Controlled burning workshop (copy)

Bystanders gaze at the Horry County wildfire of 2009 as it raged near Grande Dunes.

Horry County leaders might change the rules on open burning in unincorporated areas.

A proposal to ban open burning within 50 feet of any structure or property line was discussed this week during a county public safety committee meeting.

“Not only do we want to protect your structure, we want to protect your neighbor’s property,” Horry County Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Thomas Loeper said.

Loeper chairs an interagency group that includes Horry County’s fire rescue and planning and zoning departments. It also includes the South Carolina Forestry Commission.

The group is tasked with looking at current rules and developing proposals to help protect citizens.

The suggestion presented to county leaders is an alternative to the current regulation approved in October that bans burning in major residential developments.

County councilman Harold Worley has proposed banning open burning in the entire Little River Neck area.

Brought up Tuesday were community members’ concerns that, despite October’s rule change, a wildfire could threaten lives and property in the area.

Loeper added the 50-foot buffer around all structures is consistent with the International Fire Code and National Fire Protection Association recommendations.

He said the proposal would effectively ban burning for all lots that are onethird of an acre or less, which would fulfill the desire to limit burning in major, dense developments.

It should also reduce the risk of structure fires caused by open burning in the county. Loeper pointed out not all large fires that affect major developments originate in those developments.

The 2009 Barefoot inferno that burned more than 19,000 acres and destroyed 76 homes originated at a location off S.C. 90.

The Horry County Council will vote on the proposal at a later date.

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