South Carolina’s biggest wildfire in more than three decades—a blaze six miles wide—has destroyed dozens of homes and threatened some of the area’s world-famous golf courses at the height of the spring tourist season.
As of April 24, the blaze has scorched about 19,600 acres, or about 31 square miles. According to the Associated Press, there were no reports of injuries, and authorities said they had not determined what sparked the flames.
Horry County officials said in a statement that the fire was 40 percent contained as of Friday, April 24. Holly Welch, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Forestry Commission, said crews had successfully used plows to hold off a portion of the blaze, but noted that the situation could worsen if winds were to start blowing again in an unexpected direction.
Much of the damage was concentrated at Barefoot Resort, a sprawling complex of houses, condominiums and golf courses separated from the main route through Myrtle Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway.
Officials said the blaze appeared to die out at Barefoot Resort, only to move parallel to the waterway and away from the area’s major golf courses. Authorities were still worried, though, that the fire could jump the channel—a canal as wide as a football field that separates the city’s main drag from the homes of retirees and people who help to run the area’s golf courses, hotels and other businesses.
The fires have also claimed one golf course at the well-known Grande Dunes resort, although according to Horry County Fire Rescue spokesman Todd Cartner, the clubhouse and other structures on the property were not immediately threatened.
Just a few miles south along the coast, however, people were unaffected. Golfers kept their tee times and tourists spread out on the beaches. Hotel managers of properties not in the direct line of the fire were offering vouchers to evacuees while saying they could not even smell the smoke.
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