Embers from I-20 brush fire continue to burn

Thursday, May 30, 2019
News 12 at 6 O'Clock/NBC at 7

Officials have been working around the clock to contain the Interstate 20 brush fire. (Source: WRDW)

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) – Even as fire raged in Thomson on Wednesday, the brush fire that scorched parts of Interstate 20 on Tuesday continued to smolder.

“As you can imagine, the radio chatter was literally out of control,” Center Fire Department Sgt. Ken Finucan said.

[RELATED: Watch our story about the dramatic scanner chatter during the I-20 fire.

Finucan said he’d never seen a brush fire that big in 10 years at the Center Fire Department. But fires like that one also carry their own set of challenges.

“When you get a brush fire, you're dealing with the elements,” Finucan said. “It starts out ever so small, you know, a one inch circle, a 5 inch circle and from there it grows.”

In this case it grew over 200 acres. But he and his firefighters, along with other fire departments, took on the challenge.

“This was a well-coordinated attack,” Finucan said. “Our hats off to Chief Kneece from Graniteville. He did a wonderful job of commanding control at the fire.”

With the fire 100 percent contained, they're watching for hot spots.

“The hot spots are smoky areas remaining, which are really burning embers putting off that smoke, and if they get hot enough then the fire will reignite,” Finucan said.

For now firefighters are on standby as the South Carolina Forestry Commission monitors the area.

The job is long from over for Andy Johnson and his team.

“We make our fire breaks based on what the weather is, so if the wind is blowing really hard we know our fire break has to be really wide,” Johnson said.

Johnson says the fire breaks are not wide enough so he's called out the tractors. As they work to continue to contain the fire Finucan says they're just a phone call away.

“We're ready to respond when they need us,” Finucan said.

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