Some cities and towns in Horry County have had open burning bans in place for years and Myrtle Beach on Tuesday will vote on the second reading of an ordinance that will prohibit burning as well.
County administrator Chris Eldridge said Horry County will issue an automatic outdoor burn ban whenever there is a state red flag fire weather alert. North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach already prohibit open burning at any time.
“North Myrtle Beach has a citywide, year-round ban on open burning,” said spokesman Pat Dowling in an email. “It has been in place since the 2009 Horry County wildfire that impacted Barefoot Resort & Golf.”
In Surfside Beach, interim fire Chief Dan Cimini said the town’s ban has been in place for two or three years. He said residents are allowed to burn within confined areas, such as a fire pit or grill.
“We were having a lot of nuisance fires at the time,” Cimini said of what caused the town to enact the ban. “We’ve got a lot of pine trees and foliage down where that could cause problems. So we were proactive in that.”
The Myrtle Beach City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance March 12 that would ban all open burning in city limits.
“Even prior to the fire in Carolina Forest, the city of Myrtle Beach City Council was considering [an open burning ban],” said Battalion Chief Bruce Arnel. “I don’t foresee any issues getting it approved.”
The ordinance allows the use of patio wood-burning units such as chimineas or patio warmers.
During the March 12 council, Myrtle Beach Fire Chief Alvin Payne said they didn’t want to limit recreational fires.
“We tried to implement a policy that still allows you to use your fire pit,” he said.
Myrtle Beach will pick up yard debris for free if it is bagged and placed at the curb. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes said there were some residents who seemed to prefer to burn their yard waste.
“It’s easier to rake and burn than it is to rake and bag,” he said.
Conway’s code of ordinances does allow open burning “if no undesirable levels of smoke are created,” but does automatically ban burning whenever a red flag alert is in place.
State law does not outlaw debris burning in most unincorporated jurisdictions in the state during a red flag fire weather alert is issued, according to the S.C. Forestry Commission. Nearly half of the wildfires in South Carolina begin as escaped debris burns, according to a forestry commission press release.
The forestry commission issues a red flag alert when weather conditions supporting the spread of fire and outdoor activities are expected to rise – such as during a warm weekend – and allocation of agency resources is strained.
Officials from Loris did not immediately respond to a request for comment.