1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

North Myrtle Beach

In 2009, North Myrtle Beach, located along the coast of South Carolina, suffered a wildfire, known as the Highway 31 Fire, which destroyed 75 homes in the community of Barefoot. “Pine straw mulch, which is prevalent in the area, proved to be a mitigating factor in the fire’s ability to spread and do damage to the homes,” noted Mike Davis, battalion chief for North Myrtle Beach. 

North Myrtle Beach FW Day“Multiple homes had pine straw that was on fire around their homes,” explained Mr. Davis. “The burning mulch allowed the fire to get up under the vinyl siding of homes and into the attic.”

He added, “When Barefoot residents learned about this, nearly all of the pine straw that was being used in landscaping was replaced with Firewise-recommended landscaping materials.”

Soon after the fire, the Barefoot community became a Firewise community. Its residents applied for and received a clearing grant, which was used to remove underbrush and thin out pockets of heavily wooded and brush-laden areas within the community. 

Barefoot wasn't the only local community to take note. The nearby Town of Briarcliff, made up of mostly million-dollar homes in a heavily wooded area located directly on the coast, which contracts with the City of North Myrtle Beach for its fire protection. The Town of Briarcliff also became a Firewise community and, each year, it holds a weekend event in which community members go throughout the community clearing the underbrush and educating new residents about the dangers of wild¬land fires. 

“Since facing the reality of wildfire in 2009, our community in Barefoot has worked hard to employ Firewise practices to help protect our homes,” said Mr. Davis. “But there are still many people living in South Carolina who don’t believe we can have large, destructive wildfires.” 

He continued, “For our Wildfire Community Preparedness Day activity, we initially tried to reach out to our neighbors in Tidewater, a nearby community that also is located in a heavily wooded area. We thought it would be helpful to educate them about the Firewise pro¬gram and its role in wildland safety. Our goal was to share the dangers of wildland fires while informing them about what they can do in the event of a large wildland fire.” 

Tidewater is a private community located in the northern part of North Myrtle Beach. It is situated on a peninsula, which creates a unique problem: there is only one road leading into and out of the community. “And once you are in the community, they only have the main guard gate as their means of exit,” noted Mr. Davis. 

North Myrtle Beach FW DayWhen those plans didn't pan out, we pushed back the community preparedness event to Saturday, June 7, and instead held a community-wide wildfire awareness day at North Myrtle Beach’s main fire station. “We invited a number of neighboring communities, including folks from Tidewater. We wanted to get across to the public that even though we live in the south and along the coast, we still experience wildfires,” said Mr. Davis. 

More than 75 people turned out to gather information on wildland preparedness. Grown-ups visited South Carolina Forestry’s Firewise trailer, while children received certificates and Smokey the Bear books. 

“I still plan to visit Tidewater, to meet with its residents and discuss the issue surrounding their one way in and one way out, since this could prove a real problem for them in the event of fire,” said Mr. Davis. “If they have the information, they can begin to consider how to address the problem to ensure the safety of their residents.”