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Red Flag Fire Alert - LIFTED
June 5, 2019:
The South Carolina Forestry Commission has lifted the statewide Red Flag Fire Alert. Forestry Commission officials still urge vigilance when burning outdoors.
The alert is being lifted as a result of improving weather conditions. It was put into effect Wednesday, May 29 when weather conditions for most of the state included very low relative humidity and elevated drought conditions, which combined with dry fuels on the ground, created potential for outdoor fires to escape easily and spread rapidly.
As a reminder, state law requires anyone planning to burn outdoors to notify the Forestry Commission in advance. Two types of public outdoor burning are permitted in South Carolina:
Residential Yard Debris Burning
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. The Toll Free number for Dorchester County is 1-800-986-3746.
Forestry, Wildlife, and Agricultural Burning
State law requires that you notify the Forestry Commission before burning for forestry, wildlife management or agricultural purposes. This includes burning for wildfire hazard reduction, brush control, endangered species management, wildlife habitat improvement, plant disease control, crop residue removal and preparation of land for planting trees or agricultural crops. All burning for forestry, wildlife and agriculture must comply with SC Smoke Management Guidelines. To make notification, regardless of county, please call 1-800-777-3473.
The purpose of the alert is to discourage people from doing any outdoor burning when weather conditions present an elevated risk of wildfire. Weather forecasts for most of the state over the next three days include very low relative humidity and elevated drought conditions, which combine with dry fuels on the ground to create the potential for outdoor fires escaping easily and spreading rapidly.
SCFC Fire Chief, Darryl Jones said "we're going to see very favorable conditions for wildfire ignitions over the next few days, particularly with the relative humidity values, which will remain low at least until the weekend."
A Red Flag Fire Alert does not prohibit outdoor burning, provided that all other state and local regulations are followed, but the Forestry Commission strongly encourages citizens to voluntarily postpone any such burning until the alert is lifted.
The Forestry Commission also encourages those working on or with rail lines or other heavy equipment near woodlands to be especially vigilant about preventing sparks and other ignitions from the operation of such apparatus. Any spark, even from a discarded cigarette, in such conditions can trigger a wildfire.
The elevated risk of wildfire in these conditions also places additional physical stress on the wildland and structural firefighters who respond to fires, many of whom operate bulldozers to plow containment lines around such fires. Almost half of the Forestry Commission's fleet of bulldozers are enclosed-cab models, which help to protect their operators from flames, smoke, ash, soot, noxious chemicals, and falling trees; more than half, however, are older, open-cab models that offer less protection from these elements.
The Red Flag Fire Alert will remain in effect until lifted by the Commission, whose fire response teams will continuously monitor the situation throughout the weekend.
About the South Carolina Forestry Commission
As the only state agency responsible for wildfire suppression in all unincorporated areas of the state, the South Carolina Forestry Commission protects 12.9 million acres from wildland fire. More than 500 county, municipal and volunteer fire departments operate more than 1,100 fire stations in South Carolina. The Forestry Commission cooperates with these departments to prevent and control structural and wildland fires, employing highly trained firefighters and specialized equipment when fires burn into forested areas that are difficult to reach.