COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The South Carolina Forestry Commission is investigating a controlled burn which may have led to a number of smoke complaints in the greater Charleston area. As required by law, Cainhoy Plantation land managers notified the Forestry Commission of their intention to burn seven hundred acres yesterday. SC Forestry Commission personnel were on site today to determine if all rules, regulations, and official Smoke Management Guidelines were followed.
While Cainhoy Plantation's burn area was large, theirs was not the only burn site in Berkeley, Charleston or Dorchester counties. By law, anyone planning to do outdoor debris burning or controlled burning for forestry or agricultural purposes must notify the Forestry Commission. The agency took eleven notifications yesterday from those three counties, six of them from Berkeley. Winds were from the north. In short, smoke noticed in the greater Charleston area yesterday and today may have another origin, or a combination of origins. Any violations of air quality regulations will be handed over to the Department of Health and Environmental Control for possible enforcement.
Controlled burning (also called prescribed fire) is a valuable and critical land management tool. Hazard reduction burns drastically reduce the danger of future wildfires. Wildlife management burns create and enhance ecosystems for all wildlife, especially fire-dependant species. Smoke Management Guidelines, when followed to the letter, balance the numerous benefits of controlled burning with the need to protect air quality in urban and rural areas. Fuel types, fuel moisture, acreage, weather conditions and smoke dispersion factors are all taken into consideration when responsible land managers decide to burn.