After Budget Cuts, Is SC Ready for Wildfires? - WSPA.com

After Budget Cuts, Is SC Ready for Wildfires?

Posted: Updated:
This area behind the state Forestry Commission was part of a controlled burn by the agency to reduce wildfire fuel. This area behind the state Forestry Commission was part of a controlled burn by the agency to reduce wildfire fuel.
COLUMBIA, S.C. -

The South Carolina Forestry Commission on Monday morning lifted the Red Flag wildfire warning for the state, which it had issued because of dry conditions and high winds. But that warning, along with an Horry County fire that destroyed more than 100 homes and started as a brush fire, focus attention on an agency that saw its budget cut in half between 2008 and 2011.

"If we have two or three major events going at one time with large quantities of units, it'll definitely put a major strain on what we have," says Jonathan Calore, the SC Forestry Commission's assistant law enforcement chief and a forestry firefighter.

When he started at the agency in the late 1990s, it had more than 500 employees. Today, it has 294.

"We're doing the best we can do," he says. "That's the best I can say. We're going to respond to the fires as we get to them. If we get to a point where we're tapped out or we see we're getting tapped, then there are other sources that we can use."

The state is part of the Southeastern Fire Compact, an agreement between Southeastern states to help each other when necessary. If South Carolina didn't have enough resources to fight wildfires, it could ask for help from Georgia, North Carolina, or any other Southeastern state.

The commission is getting some relief from state lawmakers. Last year, they passed a bill that took 2.25 percent of the annual insurance premium tax and put that money toward buying new firefighting equipment for the Forestry Commission. That bought 10 new enclosed tractors for the firefighters who cut fire breaks to stop wildfires.

The commission is expecting to be able to buy 9 more units this year. That would mean it would have 19 new units out of 160, about one-third of which are at least 17 years old and have passed their expected lifespan, Calore says.

 

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • How Do You Know If A Felon Is Living Next To You?

    How Do You Know If A Felon Is Living Next To You?

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:48:31 GMT
    A prison ministry called Jumpstart said ex-cons who are a part of their program are better equipped to rejoin society and re-offend less often. Neighbors say they don’t feel safe. We find out how often they're put behind bars once again. 
    A prison ministry called Jumpstart said ex-cons who are a part of their program are better equipped to rejoin society and re-offend less often. Neighbors say they don’t feel safe. We find out how often they're put behind bars once again. 
  • Upstate Officer Arrests Affect Safety

    Upstate Officer Arrests Affect Safety

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:32 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:32:37 GMT
    Iva Police Chief Arrested, Charged With CDV and Assault and BatteryIva Police Chief Arrested, Charged With CDV and Assault and Battery
    The Town of Iva is operating without its police chief after his weekend arrest. It's the latest instance of officers finding themselves on the other side of the law.
    The Town of Iva is operating without its police chief after his weekend arrest. It's the latest instance of officers finding themselves on the other side of the law.
  • Lt. Gov Candidates Address SC Senior Needs, Lack of Resources

    Lt. Gov Candidates Address SC Senior Needs, Lack of Resources

    Monday, July 28 2014 6:22 PM EDT2014-07-28 22:22:13 GMT
    Candidates for Lieutenant Governor are releasing plans to address South Carolina’s senior needs.Candidates for Lieutenant Governor are releasing plans to address South Carolina’s senior needs.
    From overcrowded nursing home to a lack of transportation—candidates for Lieutenant Governor are releasing plans to address South Carolina’s senior needs.
    From overcrowded nursing home to a lack of transportation—candidates for Lieutenant Governor are releasing plans to address South Carolina’s senior needs.

Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.