Pinnacle Mountain wildfire burnout ‘successful’ say officials

Table Rock from Highway 11 after crews started a burnout operation on Thursday, Nov. 17. (WSPA)
Table Rock from Highway 11 after crews started a burnout operation on Thursday, Nov. 17. (WSPA)
Pinnacle Mountain Fire
Pinnacle Mountain Fire

PICKENS CO. S.C. (WSPA) – Officials evacuated 86 homes while fire crews mounted a large-scale operation to slow the spread of a 5,000-acre wildfire.

Residents living north of Highway 11 from Back Park Road to South Saluda Road and north to Table Rock Reservoir were notified by phone to evacuate. They were told to plan to be away from their homes for 72 hours.

East Pickens Baptist Church at 2244 Gentry Memorial Highway in Pickens is providing shelter to those impacted by the wildfire.

Pickens County emergency management officials said those expected winds, with gusts up to 35 mph, will prevent their call for evacuation from being lifted Saturday.

Residents east of the fire were evacuated Thursday because of the heavy smoke from the burnout, and officials are hopeful that residents can return to their homes Sunday if crews continue to report progress on the firelines.

The Pinnacle Mountain Fire started from a campfire on the Pinnacle Mountain Trail on Nov. 9, officials say.

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The state Forestry Commission started a “burnout” of the mountain on Thursday to help remove fuel from the wildfire before windy weather expected to arrive on Saturday.  Forestry officials say the burnout went well and covered 1,400 acres.

Incident command staff say about 90 percent of the area inside the firebreaks – about 5,100 acres – has been burned out. Crews also continue to patrol the lines and work as far as 50 feet inside to put out hot spots.

A helicopter-mounted ignition system lit both sides of Table Rock mid-day Thursday, fire managers said in a statement. Ground forces conducted burning operations next to established firebreaks on the east side of the fire.

The Pinnacle Mountain Fire is about 5,095 acres and 35 percent contained as of Friday.

Crews will patrol firelines and use water and tools to cool embers at the edge of the fire to help prevent the fire from spreading before the expected arrival of high winds on Saturday.

Heavier smoke is expected in the area and forestry leaders encouraged people who don’t live in the area to stay away and indoors from the smoke.

“This has been a statewide event and the coordination between fire, law enforcement and forestry has been incredible. Most South Carolina counties have at least one representative here helping and we are greatly appreciative of the partnership. We will continue our efforts until the conditions improve,” said Pierce Womack with Pickens County Emergency Management.

For information on the current status of the fire and evacuations, call 864-898-5373.

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