Fire crews keep busy during SC red flag fire alert - FOX Carolina 21

Fire crews keep busy during SC red flag fire alert

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Smokes rises from the scene of a wildfire near Mills River, NC (File/FOX Carolina) Smokes rises from the scene of a wildfire near Mills River, NC (File/FOX Carolina)
COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A red flag fire alert was issued for the entire state of South Carolina by forestry officials Friday.

The South Carolina Forestry Commission said the warning that urges postponing outdoor burning goes into effect at midnight.

Officials said weather conditions on Saturday - 30 mph wind gusts, low humidity and warm temperatures - will elevate the fire danger level in the state. They said the conditions will support the starting and spread of wildfires.

Nearly half of all forest fires begin while someone is burning debris, officials said.

Officials said the alert does not ban outdoor burning in most unincorporated areas, but some local ordinances may do so.

Oconee County Fire Chief Charlie King said since Friday morning, firefighters in his area have responded to 11 brush fires, two of which were significant.

In Union County on Saturday, 11 volunteer fire departments and Union's city fire department participated in a smoke house training exercise at the South Side Fire Department facility in Union. During the training, several departments had to leave to fight out-of-control brush fires in the county.

Lee Brannon of the Union County Fire Association said all departments are seeing low numbers of volunteers, causing their response crews in some cases to be cut in half. He said fighting brush fires can be difficult, and having more hands on deck would help keep the communities safe.

"I know lot of people may say 'Well we don't get paid for this,' but you know you're volunteering for your community, and the community is dependent on you," said Brannon.

Those interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter should contact their local fire department for information about training.  

Across the state, fires posed problems for crews and ousted many from their homes after a massive fires swept across parts of Carolina Forest on Saturday.

FOX Carolina chief meteorologist Kendra Kent has forecast a dry, warm weekend in the Upstate, followed by rain on Monday.

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