Fire Officials Fear Longer Wildfire Season - WSPA.com

Fire Officials Fear Longer Wildfire Season

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Local fire officials say this year's wildfire season is dragging on. They're worried it will be much longer than in years past. Local fire officials say this year's wildfire season is dragging on. They're worried it will be much longer than in years past.
PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. - Local fire officials say this year's wildfire season is dragging on. They're worried it will be much longer than in years past.

A string of brush fires destroyed several homes and hundreds of acres across our area this week.

“It's a real quick burn and before you know it you're in danger,” said Vineyards Fire District Captain, Pierce Womack.

Wednesday, Womack led his team into an inferno of a brush fire that burned more than 100 acres near 6-Mile in Pickens County.

Womack feels the recent weather has created a perfect storm to escalate these blazes quickly.

“It's been one of the busiest [wildfire seasons] we've seen and a lot of that has to do with the past couple of years. The rain that we've had, and a lot more rainfall than normal,” he said.

He said the winter snow and a drier spring may actually prolong the wildfire season, which usually runs from January to mid April.

“We're seeing a lot of undergrowth and vegetation that has grown in the past year, that's died out during the winter and is now increasing the fire load from us and, which is in return, making a quicker fire spread,” said Womack.

 Womack said the low humidity and high winds escalated the burn Wednesday in Greer, spreading it fast, searing the top layer of dry grass and ultimately engulfing homes.

Womack said you can't be too careful in these conditions, even when it rains.

“It'll rain and people think they are ok to burn, but we've had a lot of wind that's dried out that top layer and that's all it takes,” he said.

So, what can you do? Start with the landscaping near your home.

“You need to be careful with the pine needles and mulch,” said Womack.

That’s anything similar to kindling that catches fire easily. He suggested creating a fire break (green grass or dirt) that separates your home from more susceptible vegetation.

When you are planning to burn, you must clear it with your fire department or forestry service. Otherwise, Womack says, if you're caught burning, you could face a citation from the forestry service.

In addition, if you plan to burn, be sure to clear any surrounding area around fires to the bare soil before lighting one. Only burn natural vegetation {no man made products) and always have a water source handy.

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Addie Hampton
Addie is a general assignment reporter covering Greenville, Pickens and Laurens Counties.
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