Series of brush fires concern fire officials

Burton fire officials are issuing a stern warning to area residents about the dangers and legalities of burning yard debris in the unincorporated areas of Beaufort County. 

From March 22-24, the Burton Fire District, assisted by the MCAS Fire Department, extinguished five brush fires in close proximity to residential homes, with one fire destroying a large shed and another damaging a home. All five fires are believed to have been caused by unattended yard debris fires or illegal trash fires that spread out of control.

On March 22, three brush fires in the rear of residential homes, caused by unattended burning or illegal burning of trash, occurred back to back from 5:15 p.m. to 5:41 p.m. in the Gray’s Hill and Seabrook area of Beaufort County. None of the homes were damaged. 

On March 23, Burton and MCAS Beaufort firefighters extinguished a brush fire that spread to a large shed and endangered a nearby home on Simmons Family Road. The fire started when the resident was burning leaves and went inside believing he had extinguished the fire. It took four fire trucks more than 90 minutes and 3,500 gallons of water to fully extinguish the shed fire, trash fire, and ensuing brush fire. The nearby residence was not damaged. 

On March 24, firefighters were dispatched to a house fire on Capehart Circle just after 4:30 p.m. The initial report was that the family was evacuating the residence. Firefighters arrived on scene to find a brush fire that had extended to a mobile home but were able to extinguish it before flames got inside. Damages were limited to the skirting of the mobile home. 

Burton fire officials warn residents living in unincorporated areas of Beaufort County about the dangers of not directly monitoring or fully extinguishing their yard debris fires and not having a water source nearby as mandated by county ordinance. This ordinance also prohibits the burning of trash. Residents wishing to burn on their property in unincorporated areas of Beaufort County are also required by state law to call the South Carolina Forestry Commission at 1-800-895-7062. 

Fire officials warn that embers can smolder beneath wet leaves and debris for days, and all it takes is a gust of wind to reignite the fire. Fire officials state that when extinguishing a burn pile to soak and continuously rake the pile to ensure complete extinguishment. 

For more information residents can visit the South Carolina Forestry Commission’s website at www.state.sc.us/forest/fire.htm and the Beaufort County Code of Ordinances at bcgov.net. Residents living in incorporated towns or the City of Beaufort should check with their respective fire departments for local burning regulations. 

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