South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

March 11, 2005


(Columbia, SC) - Camden area residents still remember the windy March day when wildfire paid a visit to Red Fox Road. Before the day was over, eight homes were in ruins and forests were scorched in a swath extending across 2,000 acres.

It was March 12, 1985. South Carolina was struggling with one of the worst extended wildfire seasons on record. And at 8:45 a.m., a wind-blown tree branch ripped into a power line along Kershaw Countys Highway 97, sparking what eventually became known as the Red Fox Road Fire.

Quick response by Forestry Commission bulldozers and the Camden City Fire Department stopped the blaze at about 12 acres. Soon thereafter, the bulldozers were called to another fire, leaving the fire department to monitor the burned area alone.

At 12:26 p.m., high winds whipped embers from the smoldering area into adjacent woodland, and the Red Fox Road Fire started its historic run. Winds were now 20-25 miles per hour; with most local Forestry Commission bulldozers working another blaze near Cassatt, the fire quickly raged out of control.

By early afternoon, winds were estimated as high as 40 miles per hour. Equipment and firefighters began arriving from adjacent counties just as the flames swept down on homes along Red Fox Road.

It was a frantic, desperate fight . . . men and machines against a roaring, mindless wall of fire. Within minutes, the battle for Red Fox Road was over and the fire had moved on. Eight homes were reduced to smoking rubble; others survived, thanks to a combination of good firefighting and good luck.

The Red Fox Road Fire was finally controlled on the morning of March 13. It remains the worst wildland-urban interface fire in South Carolina history.


For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, 803-896-8820.

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