RIDGELAND, Sc. (WSAV) – Late winter and early spring are prime time for wildfires in the South, and the number one cause is people burning debris in their yard.
In Ridgeland, firefighters responded to a call Wednesday afternoon; a brush fire started off Washboard Lane just feet from a home.
“It’s really a lack of education. Sometimes, people underestimate how fast fire can spread,” said Henry Criss with the Ridgeland Fire Dept., “They think, you know, I’ve got a pile of leaves in my yard, I’m gonna burn it and it won’t be a big deal…
But on a day like this with dry conditions, “the brown grass that’s dried out and died typically burns faster and can get out of control a lot easier than green vegetation,” Criss said.
That mixed with one strong gust of wind, “it can really get up and spread, you know, like wildfire.”
The National Weather Service issued a warning Wednesday for South Carolina and Georgia.
“We have noticed not just an uptick in the calls, but the severity of them,” Criss said, “We’ve run into several of them just in the last week that damaged some property or… had a great potential to get into some structures.”
Criss says burning yard debris is normal in a rural community. “That’s how we get rid of things. But, a lot of times folks are making these decisions to go ahead and burn, without consulting the fire department,” he said.
The current advisory for fire danger is until 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, but the dry season in general is not safe for outdoor burning. Fire departments suggest that you call and ask them about conditions before burning anything in your yard.
Firefighters also say never leave a controlled burn unattended and always have a water source.