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Friday afternoon wildfire illustrates dangerous conditions Lexington County is facing without rain

Pelion, SC (0529/2021 Paul Kirby) – A fast moving wildfire destroyed several buildings and burned across multiple property line in Lexington County Friday afternoon after a man burning trash outdoors was unable to contain his fire which blew out of control. The fire was reported off Windy Wood Road between the intersection of Scrub Oak Road and Foxtrot Trail northeast of the Pelion town limits.

The man who started the fire said that he was disabled and struggled with health issues but wanted to get outside and burn some trash in a pit he had behind his house. He equipped himself with a rake and said he had containers of water in his garage if he needed it. Within a short time of lighting the debris on fire, winds that were gusting above 20 miles-per-hour spread the fire to some nearby dry grass and he lost all control of the blaze.

The resident retreated to his home to get the water containers and dial 911. By the time he returned to the area where the fire had started, the wind had blown the flames across the first property line and was racing east toward Jerald and Scrub Oak Roads. In a matter of moments, it had consumed an outbuilding on someone else’s property and was running through the groundcover toward others.

Firefighters from Lexington County’s Boling Springs Fire Station were the first to arrive and pulled in at the property of origin. The firefighters deployed their hoses, but the fire had too much forward motion and they were only able to contain a flank as the head was pushed east by high winds through the dry brush. That crew was communicating by radio with the second due trucks, a brush unit out of Fairview and a water tanker out of Pelion, who were rerouted to the head of the fire now off Scrub Oak Road. Before those firefighters could get into position, at least one more outbuilding went up along with other stored items on an adjacent property. A loud explosion rocked the area as something in one of the buildings became heated a burst.

The firefighters from Fairview and Pelion got into place without a moment to spare as the fire was barreling down on a mobile home. If they had been a few seconds slower, it could easily have become a part of the conflagration that seemed to be developing. Firefighters aggressively attacked the fire racing through the woods and stopped its movement long enough for more help to arrive.

More equipment with water arrived from the county’s Sharpe’s Hill Station and chief officers pulled up to direct the operation. Lexington County’s Fire Chief Mark Davis circled around to Jerald Road to make sure it hadn’t spread that far yet.

One large pine tree behind the Scrub Oak Road mobile home was so dry the fire climbed to its crown; a phenomenon rarely seen in this portion of South Carolina. Luckily, that tree was far enough away from others to prevent a substantial crown fire from building.

A tractor/plow unit from the SC Forestry Commission unloaded on the property of origin and quickly began encircling the fire with a break. While this was occurring, the Lexington County firefighters were beginning to mop up the last of the fire.

In Lexington County, the last few months have been exceptionally dry. Friday, winds were gusting above 20-miles-per-hour making any burning outdoors extremely dangerous. Although no Red Flag Alert is currently in place, it is imperative that most outdoor burning be curtailed according to wildfire fire protection officials.

The man who started the fire was in violation of a number of the provisions of Lexington County’s Burning Ordinance. No trash burning is allowed at any time. You can burn debris but that is limited to organics like leaves, limbs, and brush trimmings. Building materials may not be burned in Lexington County either.

The moment the fire got out of control the violations began racking up for the man who started it. Remember, you can be criminally and civilly prosecuted if you start a fire that gets out of control.

Until Lexington County receives a substantial amount of rainfall, it is not advisable to burn outdoors. If conditions do not change soon, expect the state to issue a Red Flag Fire Alert that will automatically prohibit almost all outdoor burning in Lexington County by local ordinance.

To make yourself familiar with Lexington County’s Burn Ordinance follow this link. BURN ORDINANCE


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