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Wildfires keep Lexington County firefighters and forestry commission personnel busy Wednesday

Lexington County, SC - 04/22/2021 (Paul Kirby) – A number of wildfires across the southern, western, and the central portions of Lexington County kept personnel from the fire service and the SC Forestry Commission (SCFC) busy Wednesday afternoon. Fire forecasters with the SCFC had predicted that high winds and low humidity would add to the outdoor fire danger both yesterday and today and preemptively issued a statewide Red Flag Fire Alert for the entire state. This automatically activates the Red Flag clause of Lexington County’s Burn Ordinance and make almost all outside burning illegal here until that warning is lifted.


As winds picked up, fires began to burn out of control in the rural areas of Lexington County. In some case, these were started by powerlines being buffeted in the gusting winds. In other cases, the carelessness of man was evident as the firefighters responded to complaints of a neighbor burning too close to their home, in a barrel, or in some other improper and illegal way. These are all addressed and banned in the Lexington County Burn Ordinance.


A fairly challenging brush fire broke out on Ballpark Road in the Gaston area early on. A tree had blown down across that road and blocked traffic where the fire started nearby. The firefighters began battling the blaze as more pumpers, tankers, and specially equipped brush trucks poured into the area with their crews. It took over an hour to bring this fire under control and at one point, Lexington School District Four was notified to reroute their afternoon busses because of the tree across the road. That was eventually removed by a road crew.

Another fire of note was in the area of Burns Drive and Bachman-Dykes Road outside of Swansea. Firefighters arrived to find the fire moving quickly through the brush and putting up a huge column of smoke.


Tractors from the SCFC arrived on this fire and began plowing a break around the flanks of the fire before cutting off its head. There were what some estimated to be 60 or 70 abandoned salvage cars on the property and eventually, one fire chief reported that 30 of those had been set ablaze. It was thought that by the time the fire completely burned itself out, all would be destroyed. Because the cars were difficult to access, abandoned salvage vehicles, and dangerous to fight, it was decided to let these burn themselves out. This also allowed all the fire equipment form that fire to be released to go to other calls.


The forestry tractors put a double break around the Burns Drive fire before leaving it to smolder for what may be days. The county’s firefighters quickly picked up and reloaded so that they were available for more action.


A helicopter pilot with the SC State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was crossing the county when he spotted a fire burning near Old Charleston and Deer Springs Trail in the Boiling Springs area. Fire equipment and personnel responded quickly and found a fast-moving brush fire growing rapidly. The SCFC was requested on this fire for tractor/plow unit, and they responded to plow breaks around this fire.


Another outside fire in the Springdale area of the county involved a small shed in someone’s yard. That fire was quickly put out by firefighters from Lexington County, and they returned to their station to ready for another call.


Another large brush/wildfire was reported off Lawson Road northwest of Pelion. This took a considerable amount of resources to put out. The Batesburg-Leesville Fire Department responded with their chief and a pumper to this call and along with the cooperation of the SCFC, it was eventually brought under control. Batesburg-Leesville would respond to several wildfires in their own immediate area later in the afternoon.


There were several other small fires across the county during the remainder of the afternoon. Each one was handled by the firefighters who were running from call to call stopping only to pick up hoses and refill with water in between.


Lexington County is well equipped and well trained for these kinds of days. They also have a good relationship with the Forestry Commission and the surrounding departments which benefits everyone. Together, they are able to pull the manpower and resources together to get the job done.


Thursday’s weather is expected to be much like Wednesday’s. Keep in mind that general debris burning outside is still banned in Lexington County because of this. If you burn outside you can be ticketed. If a fire you started gets off your property, you may also face civil penalties.


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