Wildfire ‘100 percent contained’

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — After burning for nearly a month, the Pinnacle Mountain fire is 100 percent contained, according to officials.

Pickens County Council chair Jennifer Willis delivered the welcome news to the crowd at Monday night’s council meeting.

“We are at 100 percent containment on Table Rock and Pinnacle Mountain, as of today,” she said. “We are very, very grateful. The service members, the firemen, the forestry folks, the state folks, the federal folks — we’ve had people from Utah, Arizona, firefighters from all over the country have come to help us battle this.”

The public’s response has been tremendous, Willis said.

“Our people have been the best,” she said. “We stayed at the Table Rock Wesleyan Camp. We housed the firefighters up there. The camp opened up and they cooked hot meals three times a day for the duration of that project. And that was all donated, from the community, from people in the area, volunteer teams came in and covered.

“We saved in excess of half a million dollars because people in Pickens County do what Pickens County do — that is, we take care of each other and we worry about the rest of it later. I could not be more proud of the response and the way that we handled that.”

12-07 Page 1A.inddAccording to an update from the South Carolina Forestry Commission issued Monday evening, the decision to declare the fire fully contained was made after another heavy shower moved through the area Sunday, the fourth day of significant rainfall in the last week.

Now that the fire is contained, crews will focus on stabilizing firebreaks constructed during the height of the fire’s spread. While the fire may continue to smolder in some places, the rain saturating the forest floor has made the risk of re-ignition negligible.

The fire will be considered controlled once it is determined that firefighting resources are no longer needed at the site, the release said.

The fire has burned more than 10,600 acres. Estimated costs of fighting the fire are $4.8 million, the release said.

Pickens County administrator Gerald Wilson said Pickens County’s share of that cost has not been determined yet.

“Personnel and payroll will probably be the largest costs,” Wilson said.

He estimated costs between $50,000-$75,000.

“That’s a ballpark,” Wilson said. “I wish I could give you a better number. We’re still processing payroll.”

County council has been working on the development of emergency procedures.

“I’d like to point out how ironic it was that we were discussing this on Nov. 14, in general preparation to try and handle this better,” Willis said.

The county is working on developing a memorandum of understanding between municipalities.

“So we all have the pieces in place so that we are prepared,” Willis said.

Despite that agreement not being in place yet, “our staff and our teams did an exemplary job of managing a very difficult situation,” she said.

“Over 10,000 acres burned,” Willis said. “No loss of structure. None. Not even a shelter up on Table Rock. No loss of structure, no loss of life. Over 300 personnel fighting that fire on a daily basis during the worst of it. Over 300 people on the ground fighting that fire. No injuries.”

Every fire department in Pickens County responded to the Pinnacle Mountain fire at some point, Wilson said.

“In times of difficulty, you get the true measure of people,” Willis said. “And the measure of our people is unmeasurable. We are very blessed in this community.”