State Forestry Commission expects busy wildfire season

State Forestry Commission expects busy wildfire season
According to the State Forestry Commission, 98% of wildfires in South Carolina are started by human activity like debris burning, woods arson, campfires and careless smoking. Lightning starts about 2% of wildfires. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina Forestry Commission officials are asking South Carolinians to refrain from any outdoor burning until drought conditions improve.

“We want everyone to postpone burning if they can,” Forestry Commission Fire Chief Darryl Jones said. “If you don’t have to burn that today, wait until conditions change or we get some rain.”

Jones said doing that can help stop a wildfire from starting completely.

According to the State Forestry Commission, 98% of wildfires in South Carolina are started by human activity like debris burning, woods arson, campfires, and careless smoking. Lightning starts about 2% of wildfires.

Wildfires in South Carolina
Wildfires in South Carolina (Source: WIS)

"A lot of the wildfires, brush fires, can be avoided,” Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins said. “It's because of people not doing things."

Columbia Fire crews have responded to a few fires in wooded areas of Richland County over the last few days.

The Forestry Commission said in September there was an uptick in wildfires.

"We saw more than double of the amount of fires we normally see,” Jones added. “The amount of acres burned were four times higher than normal."

Jones also said forecasts for the coming months are pretty similar to what we saw ahead of the 2016 wildfire season. In Pickens County, there was a wildfire that burned more than 10,000 acres at Pinnacle Mountain. Officials there said that fire was started by a campfire.

Officials said South Carolinians need to be on high alert.

"We are approaching maybe even exceeding these dry conditions now and the outlook for the rest of the month is not showing any significant rain and reducing that fire danger," Jones said.

The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism said they are asking people staying at state parks to limit campfire burning at all state parks. They are keeping a close eye on state parks in the Upstate.

Officials with the state’s Forestry Commission said there are not at the point where they should call for a Red Flag Fire Alert or a burning ban, but those circumstances could change at any time over the next few weeks if winds intensify and relative humidity drops.

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