Pinnacle Mountain wildfire spreads into Greenville Co., statewid - FOX Carolina 21

Pinnacle Mountain wildfire spreads into Greenville Co., statewide burning ban in effect

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Flames on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: Robbie Wright) Flames on Pinnacle Mountain (Courtesy: Robbie Wright)
Scene of Pinnacle Mountain wildfire. (November 20, 2016 FOX Carolina) Scene of Pinnacle Mountain wildfire. (November 20, 2016 FOX Carolina)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Pinnacle Mountain fire, which officials said is the largest wildfire on record in Pickens County, has spread into Greenville County.

The Pinnacle Mountain fire began Wednesday, November 9, and according to officials, was caused by an escaped campfire.

Recent estimates indicate the fire has cost approximately $2.6 million and will continue to climb, officials say.

As of Tuesday evening, it had burned upwards of 6,000 acres and was 37 percent contained. The SC Forestry Commission said this portion of the fire is the most active area and continues to grow at a moderate pace. 

The Forestry Commission said the fire has crossed into the northwestern silver of Greenville Count and up against the western side of Table Rock Reservoir.

Officials with the US Forest Service said flames crossed the Saluda River, which was being used as a stop line, and burned an additional 38 acres in Greenville County before firefighters contained the "finger fire."

On Tuesday, 250 crew members, 7 bulldozers, fire engines, off-road tankers, helicopters, and planes worked to extinguish hot spots, mop up the back-burned areas, patrol fire lines and chainsaw burnt trees on the mountain today.

Two CL-415 amphibious water scooping aircraft were also used to scoop water from Lake Jocassee and dump it onto the fire. Officials said more than 1 million gallons of water had been utilized by Sunday night.

Evacuees in the Back Park Road, Country Creek Drive and South Saluda Road areas were allowed to return home after noon on Monday.

On Tuesday, the Forestry Commission stated the division of 60 hand crew members and three bulldozers assigned to this growing section in constructing lines from Table Rock Reservoir on the east around the fire to Benfield Road on the west where Greenville and Pickens counties meet. 

They stated there's been a reduction in both the number and intensity of hot spots in the original containment region.

The Forestry Commission said one Black Hawk and two Chinook helicopters continue to drop water on hot stops and that more than 250 personnel are working on the fire Tuesday.

The US Forest Service said the Pinnacle Mountain fire was a low intensity fire that was burning mostly dead and downed trees, leaves, debris, and underbrush. The fire will actually be beneficial and open up dense areas that have not seen direct sunlight in years.

“We’re cleaning house with this fire," said Kayli Yardley with the US Forest Service. "It’s actually going to be so much better and so much healthier after this.”

A statewide burning ban was issued on Saturday and remains in effect.

The following national forests and parks had instituted total fire bans, which include campfires and charcoal, due to dry conditions and wildfire potential:

-Sumter National Forest Andrew Pickens District (SC)
-Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests (SC)
-Chattahochee and Oconee National Forests (GA)
-Cherokee National Forest (TN)
-Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA)
-Great Smoky Mountains National Park (NC/TN)

SCFC officials also encourage citizens to refrain from any unnecessary burning, such as campfires and open-fire cooking, at their homes.

The Wesleyan Camp, which has served as a base of operations for firefighters, said Tuesday they are in need of hand warmers for the firefighters on hand crews. Hand crews use hand tools to dig containment lines around the fire. They are also running low on hats and gloves but said hand warmers were needed most.

Hand warmers and other supplied for firefighters can be dropped off at the Holly Springs Fire Department, located at 2235 Moorefield Memorial Highway in Pickens.

To this date, no injuries and no deaths have been reported. Also no residential or major structural losses have occurred, officials say.

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