NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WCSC) - Mark Torchi, the man that was the focus of scrutiny and investigation after the horry County wildfires in April, pleaded guilty to two charges in court Wednesday.
Torchi pleaded guilty to charges of allowing a fire to spread to someone else's land and for a failure to notify the SC Forestry Commission about an outdoor debris burn.
According to a press release the forestry service, emphasized that his appearance in court and the two tickets he received related only to the burning of debris in his yard on April 18. "Torchi at not time has been held criminally responsible for the larger wildfire," the release stated.
However, the Forestry Commission said the April 22 wildfire was most likely a result of a rekindling of debris that Torchi had burned four days prior, noting "it is not uncommon for wildfires, especially fires occurring in areas with heavy amounts of fuel, to rekindle at a later time, when relative humidity drops and windspeed increases."
During the investigation into the cause of the wildfire, SCFC officials traced an unrelated burn back to Torchi and found that Horrcy County firefighters had responded on April 18 to put out the fire that had spread onto county land.
According to records kept by the forestry division, Torchi did not notify the SCFC before starting the debris burn and was fined $262.50 for that offense. the fire spread to another person's land, which resulted in a second ticket and fine of $470.
Both fines were the legal maximum.