FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 9, 2009
WEEKEND WILDFIRES TAKE THEIR TOLL IN SOUTH CAROLINA
(Columbia,SC)–-While news media focus on the wildfires in Australia, fire made for a busy weekend for the South Carolina Forestry Commission too. From Friday to Sunday the agency’s personnel responded to a total of 126 fires. The results were 500 acres of burned forestland statewide, an arson arrest of a man in Sumter, and charges against a Hopkins woman whose illegal trash burn wiped out four vacant mobile homes:
- Sammie Moore, 66, of Lynchburg faces one count of willfully burning lands of another (arson) for a fire set in Sumter County in the vicinity of Yarborough Rd. SCFC crews managed to contain the fire before it grew beyond an acre in size. Mr. Moore is under arrest.
- Samantha Brown, 24, was handed a summons and will appear in court for the highly publicized fire in Hopkins Sunday which destroyed four mobile homes, a shed, a boat and six vehicles. Ms. Brown is specifically charged with allowing fire to spread to lands of another, but more charges are possible. She did not notify the SC Forestry Commission about her planned debris burn which is required by law. Also, Ms. Brown was burning household garbage which is a violation of the law.
- Near Greenville, a woman burning downhill from her mobile home saw her burn escape and rush uphill destroying her home.
- A debris burn in Berkley County escaped and destroyed a John Deere tractor and a concession stand. Charges are possible in this case as the investigation continues.
- Fire from an abandoned camp site in Spartanburg County near Woodruff appears to have flared up a day later and burned a vacant mobile home.
- Various other causes were reported by SCFC personnel statewide including, fireworks, exhaust systems on vehicles, and children playing with fire.
Damage estimates from all fires statewide reach $100,000.00 this past weekend alone. This figure represents the loss of property itself and does not reflect the losses of timber value. As South Carolina heads into its fire season (late winter and early spring), the agency hopes cases like these will reinforce the message: Think Before You Burn. Fifty-nine percent of the wildfires this weekend began as debris burns which got out of control. A total of six mobile homes were lost.
These fires, whether accidental, criminal, or both, threaten the number one manufacturing industry in South Carolina—forestry. South Carolina’s forestland, both public and private, is sustained and managed to produce revenue. When our state’s forests are burned, it impacts our economic well being. Woods arson in particular is a felony. The South Carolina Forestry Commission is dedicated to wildfire suppression. Arson and escaped debris fires will be prosecuted in South Carolina.
Editors, News Directors: For more information, call Scott Hawkins at (803) 896-8820.
ALL SUBJECTS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED INNOCENT UNLESS PROVEN OTHERWISE IN A COURT OF LAW.
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 $1,000.00 of economic impact.