Last updated: April 15. 2014 10:25PM - 161 Views
By D. C. Moody dmoody@civitasmedia.com



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PICKENS — Sassafras Mountain in Pickens County has been ablaze and according to the U.S. Forestry Service, the wildfire is contained and under control.


“As of 7:44 am April 14, the fire is contained and under control, although there are some dangers with the wind over the next few days,” said Scott Hawkins, public information director. “There will be someone assigned to watch, but for all intents and purposes, the fire is controlled.”


The blaze, being attributed to a campfire that got out of control April 11, destroyed some 438 acres of forest and vegetative growth on the state’s highest peak before being contained.


“The key to containing a wildfire are firebreaks, lines cut to eliminate fuel for the fire itself,” Hawkins explained. “Because this is a mountainside, we had to do a lot of the firebreaks in hand line crews with just a little help from some dozer work. Fighting a fire on the side of a mountain is entirely different from flat land.”


Some 30 members of the U.S. Forestry Service worked in conjunction with local departments to contain the blaze, fighting the fire in 12-hour to 14-hour shifts.


Hawkins credited the efforts of the USFS and local firefighters for containing the wildfire under difficult circumstances, stating without the “tireless efforts” of firefighters things could have been much worse.


“We’re coming up on the anniversary of the Horry County fire, which is a good example of how bad things could get,” Hawkins said. “That fire consumed 19,000 acres. To keep this one to 438 acres on a mountainside is quite an accomplishment.”


Although the source of the fire has been identified as a campfire, no tickets have been issued at this point. Hawkins didn’t elaborate on any future plans concerning a citation, but did have a few words of reminder for residents of Pickens County.


“It’s still fire season in that part of the state and that needs to be remembered,” he said. “Residents just need to keep that in mind when planning to do any burning at all.”


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