The Highway 31 fire, as it is now known, started Wednesday afternoon and lit up the sky. As fire fighters worked to contain the blaze more than 4,000 residents were evacuated from their homes. For the next two days officials continued their fight against the flames.
“You have to realize that even though this has been one major fire, we have put out and almost extinguished completely a 20,000-acre fire in 3 days and that is phenomenal,” said Todd Cartner of the Horry County Fire and Rescue.
Once most of the smoke cleared, residents were allowed back in to see what was left of their homes. While South Carolina officials are calling this the second worst fire in Horry County’s history, those affected by the flames say its value is unmatched. Russell Hubright of the South Carolina Forestry Commission said, “There were houses involved so that made this fire a lot more complex and a lot more costly in terms of property damage and lives effected.”
In total, the fire destroyed more than 75 homes and damaged more than 100 others. “Everyone is excited to go home and we feel terrible for those who don’t have anyone who don’t have homes to go home to. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them,” said Holly Welch of the South Carolina Forestry Commission.
By Saturday, the South Carolina Forestry Commission had 85 percent of the fire contained. Crews were still on the fire lines to make sure there are no more flare ups. It could be months before the fire is completely controlled. Residents are hoping to go back to their lives as usual before that. “Hopefully my neighbors, at least a couple of them, are going to rebuild and we’re looking forward to having them back as neighbors,” said evacuee Sherlene Pinnix.
South Carolina Forestry officials have issued two tickets to a Conway man. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.