Weather helps firefighters quell blazes near Georgetown County line

A wildfire that began near the Georgetown-Charleston county line, which scorched 2,600 acres, is 95 percent contained as firefighting conditions improve, authorities said Friday.

S.C. Forestry Commission spokesman Scott Hawkins said the agency expects the fire, which began Wednesday, to be completely contained by today.

U.S. 17 through the area was closed overnight because of smoke but reopened on Friday.

Blazes erupted across the dry, windswept Carolinas this week, but conditions improved as the humidity increased, winds slowed and skies became overcast. Rain is expected this weekend.

At Camp Lejeune, N.C., crews managed Friday to start containing a wildfire that had consumed more than 14 square miles, almost a week after the blaze initially began during weapons tests on a firing range, officials said.

Marine Col. Daniel Lecce, the base's commanding officer, said Friday the fire is still active but no longer advancing. Firefighters hope to have the blaze extinguished in the next few days.

"We are very aggressively fighting this fire," Lecce said.

Lecce said lower temperatures and higher humidity have helped firefighters get an upper hand. The increased control came just a day after authorities ordered evacuations as the blaze moved toward homes, filling residential areas with thick smoke and belching burned-out embers over the area.

S.C. state forester Gene Kodama estimated timber losses from the Georgetown-Charleston county fire burning could reach $2 million depending on how much of the damaged trees can be marketed and how much is lost to insect infestation in the next few months.

On Wednesday, forestry firefighters joined Horry and Brunswick County, N.C., firefighters to battle a 30-acre fire near the stateline Wednesday. That fire was brought under control by Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, three Georgia wildfires had burned more than 53 square miles, forcing temporary evacuations Thursday night of more than 100 houses, a nursing home and a prison.