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Length of driveway causes issues for firefighters Sunday afternoon

Boiling Springs, SC (Paul Kirby) – Several outbuildings and an RV that were reported burning shortly after noon on Sunday caused a significant challenge for Lexington County firefighters because of the rural nature and length of the home’s driveway leading to the fire. The blaze, first reported in the 200 block of Pond Branch Road, was putting up a column of thick black smoke before firefighters arrived, but finding the actual fire wasn't quite as easy as just looking at the bottom of that plume. The fire was burning in proximity to a home whose drive was estimated by some callers to be almost a mile long.

Although no one ever took the time to measure the exact length of the drive that led to the home and the fire, the best description of its length may have been given by one of the first arriving firefighters who simply said, “We are way back in the woods!” That was his response when asked how far off the road they were and if another truck could stretch a water supply hose in from Pond Branch Road to get water to trucks operating at the fire itself. The answer to that question was an obvious no.

Because the drive was narrow and long, the first due battalion chief requested a brush truck respond to assist. These smaller, all-wheel drive units can easily maneuver where Lexington County’s larger, standard fire engines can’t. Although these trucks are more maneuverable, they have much smaller water tanks than a standard truck. This requires that tanker trucks go down the drive and supply the brush unit before coming back out to Pond Branch to fill up at a fire hydrant. If you allowed more than a few trucks down the drive at once, you could end up with a traffic jam in the yard of the home that could take some time to untangle delaying the tankers from coming in and out to carry that all important water.

Eventually, even though some firefighters had to hike into the fire from Pond Branch to the fire, enough manpower, equipment, and water arrived to put the fire out. The last personnel were able to leave after everything was picked up, cleaned up, and the property was turned back over to its owner some time later.

This fire demonstrated the issue some face in the more rural areas of Lexington County. While some people enjoy the solitude and privacy that buying a large tract of property affords, placing their homesites in the middle of these tracts with long, unimproved drives can cause problems. It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain these long drives. Also, in the process of gaining this privacy, property owners often give away a certain measure of safety that’s not lost when placing your home much closer to improved roads.

Before deciding where on your land to place your homesite, it may be wise for property owners to ask abut the size of fire trucks or ambulances that Lexington County would dispatch in the event of an emergency at their residence. Then, their drives can be constructed accordingly.

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