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Low humidity and fireworks has brush fires burning across Lexington County

Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) – The cold weather we are experiencing has brought with it low relative humidity that is a dangerous mix with fireworks that residents are using to ring in the new year. According to the National Weather Service at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the current relative humidity at 9:15 p.m. Sunday was 38 percent. It was approximately 33 degrees. Keep in mind that in warmer weather, we often experience sustained humidity levels that are well over 95 percent in Lexington County.

Lexington County and Irmo Fire District units are running brush fires all across the county. The county’s specialty brush units are literally running from fire to fire, only stopping at fire hydrants to refill their tanks with water. Fire engines are also out, but some fires are in areas that they are having difficulty accessing with full size units.

One of the most notable fires was on Woodcoat Drive off Hwy 321 South just northeast of Gaston. This fire was freely burning in the brush pushed by the wind when firefighters first arrived. The fire is now under control. Currently, the fire service is on the scene of a woods fire on Mack Street in Gaston as well as Red Bank, South Congaree, and many other locations.

The fires are not isolated to the more rural areas of the county. There have been fires in the Chapin area and fire units are enroute to a brush fire on Sunset Blvd. in the town of Lexington. Irmo has run several fires in very urban portions of their response area also.

A battalion level chief officer put the county into storm mode in response to the sheer volume of fires being reported. This changes the way that fires are dispatched and the response to any automatic alarms that come in. You normally see this when thunderstorms roll through the county dramatically increasing calls in a short time.

Right now, it is not advisable to ignite fireworks that shoot into the air. If you do not have a clear soil area for these type of shells and rockets to land, they can very easily start a fire. If you are shooting fireworks, you need to have buckets of water, loose soil, and hand tools ready in case a fire starts. Always dial 911 and summon the fire service, or have someone assigned to do that for you, before you try and extinguish the fire yourself.

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