State, local agencies discuss wildfire safety, precautions

OCONEE, S.C. (WSPA) – Wildfires can devastate thousands of acres of land, and even become deadly. We’ve seen that in recent weeks here in the Carolinas and over in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. South Carolina state and local officials met at the Oconee State Park Thursday to give some vital advice on how to prepare for those fires.

This was about helping homeowners understand the steps they can take to protect their properties from fires. Upstate “Firewise” field coordinator Bill Wiley of the South Carolina Forestry Commission gave a presentation, where he showed the history of wildfires in the Palmetto state.

“We are living in a landscape that has always had fire and now people are moving into areas where fire has historically been and they’re not aware that fires used to go through there,” he said.

Representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and local fire department personnel were on hand. Wiley discussed topics about from how to prepare structures and landscapes to resist wildfire, and the best ways to evacuate when threatened by a wildfire.

Wiley says tips – like cleaning roofs and gutters – are simple, but can have a big impact when embers are flying towards your house.

“Anywhere debris can blow in embers fire can also blow in like what happened in Gatlinburg with embers flying a mile or more ahead of the fire,” he said. “Flammable mulge next to structures or next to homes like pine straw is not a good thing.”

He says the SC Forestry Commission is also trying to stay ahead of future fires with plans for controlled burns here in the Upstate.

If you’d like to see a similar meeting in your community or to get more information, head to the Forestry Commission website at trees.sc.gov.

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