Forestry Commission urging extreme caution burning outdoo

COLUMBIA—Amid a dramatic uptick in wildfire ignitions over the last 24 hours, the South Carolina Forestry Commission is asking the public to exercise the utmost vigilance when conducting outdoor burns of any kind.

SCFC’s three regional dispatch centers recorded 32 wildfires Thursday, most of which occurred in the central and eastern parts of the state, along both sides of the I-95 corridor throughout the coastal plain. Agency officials cite widespread low relative humidities – below 20% across most of the state – as likely contributing to the increase in wildfire activity.

“While we haven’t had a lot of wind, which usually contributes greatly to fast growing wildfires`, much of the state is just in a long drying pattern. The lower-than-forecasted RH values today didn’t help,” said SCFC Fire Chief Darryl Jones. “When fuels are really dry, the heat released from outdoor burning can exacerbate the conditions that lead to fires escaping easily and spreading rapidly.”

South Carolina is in the peak of what is traditionally known as “wildfire season” throughout most of the southeastern United States. Jones added that the majority of the Palmetto State’s largest and most destructive wildfires have happened during March and April.

“Prescribed burning is at its height now too, particularly for agricultural fields, timber stands and wildlife management,” he continued. “And the good warm weather we’ve been having is prompting many more people to get outside and burn yard debris as well. It is definitely not a time to be complacent or inattentive when burning outdoors.”