Statewide burning ban issued until further notice


COLUMBIA - With the approach of Hurricane Florence, the South Carolina Forestry Commission will issue a State Forester's Burning Ban for all counties, effective 7 a.m. today.

A State Forester's Burning Ban prohibits all outdoor burning, including yard debris burning, campfires and burning for forestry, wildlife or agricultural purposes in unincorporated areas, states a news release from the agency.

While open-fire cooking is not included in the ban, the commission strongly advises all citizens to be extremely vigilant until the ban - which will stay in effect until an official announcement from the forestry commission states otherwise - is lifted.

Though most of the state is anticipated to receive a lot of rain later this week because of Hurricane Florence, SCFC Fire Chief Darryl Jones said the ban is to reduce the possibility of fire and other emergencies.

"We're issuing the ban not solely because of elevated fire danger but rather because so many firefighting and emergency personnel and resources are committed to hurricane-related response," he said.

Many of the firefighting personnel from the forestry commission and local fire departments have been dispatched to Pee Dee and coastal regions to assist with evacuation procedures and law enforcement activities, and later, damage assessment and cleanup, states the release.

Forecasts for the next few days also predict higher-than-normal wind gusts prior to the arrival of rain, which combined with recent dry conditions could make it possible for outdoor fires to easily escape and spread rapidly.

In addition to performing its normal wildfire suppression operations, the forestry commission has deployed more than 30 firefighting, law enforcement and incident management personnel to support the state's coordinated emergency response to the arrival of Hurricane Florence.