FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2008
NO “SUMMER VACATION” FROM FORESTRY COMMISSION FIREFIGHTING
(Columbia,SC)–Although South Carolina’s traditional wildfire season (late winter/early spring) is over, dangerous conditions persist and Forestry Commission firefighters are poised for continued wildfire activity despite rising fuel costs and budget cuts. The agency is encouraging all SC residents to remember the potential for a wildfire to occur. Here are a few examples of summer’s affects on SCFC operations:
- Recent rains have done little to lessen the affects of the Southeast’s on-going drought conditions. This weather results in dry ground fuels which burn quickly and intensely. A fire right now is likely to be bigger and harder to control. Common summer activities often lead to wildfire with burns peaking statistically on Saturday afternoons. Illegal trash burns, vegetative debris burns, lighting strikes, children playing with matches, and carelessly tossed cigarettes have a greater than usual chance of leading to fire now. Data attached shows fires originating from lighting in particular are up this month.
- Hot weather takes its toll on our personnel and equipment. Heat related health risks and fatigue factor into our employees’ ability to respond to fires. The heavy equipment used can overheat more readily in hot and dusty weather.
- A high number of fires this time of year can have public health impacts. This is the traditional ozone season, when air is more stagnant. If we have a lot of fire on a bad ozone day, the smoke can compound the problem.
- Woods arson cases (like many crimes) peak in hot weather. SCFC law enforcement agents are pursuing arson arrests aggressively.
- Summer holidays are busy for SCFC personnel. Please take all precautions with fireworks, campfires and BBQs.
- Agriculture burns should be handled with particular care. “Backburning” is encouraged for crews currently burning wheat fields. This method places the head of the flames into the wind as opposed to with the wind, which makes the fire harder to control.
The SC Forestry Commission is also fulfilling requests for firefighters and equipment from other states. Texas, North Carolina and Florida are each being assisted by the South Carolina Forestry Commission.
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 about $1,000.00 of economic impact.
For more information, contact Scott Hawkins, 803-896-8820