Thousands evacuated because of fire


Gov. Mark Sanford has declared a state of emergency for the South Carolina county where a fire has burned thousands of acres near one of the state’s busiest tourist areas. Sanford on Thursday ordered the state of emergency for Horry County, where he said the blaze has consumed 15,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. Earlier estimates by the South Carolina Forestry Commission said more than 8,000 acres had burned. No injuries have been reported. About 2,500 people have been evacuated, mostly in the Barefoot Landing area near North Myrtle Beach. There are three shelters set up in the area, housing a total of about 250 people. Sanford said the fire is continuing to spread and more people may be affected. A burning ban has been issued by Brunswick County Fire Marshal Scott Garner due to public health concern. This burning ban is being enacted in an effort to reduce any additional smoke that could affect the health and well being of county residents. This burning ban restricts burning within 100 feet of structures in the county. Over the next few days smoke and ash from the Horry County Fire will greatly impact the entire Brunswick County Area. Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has sent units to assist in traffic control. The SABLE helicopter is also assisting. WWAY’s Jenna Caiazzo is covering the story, and will have more on WWAY at 5, 5:30, 6 and 11. (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)