WIS-TV Eleven O’Clock Report
April 12, 1976
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(Joe Pinner) From the capitol city, South Carolina’s television news leader, WIS-TV presents the 11 o’clock report, with Ed Carter, Dave Rodgers, and Jim Forrest
(Ed Carter) The largest forest fire to hit the palmetto state since officials began keeping records has blackened more than 30,000 acres in Horry County. Firefighters believe they have that blaze under control tonight, but the battle to contain the fire was a hard one, as News Director Joe Petty points out in this report filed earlier today.
(Joe Petty) Smoke billows some 6,000 feet forming an unnatural cloud cover over a 20 square mile area between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Four-lane Highway 501 posed no problem as the strong wind vaulted the flames across the natural concrete firebreak. That highway was closed to all traffic.
A strong wind out of the northeast pushed the fire in a southwesterly direction. For hours, the quickly moving flames, feeding on thick underbrush and pulpwood sized pines, posed a danger to dwellings in the sparsely settled section of Socastee Road. Some families were evacuated. Others remained behind, wetting down their yards and rooftops.
Hot ashes and cinders spewing forth from the fire were the cause of additional fires breaking out.
Fire officials say the blaze has had at least five distinct phases. The fire began Saturday between Highways 501 and 90 and spread northeasterly toward the Intracoastal Waterway. Then the change in wind . . . the fire moved in a southwesterly direction.
Tanker trucks crawled along the natural firebreaks, pouring gallons of water into the tinder dry woods. Some 50 bulldozers plowed strips 300 feet wide around the fire’s perimeter. More than a 1000 volunteers and firemen from the South Carolina Forestry Commission and communities as far away as Orangeburg and Kershaw battled the largest forest fire this state has ever experienced. Some of these men, now bone weary, have been on duty since Saturday afternoon.
The scorched area, now some 20 miles long and six miles wide, takes on the semblance of a gigantic battlefield. Smoke hovers over the entire area like a thick descending London fog. From the ground the brilliant sun turns blood-red through the thick filter of smoke. The fire has now burned over 30,000 acres of timber and swampland, most of that land owned by the International Paper Company. Fire officials now feel as though the North Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand areas are safe from the fire. There have been no reports of any injuries.
Since noontime on Saturday the battle has raged, man and machines versus fire. Highway 501 is covered with smoke. The fire still rages on. For TV-10 News, Joe Petty reporting from Horry County.
(Ed Carter) As we said at the start of this report, firefighters believe they now have the fire under control. They apparently contained the blaze about 9:30 this evening.