Lexington County, SC (Paul Kirby) A fire that started when an SUV caught fire at the Indian River Golf Course was just one of a number that had firefighters running from call to call Thursday afternoon. High winds buffeted the county bringing down power lines, starting or spreading fires quickly, and in many cases the whipping winds compounded the situations as firefighters dashed back and forth between the blazes.
In the Lexington area, a transformer shorted out on Old Cherokee Road near Sunset Boulevard causing that busy portion of road to be closed for a short while. Firefighters stood by to make sure that sparks from the devices didn’t start the ground underneath or the nearby woods on fire. The Lexington Police Department also had their officers stand-by for the short time it took for the utility company to respond, cut the power that fed that area, and begin their repairs. Businesses and homes in the general vicinity were without electricity while the repairs were being made.
In other areas of the county at about the same time, several house fires were reported, but none of those were serious which was a very good thing not only because people’s homes weren’t seriously damaged, but because as firefighters were being released from those responses to return to their stations, several woods, brush, and grass fires were reported that were of a more serious nature.
One that was burning in the Sandy Run area off Calvary Church Road challenged the firefighters who arrived quickly from the fire station on the same road and were working to put it out. High winds pushed the flames and the county personnel were able to slow it down with their brush equipment until the SC Forestry Commission could get on the scene and get a break plowed all the way around it. One woman who lived nearby and called The Lexington Ledger during the fire said that she lived at the end of a long dirt road, and she was extremely worried as she watched the fire race across a grassy field while the firefighters worked to get ahead of it. “I didn’t know if it was going to come across the woods right on to my house and at one point, I was worried I might need to leave,” she said. She was a bit calmer after she was reassured that the tractor was on the way and more firefighters were arriving to help until it could be encircled with the plow from the SCFC.
In the center of the county, a fire raced toward some mobile homes on Gravedigger Road off Paps Drive in Red Bank, but itwas controlled quickly after enough firefighters arrived on the scene to get a handle on it. Some had to travel a bit further than normal as the closest equipment was already committed at several other calls or fires. That too gave some homeowners and tenants a scare as it sped across open ground pushed by the high winds. The first arriving fire crews reported that it was running across some light fuels but at this fire, access wasn’t quite as difficult, and the crews were able to do a quick job of controlling it once they arrived.
Meanwhile, the icing on the cake seemed to be a small SUV that somehow malfunctioned at just the wrong time, if there ever is a right time, and burned while community and business leaders were enjoying the annual Cayce-West Columbia Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament. The tournament, which was being played at the Indian River Golf Club just outside of South Congaree, was being enjoyed by the many teams when the vehicle began burning, prompting a call to 911. Fire officers enroute reported they could see the column of black smoke from this blaze well before they arrived on scene. The fire was originally reported to be on Winchester Drive off Platt Springs Road, but was actually on one of the cart paths of the course itself. By the time a specially equipped brush unit arrived on this fire, the car had been consumed and the fire had spread to the adjacent woods. Once again, when fire crews finally made access to the fire, our first responders made quick work of this one as well.
This was just a sampling of the calls that the firefighters, EMTs, and law enforcement officers were dealing with during the period of mid to late afternoon yesterday. In several other places, power lines were blown down by the high winds causing firefighters and law enforcement to respond. Then, near the intersection of Calks Ferry Road and Sherwood, a chain-reaction car collision that included four vehicles, several of which had heavy damage with their airbags deployed, had EMS and fire crews on the scene. All of this combined made for a very busy day across the county.
High winds are predicted for Friday as well. Low humidity will make fire danger very high and county officials are urging people not to burn outside. You can find out about all the laws that govern outdoor burning in Lexington County by going to the county’s website and looking HERE for laws on that activity.