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SC Forestry Commission lifts statewide Red Flag Alert, caution still urged if burning outdoors

Columbia, SC 03/30/2022 (Paul Kirby) – The South Carolina Forestry Commission lifted the statewide Red Flag Fire Alert, effective at 6 a.m. Wednesday, March 30. In Lexington County, this means the ban on outdoor burning is also lifted in unincorporated areas of Lexington County. Many incorporated towns and cities still ban all outdoor burning within their limits and anyone who plans to burn outdoors should check local regulations before doing so.


Lexington County has its own Outdoor Burning Ordinance. In that Ordinance, the rules that apply to outdoor burning in unincorporated Lexington County are clearly spelled out. Violating this Ordinance can come with criminal penalties. You can see a full copy of that Ordinance below.

ARTICLE_IV.___OUTDOOR_BURNING
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The Forestry Commission is discontinuing the alert because the dangerous conditions have largely abated. Not only have wind speeds dropped since the weekend, but widespread cloud cover and an associated rise in air moisture will prevent fuels on the ground from becoming increasingly dry, returning most of the state to conditions that are safer and more conducive to outdoor burning. The likelihood of rain statewide Thursday also will lessen the fire danger for the next few days.

The unsafe conditions that prompted the agency’s strong cautionary statement against outdoor burning resulted in a busy weekend (and Monday) for Forestry Commission firefighters. Even with the Red Flag Fire Alert in place, agency personnel responded to 95 wildfires that unofficially burned more than 1,200 acres in just three days. Of those fires, 32 have been contained within firebreaks, but still require daily monitoring. The largest that occurred in Lexington County was more than 28 acres and happened near Gilbert. It burned outbuildings and other personal property before it was brought under control.


The alert was issued Saturday, March 26 to discourage people from burning outdoors while weather conditions presented an elevated risk of wildfire. Forecasts for most of the state this past weekend included much-stronger-than-normal winds, including very high gusts, along with low relative humidity, creating the potential for outdoor fires to escape easily and spread rapidly.


Although the Forestry Commission is lifting its Red Flag Fire Alert, agency officials still urge extreme vigilance when burning outdoors. State law requires anyone planning to burn outdoors (outside of city limits) to notify the Forestry Commission in advance and take the proper precautions. Those include clearing a firebreak around the burn area, having water and/or tools on standby to keep the fire contained and never leaving a fire unattended.



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