COLUMBIA -- With the approach of Hurricane Florence, the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued a State Forester's Burning Ban for all counties effective at 7 a.m. Sept. 12.
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. While open-fire cooking is not included in the ban, the Forestry Commission strongly advises all citizens to be extremely vigilant until the ban is lifted.
"Many people may wonder why a burning ban is necessary when about half the state is expected to receive so much rain from the hurricane," SCFC Fire Chief Darryl Jones said. "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."
After consultation with Gov. Henry McMaster and other emergency response organizations Tuesday, State Forester Scott Phillips declared the ban to reduce possible wildfire ignitions. The burning ban is primarily intended to ease the strain on firefighting personnel -- from both the Forestry Commission and from local fire departments -- many of whom were dispatched to Pee Dee and coastal regions to assist with evacuation procedures and law enforcement activities, and later, damage assessment and cleanup.
Forecasts over the next few days also call for higher-than-normal wind gusts prior to the arrival or rain, which combined with recent dry conditions create the potential for outdoor fires escaping easily and spreading 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.
The ban will stay in effect until further notice, which will come in the form of an official announcement from the Forestry Commission.