Fire Chief urging Upstate to “respect” burn ban in all Piedmont Counties

Wildfire burns in Western North Carolina
Wildfire burns in Western North Carolina

EASLEY, S.C. (WSPA-TV) – Burn bans are now in effect for 25 counties in Western North Carolina and all Piedmont counties in Upstate South Carolina.

While crews are away from their posts helping fight the massive wild fires, they say it is imperative the public respect these bans to avoid straining the limited resources left here at home.

Easley Fire Chief Butch Womack showed 7 News, on a smaller scale, what’s going on up in North Carolina and how anything from an exhaust spark to a lit cigarette can cause massive destruction.

“It’s like a domino effect,” said Womack.

With a dry summer, tall dead grass, low humidity and wind, adding a heat source can cause flames to creep fast.

“It will double about every sixty seconds,” said Womack.

Thursday, Womack ignited a controlled burn along Highway 123. In a matter of minutes, a small patch of flame ripped through the grassy median.
He said cigarettes caused multiple fires just like that last week.

“The inner part of that cigarette, when it’s ignited, is about 500 degrees. So, when something is that hot, this cigarette will get in and around some grassy area and get stuck in it and that’s what creates the fire,” he said.

Womack called it careless and said you are now putting yourself and others in danger, should you not listen to the burn ban put in place by the state Forestry Commission for Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Union and York.

As fires spread through Western North Carolina, it means upstate fire crews are being sent north to help.

“We’ve sent people up to Pinnacle Mountain yesterday and today and are trying to assist with that 200 acres they have there,” said Womack.

This also means there are less crews at home to fight fires caused by carelessness or refusal to listen, according to Womack.

“They don’t realize the danger they put us in when they throw cigarettes out the window,” he said.

Bottom line, they are trying to keep resources open for major fires.

Womack said you are also likely noticing the smoke in the air. He said it is from the North Carolina fires. He asked that you only call to report a fire if you see a visible flame, but to be prepared that this smoke may linger for a while.

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