Forestry Commission says drought contributes to elevated risk
Post & Courier
The South Carolina Forestry Commission is cautioning residents about the increase in fire danger statewide and the need to exercise vigilance when burning outdoors.
A prolonged drought, especially pronounced in the Upstate, is contributing to the elevated risk of wildfire that already exists this time of year.
“April is traditionally the height of our wildfire season,” said SCFC Fire Chief Darryl Jones. “But we’ve already seen a dramatic increase in both the number and size of fires around the state this year.”
The SCFC has responded to 1,782 wildfires this fiscal year, compared to last year’s total of 989, an increase of 80 percent. Additionally, wildfires have burned 23,821 acres this fiscal year, a 437 percent increase from last year’s record low of 5,446 acres.
Given this backdrop of increased fire danger, it is especially important that people exercise extreme vigilance when doing outdoor burning.
“We know that more than 80 percent of wildfires are caused by humans and that careless debris burning accounts for half of the fires we respond to,” said Jones. “As we say in all of our fire prevention talks and materials, we want people to ‘Think Before You Burn.'”
That means making notification to the Forestry Commission before burning yard debris or conducting prescribed burns, taking the proper precautions to contain the fire, staying with the fire at all times and drowning the fire until is completely out and cold, the commission said. If the fire does escape, residents should call 911 immediately.
State law requires residents 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.
Find every county’s toll-free notification number https://www.state.sc.us/forest/fyard.htm
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