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Forestry commission issues Red Flag Fire Alert for entire state

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eather conditions contributing to elevated fire danger

By The Staff

COLUMBIA – The S.C. Forestry Commission issued a Red Flag Fire Alert for the entire state early  Friday, Feb. 13.

The notification is aimed at reducing new fire starts in the state. Traditionally, outdoor activities increase on the weekends, which prompted the decision to declare the Red Flag Fire Alert.

The alert, which went into effect at 7 a.m. does not outlaw debris burning in most jurisdictions, but strongly advises that burning be postponed.

A Red Flag Alert cautions that wildfire danger is increasing and that outdoor burning could be difficult to keep in check. 

Weather forecasts through Monday, Feb. 16, for most of South Carolina  are contributing to the  elevated fire danger. 

These conditions include sustained high winds, strong gusts, dry fuels and very low relative humidity.

“The convergence of all these particular weather patterns creates very favorable conditions for wildfires,” said Darryl Jones, commission fire chief and forest protection director. “With this being a long holiday weekend, with many people off work and doing things outside, including things like cookouts and debris burning, the potential for danger is even higher.”

Nearly all wildfires in the Palmetto State begin as debris burns that get out of control.  

While a Red Flag Fire Alert doesn’t prohibit outdoor burning, as long as all other state and local regulations are followed, the forestry commission strongly encourages citizens to voluntarily postpone any such burning until the alert is lifted. 

However, a Red Flag Fire Alert does trigger certain county or local ordinances that restrict outdoor fires. Residents should contact their local fire departments to check whether such restrictions apply in their areas.

The alert will remain in effect until lifted by the Commission, whose fire managers will continuously be monitoring the situation throughout the weekend.

Did you know?

Forestry commission firefighters respond to an average of 2,500 wildfires every year, burning about 17,000 acres annually. An astounding 98 percent of all wildfires are caused by human activities, with debris burning as the most common culprit. Wildfires originating from burning yard debris, construction waste and land-clearing piles, not to mention arson and other illegal types of fires, fall into this cause category.