Officials: Controlled burn a success, crews still working to con - FOX Carolina 21

Officials: Controlled burn a success, crews still working to contain Pickens Co. wildfire

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A firefighter uses a drip line during backburn operations on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: SC Forestry Commission) A firefighter uses a drip line during backburn operations on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: SC Forestry Commission)
Flames on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: Robbie Wright) Flames on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: Robbie Wright)
A look at the 'ping pong balls' helicopters will drop to ignite the controlled burn (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 17, 2016) A look at the 'ping pong balls' helicopters will drop to ignite the controlled burn (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 17, 2016)
Ping pong ball and a map of the controlled burn area (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 17, 2016) Ping pong ball and a map of the controlled burn area (FOX Carolina/ Nov. 17, 2016)
A firefighter uses a drip torch to set backfires along the firebreak on the east side of the fire. (Source: SC Forestry Commission) A firefighter uses a drip torch to set backfires along the firebreak on the east side of the fire. (Source: SC Forestry Commission)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Forestry officials said a large-scale burnout on the Pinnacle Mountain fire went well on Thursday and no more controlled burns would be needed on Friday.

Firefighters intentionally burned about 1,300 acres using helicopters and combustible "ping pong balls" in an effort to stop the Pinnacle Mountain wildfire burning in Pickens County.

The fire has been burning for more than a week and, in conjunction with the controlled burn acreage, has scorched more than 5,095 acres in the Table Rock State Park area as of Friday morning. Officials with the SC Forestry Commission said the fire was still roughly 35 percent contained.

Pickens County is under a state of emergency to allow county leaders to more quickly shift resources that can help fight the wildfire.

The Pickens County Council voted Wednesday to authorize a state of emergency as crews continue to battle the Pinnacle Mountain wildfire.

A special emergency council meeting was called Wednesday morning and council members voted unanimously to issue the state of emergency.

On Thursday, officials advised People living in 86 homes due to smoke from the controlled burn operations conducted on Thursday.

The evacuations will be suggested but not mandatory for residents on Back Park Road, Country Creek Drive and the west side of South Saluda Road. Evacuees will, according to officials, need to plan to be evacuated for 72 hours.

A shelter opened Thursday at 8 a.m. at East Pickens Baptist Church on Gentry Memorial Highway for families who choose to evacuate.

The Red Cross encourages anyone coming to a shelter to bring the following items for each person:

  • Prescription and emergency medications
  • Extra clothing
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Hygiene supplies
  • Important documents
  • Comfort items

Parents with children should also bring diapers, formula and toys.

District officials announced Thursday that all Pickens County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay Friday due to heave smoke form the burn out. Attendance is optional. Click here for more details.

The SC Forestry Commission said the back burning involved a controlled burn of about 2,000 acres. The hope is that the fire will not be able to cross the back burned areas when high winds arrive later in the week.

On Thursday, crews used helicopters to drop ping pong balls containing chemicals that ignited once they hit the ground. Fire officials said they will drop hundreds of the balls to create the controlled fire and say a containment line is in place around the controlled burn zone, so the controlled blaze should not extend beyond the boundary.

Thursday's burning operation took place on both sides of Table Rock and extend north to the Table Rock Reservoir, south to the Pinnacle Lake area, and east to the Table Rock State Park boundary near High Low Gap.

Additional resources, such as bulldozers, fire trucks and fire crews with hand tools, were used on the wildfire Thursday to keep the fire within established firelines.

The burnout created a tremendous amount of additional smoke in the air in northern Pickens County.  

Officials asked motorists to avoid the area and said driving on Highway 11 can be dangerous to the public due to the smoke.

Pickens County schools were placed on a two-hour delay Friday due to the smoke. Any absences on Friday will also be excused, school district officials said.

On Friday, crews began "mop up" operations after the controlled burn. Firefighters will spend the day putting out embers and using rakes to turn over ground in the area that was burned on Thursday.

Around 170 people from multiple agencies and organizations are working under a joint command between the SC Forestry Commission and Holly Springs Fire Department to fight the fire.

Please call the following number for current conditions on evacuations and the status of the fire: 864-898-5373.

MORE: Wildfires growing in NC, SC

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