre fire.
The second worst being the April 22, 2009 Horry County fire. Forestry says extreme fire behavior including low humidity, high winds, and flammable vegetation led to the evacuation of approximately 4,400 people. Shifting winds and abnormal nighttime weather conditions made the fire very unpredictable and dangerous.