County bans all burning

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Jesef Williams
The rash of recent brush fires has forced local fire officials to restrict all outdoor burning in the county.
The Lancaster County Fire Service issued a burning ban late Tuesday morning. The ban will remain in effect “until conditions improve,” said County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder.
This ban, which includes recreational burning, has been issued as a result of continued dry ground conditions, low relative humidity and high winds, according to a fire service press release.  
Firefighters have responded to more than 30 grass or forest fires in the county since Saturday. In these instances, small fires can quickly become uncontrollable, spread rapidly and endanger homes and other structures, the release said.
Fire officials and law enforcement officers will be patrolling and can fine anyone who intentionally starts a fire during this burning ban.  
Blackwelder said it’s important residents not burn anything until conditions improve and the county gets some much-needed rainfall.
“We’re getting hammered pretty bad,” Blackwelder said. “Right now, we need all the help and rain we can get.”
Commission lifts alert
While county officials imposed a burning ban, on Tuesday the S.C. Forestry Commission lifted its Red Flag Alert that was in place for Lancaster County and 13 other counties in the commission’s Pee Dee region.
The forestry commission had issued the alert Friday, which warns that fire danger is increasing and outdoor fires may become difficult to control.
During the alert period, from Friday through Monday, fire commission personnel and other fire officials responded to more than 300 fires statewide.
Although the alert has been lifted, the commission urges everyone to postpone outdoor debris burning until the windy, dry weather ends.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at (803) 283-1152