FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2007
SOUTH CAROLINA FORESTRY COMMISSION OBSERVES ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR IN AUGUST WILDFIRES
(Columbia, SC) -- August has been an unusually fiery month according to experts at the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the state agency charged with fighting wildland fires throughout the state.
Agency Fire Chief Paul Watts says wildfire behavior has been more aggressive in recent weeks, due in part to the drought conditions that persist across the Palmetto State.
Watts says, “Our fire numbers are up, we’re having more than usual, they’re behaving more aggressively and are larger in acreage. We usually don’t see flame heights extending beyond tree tops in August.”
In the first half of the month, 215 fires were reported to the SCFC. A look at the last ten years of Augusts shows an average of 160.
South Carolina’s wildfire season is fire season is normally in late winter/early spring, but the drought has extended the season this year. Today, Watts said, “Our relative humidity and winds don’t take us to Red Flag Alert status yet, but we’re getting close.”
Agency officials urge South Carolinians to take precautions outdoors with regards to burning. The drought index is about 700 and the scale only goes to 800. The index is one of the tools we use to estimate wildfire risk with regards to fuel moisture. These extreme conditions have left ground fuels dry and ripe for fire.
This unusual pattern takes its toll on the Commission personnel who battle these fires too. Hot weather makes fighting abnormally large and numerous fires that much more dangerous.
For more information, contact Scott Hawkins (803) 896-8820