Experts focus more on fire forecasting after historic Horry County blaze

Highway 31 Fire in Horry County in 2009. (Photo: WPDE)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WWAY) — 10 years ago, 4,000 Horry County residents were forced to evacuate due to a historic fire.

Strong winds and low humidity helped this blaze grow into a 19,000 acre monster wildfire on April 22, 2009.

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Officials reported $25 million in property damage and $17 million in agricultural damage.

National Weather Service in Wilmington Meteorologist Steven Pfaff says there is a pattern to these incidents, making critically sensitive land areas like the Carolina Bay near Highway 31 prone to wildfire incidents.

Now, the NWS is supporting emergency management with forecasting briefings that provide forecasts when favorable conditions are likely for any potential weather related event

“Decision support is about anything that weather can impact so that can be a man-made disaster such as the Highway 31 fire,” Pfaff said. “It was residential burn that just got out of control. Weather didn’t start it, but weather played a significant impact on it.”

Pfaff encourages to learn the wildfire history of their community and to be cautious when practicing any controlled burns.