Horry County under fire


Low humidity and high winds make wildfires an increasing risk across the Grand Strand this spring.   


A recent Loris fire that was initially 10 acres grew to be about 40 times that size on March 26. Horry County Fire Rescue spokesperson Tony Casey said that crews were called to the area of Watts Road at around 3 p.m. for a 10-acre fire. 


The fire grew into a blaze covering nearly 400 acres (about twice the total floor space of the Pentagon) of land, but it was contained eventually. Officials cited windy conditions as the main reason the fire was able to grow that large.  


All of Horry County is feeling the effects of the Loris blaze because smoke from the fire spread a wide distance, including reaching as far as Tabor City.  


Firefighters at the scene of the Loris fire dug trenches to contain the fire and stop its spread.  


The South Carolina Forestry Commission has also been closely monitoring the scene since the spread of the wildfire. No injuries or structural damage were reported. A burn ban remains in places throughout Horry County in unincorporated areas.  


According to Adam Coates, an assistant professor of forest fire ecology and management at Virgina Tech University, said wildfires are different from prescribed fires, which firefighters use to maintain growth and protect wildlife that depend on forest habitats.  


“Wildfires may consume some standing vegetation and a lot of forest floor materials, such as leaves and needles,” Coates said. “If all that material is consumed in one fire, there is a greater chance of long-term ecological effects.”