Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wildfires hit Myrtle Beach area

Anahad O’Connor in the New York Times: Wildfires swept through a coastal region of South Carolina on Thursday and threatened North Myrtle Beach, destroying more than 40 homes and forcing more than 2,500 people to evacuate, state officials said. Gov. Mark Sanford declared a state of emergency in Horry County, which includes the Myrtle Beach area, and officials of North Myrtle Beach scrambling to get residents to pack up and flee.

…The blaze began along the coast just west of Myrtle Beach around noon on Wednesday and quickly spread, fueled by 25 mile-an-hour winds and extremely low humidity. The fire rapidly expanded overnight, but by early Thursday evening firefighters said they had managed to hold it at bay with the help of Blackhawk helicopters that dropped water and small bulldozers that created fire breaks along the perimeter. But residents were still being urged to evacuate.

“Our public safety department went door to door and we asked everyone to leave,” Mayor Marilyn Hatley of North Myrtle Beach said at a news conference Thursday. “We tried our best to remove everyone as soon as possible.”

Although the blaze has moved quickly along the coast, it stopped just sort of the Intracoastal Waterway separating the mainland from the coastal area, which firefighters were hoping would act as a natural barrier. The cause of the fire was being investigated, and officials said it could take another two or three days to fully contain it.

…Typically, wildfires claim about 35 homes a year in South Carolina, Mr. Hubright said, adding that the wildfire that began on Wednesday claimed at least 40 homes and damaged another 100 in barely 24 hours. “This is the worst fire on record as far as loss of homes,” he added….

A Myrtle Beach sunrise, shot by Moofpocket, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License 

1 comment:

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