Although headline news stories tend to feature wildfire threatening homes in California and Colorado, the wildland-urban interface problem they describe is not exclusively a western phenomenon.
In South Carolina, we fight more than 3,000 wildfires a year — many more than most western states. Approximately 98% of all wildfire causes in South Carolina are human-related. And of these wildfires roughly 40-45% are from debris burning escapes. In 2007, South Carolina lost 141 homes and buildings due to wildfires. This number of lost homes was becoming an alarming number of which the public knew little about and especially as these losses were found primarily in the wildland urban interface. The difference has been that, until relatively recently, rural and urban areas in our state had discrete boundaries. You might see the occasional home nestled in the woods but rarely an entire community. All that has changed; urban sprawl is rampant in South Carolina. Wildfires in these areas are tough to control. As development increases, lives and property will be threatened as never before.
The South Carolina Forestry Commission participates in the National Fire Plan, working in high risk areas throughout the state. SCFC employees work with local fire departments to assess the potential for wildfire damage to communities and individual homes. They write plans based on the assessments and help communities and homeowners decide on steps they can take to lower the risks.
As part of the National Fire Plan effort Forestry Commission personnel also have been conducting workshops to educate community leaders (especially planners, developers, and fire chiefs) and homeowners in high fire risk communities throughout the state.
Your Home in the Line of FIRE! - Precautions you can take to protect your home.
FIREWISE Checklist for Your Home (pdf) A Checklist to Protect Your Home.
FIREWISE Plant List (pdf)- Landscaping for your home.
Develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan - View a sample plan. (pdf)
Grant Application for WUI Fuels Mitigation Projects – for use by Firewise Communities to apply for grant funds to assist in funding fuels mitigation projects.
FIREWISE - (opens in a new window) How Can You Become FIREWISE?
If you, or your community, is interested in learning more about FIREWISE, please contact the Forestry Commission.
Ready, Set, Go! - (opens in a new window)Fire Adapted Communities - (opens in a new window)
Community Assessments and Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs)
In an effort to raise the public’s awareness to this fire danger potential the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) implemented the Firewise program with efforts focused primarily in populated areas historically known to have a high wildfire occurrence. Currently the SCFC conducts wildfire hazard and risk assessments of communities interested in becoming Firewise. From the data collected during these assessments a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) is developed. The objective of this plan is to set clear priorities for wildfire threat mitigation. Included are prioritized recommendations for reducing wildland fuels and structure ignitability in order to better protect the community and its essential infrastructure.
The CWPP will include community centered actions that will:
- educate the citizens about wildfire, its risks, and ways to protect life and property
- focus on collaborative decision making and citizen participation
- develop and implement effective mitigation strategies
The assessment and CWPP development phases will be coordinated with local fire departments to coordinate the firefighting resources within the community.
Over 620 communities have been assessed throughout South Carolina with almost 200 rating at High to Extreme Risk to wildfire. Of these communities about 100 have received Community Wildfire Protection Plans.
To educate the citizens about the assessment findings and to share the Firewise recommendations described in the CWPP, workshops are held for community leaders (Living on the Edge in South Carolina) and for homeowners (How to Have a Firewise Home). Over 2,000 citizens have attended 43 Firewise workshops throughout the state.
For those communities showing interest and taking action to implement their CWPP they can receive national recognition as a Firewise Community/USA by meeting the following criteria:
- Complete an assessment and develop a CWPP
- Establish and maintain an active Firewise Council
- Invest at least $2 pre capita each year in wildfire protection work
- Conduct/sponsor an annual Firewise workday involving community members
- Submit an annual report documenting Firewise activities
South Carolina's Communities Nationally Recognized as Firewise Community/USA
1. Savannah Lakes Village, McCormick County (2004)
2. Keowee Key, Oconee County (2006)
3. Wynward Pointe, Oconee County (2007)
4. Honey Hill, Jasper County (2008)
5. Keowee Harbours, Oconee County (2009)
6. Chickasaw Point, Oconee County (2009)
7. Waterford Pointe, Oconee County (2009)
8. The Farm, Horry County (2010)
9. Pine Creek, Kershaw County (2010)
10. Walkers Woods, Horry County (2010)
11. Hunters Pointe, Darlington County (2010)
12. Waterford, Oconee County (2010)
13. Briarcliffe Acres, Horry County (2010)
14. Prince George, Georgetown County (2012)
15. Avalon, Horry County (2012)
16. Debordieu, Georgetown County (2012)
17. Long Bay Club, Horry County (2013)
18. Heather Lakes, Horry County (2013)
19. Camden Creek at Plantation, Georgetown County (2013)
20. Waterford Plantation, Horry County (2013)
21. Parkland at the Legends, Horry County (2013)
22. Cliffs Valley, Greenville County (2013)
23. Oak Creek Plantation, Spartanburg County (2013)
24. Windsor Green, Horry County (2014)
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