CONWAY — In the wake of Saturday’s devastating fire in Carolina Forest, Horry County will now issue an automatic outdoor burn ban whenever there is a state red flag fire alert.
That was the update from county administrator Chris Eldridge at the top of Tuesday’s County Council meeting.
A state red flag was issued Saturday because of high winds and low humidity that made South Carolina more susceptible to brush fires.
Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman, said a burn ban remains in effect as crews continue their cleanup in the Windsor Green development.
The burn ban policy change comes in the wake of the brush fire that quickly spread in Carolina Forest around 5 p.m. Saturday and consumed 26 buildings in the Windsor Green condominium community, displacing 189 residents. There were no fatalities.
Horry County Fire Chief Fred Crosby told council members the first unit arrived on the scene in less than five minutes after the blaze began. Within 20 minutes, he added, all 26 buildings were heavily involved.
“It went fast, it went unbelievably hot,” Crosby said.
Paul Whitten, Horry County public safety director, also gave the council updates on four county employees who were injured in Saturday’s fire.
Three police officers, Whitten said, were treated for smoke inhalation and released.
A county firefighter suffered cardiac arrest at the scene and was caught by paramedics as he fell, Whitten added. He said the firefighter was taken to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center and is expected to make a full recovery.
Councilman Al Allen called Saturday’s fire a “very, very sad thing.” He commended the county employees for their professional behavior while on the scene.
“I’m honored to be a councilman for you. God bless you,” Allen said while seeming to fight back tears.
The fire’s area of origin was narrowed down to a 15-foot-by-15-foot area at the rear of the development about 50 to 60 feet away from a dirt road.
Investigators determined the cause of the fire was from human involvement, although exactly what that involvement is may never be known.
“It could have been a vehicle or piece of equipment, it could have been a discarded cigarette or someone with matches. It could have been anything,” Darryl Jones, director of forest protection with the S.C Forestry Commission, previously said.
Contact BRAD DICKERSON at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_bdickerson.