At least 2,500 residents were evacuated near
Myrtle Beach last week as wildfire invaded their neighborhoods.
Photo: South Carolina Forestry Commission
This newsletter warned in February of the continuing wildfire
risk that exists for many coastal communities ("In Florida,
Wildfire Risk Looms," by Ted Cushman). Last week, fire struck
in South Carolina. Its target: the coastal city of Myrtle
Sparked accidentally by an unauthorized trash fire on Wednesday,
April 22, the blaze quickly grew to 20,000 acres in the pine woods
and brush of coastal South Carolina, destroying at least 70 homes.
By Thursday evening, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
had authorized federal funds to help the state fight the fire. For
official information on the fire, check the South Carolina Forestry
The fire destroyed at least 70 homes.With little or no time to prepare, many homeowners lost
everything. Photo: South Carolina Forestry Commission
For some homeowners forced to flee their homes in the dead of
night, the fire has been a life-changing tragedy. CBS News covers
the story here
Handyman Tori Lewis and his wife Candace were among the
fortunate ones: Their home in the Barefoot Hills Resort in North
Myrtle Beach was spared, while four houses on their street burned
to the ground. Lewis' truck and tools, however, were destroyed.
Fortunately, his handyman work is only part of his livelihood
— Lewis is also a fitness instructor at a gym in the nearby
town of Little River. The McDowell News covers that story here
Flees Myrtle Beach Fire
," by Mike Conley).
Volunteer support has been overwhelming, emergency relief
agencies report. Charity organization warehouses filled up with
goods virtually overnight, and more than 600 rooms have been
pledged for evacuee shelter. The Myrtle Beach Sun-News has that
As of April 28th, fire managers had announced that the fire was
100% contained, having burned over 75,000 acres. However, they
said, it was not "controlled" — because hot spots remain to
be thoroughly extinguished, and in the peaty, organic natural soils
of the coastal ecosystem, fire can smolder underground for months
and flame to life unexpectedly. Officials expect to monitor the
area over an extended period.
And as an editorial in the Charleston Post and Courier notes,
surviving the crisis is not the same as escaping all danger.
Wildfire is a fact of nature, and when homes and communities are
built in the "wildland urban interface" (WUI) zone, they face a
continual hazard from the inevitable occurrence of wildfire. The
Highway 31 WUI fire has been South Carolina's worst in 30 years; it
will not be the state's last. For information on how to live with
the risk of wildfire, go to www.firewise.org