FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2010
FORESTRY COMMISSION KICKS OFF WILDFIRE PREVENTION EFFORT
(Columbia,SC)–-Despite recent rains and the recovery from the state’s years-long drought, the state Forestry Commission is sounding the call for readiness as South Carolina enters its wildfire season. SCFC staff will be going door-to-door distributing informational materials and SCFC law enforcement will be conducting burn site inspections. SC residents are encouraged to help out by reporting any suspicious smoke or burning to 911 or 1-800-777-FIRE (3473). South Carolina’s wildfire season runs in the later part of the winter through early weeks of spring.
Running the “trapline”
Commission employees around the state will be distributing informational materials highlighting wildfire dangers, steps to protect homes and businesses, and the elements of safe yard debris burning (below). “Think before you burn” is their motto. Mike Bozzo, SCFC prevention coordinator said, “It’s our goal to raise awareness that wildfires caused by careless yard debris burning pose a serious threat to homes each year.” “In fact,” Bozzo added, “forty percent of all wildfires in South Carolina are caused by debris burning.”
Here are some safe debris burning tips:
- State Law requires the homeowner/landowner to notify the SCFC. Each county has its own toll-free SCFC notification number.
- A clear firebreak must be in place around the burning site. The is a line established by raking all leaves, sticks, pine needles, etc. down to the soil all the way around the perimeter of the fire site. When your fire burns up to this line, it’s automatically extinguished because all of the fuel has been raked away.
- The bigger the burn site, the wider the fire break should be.
- Equipment (rakes, shovels, gloves, etc.) and an ample water supply must be available to keep the fire under control.
- Gather the vegetation you want to burn (trash and construction debris are illegal to burn). Cover it with a tarp and wait for a rainy day. Once the rain stops, it’s a good time to take off the tarp and light the piled debris.
- Stay with the fire until it is completely safe.
- All burning must comply with DHEC regulations and local ordinances.
Burn site inspections
The Forestry Commission’s law enforcement staff will be conducting burn site inspections. Residents conducting outdoor burns may be visited by these officers. Our personnel will advise them on the safety and legality of their burn and offer tips for making them comply with SCFC standards. Flagrant violations will result in a citation.
The wildfire threat doesn’t end when our public campaign winds down. South Carolinians are urged to be vigilant all year long to help spot and report wildfires. Remember, South Carolina’s wildfire season is late winter through early spring when flammable ground litter is dry, residents are burning yard waste or lighting fires for warmth, and the relative humidity is low.
Who: The South Carolina Forestry Commission
What: WILDFIRE PREVENTION campaign
When: Now through wildfire season (late winter/early spring)
Why: Annual campaign made even more poignant after last year’s historic wildfire in Horry County, SC.
For more information, contact Scott Hawkins at (803) 896-8820.
The SC Forestry Commission’s mission is to protect and develop South Carolina’s forest resource. For every $1.00 invested by SC in the Commission, the industry produces more than $1,300.00 of economic impact.