Smoke lessens; S.C. 31 reopens

S.C. 31 has reopened to traffic after heavy smoke from a smoldering forest fire near the Forestbrook community closed the road for most of morning and contributed to at least two multivehicle wrecks.

The road was closed to traffic between S.C. 544 and U.S. 501 for at least two hours. By 10 a.m., one of three northbound lanes was open, while all southbound lanes were flowing.

Though the highway is open, smoky conditions are expected to linger for a few days, prompting officials to recommend motorists consider other routes.

The woods fire was reported near the Forestbrook community late Thursday afternoon, just north of the Hunter's Ridge development. The blaze charred at least three acres of woods, according to Horry County Fire Rescue spokesman Todd Cartner.

This morning, lingering smoke from that fire caused traffic backups and contributed to at least two wrecks involving multiple vehicles, according to Horry County dispatch.

A hazardous material situation was created when the gas tank of a tractor-trailer ruptured, Cartner said. The truck was involved in a multicar pileup on the highway, also known as the Carolina Bays Parkway.

The leaking fumes from the truck's fuel were carried by the low smoke that drifted in the area, he said. Motorists were advised to keep their windows rolled up until the fumes cleared. The fumes have been contained, Cartner said.

Details on the second wreck weren't immediately available.

Drivers involved in both wrecks were transported to local hospitals. It was unclear how many cars were involved or how many people were injured.

The S.C. Highway Patrol and firefighters from Horry County are working in the area.

More details will be posted as they become available.