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Red Flag Fire Alerts and Red Flag Warnings

​Extreme heat and droughts can trigger public notifications from the SC Forestry Commission as well as the National Weather Service. Both types are known as "red flag" notifications, and the similarity in the names can cause confusion.

SC Forestry Commission's red flag fire alerts
The SC Forestry Commission's alerts indicate that the danger of wildfire outbreaks are increasing, and the Forestry Commission is asking people to avoid outdoor burnings voluntarily. Although the alerts do not themselves function as bans, the alerts can trigger bans locally in places where municipal or county governments have passed ordinances prohibiting burning while an alert is in effect.

Burning bans are possible at the state level, declared either by the governor or by the director of the Forestry Commission. However, both of these types of bans, when active, do not apply inside the boundaries of municipalities (SC Code Sections 48-35-30 and 48-31-30).

Current information on red flag alerts often appears in news media, but the information can also be found on the Forestry Commission's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The Forestry Commission's website gives information on current fire conditions around the state, including an interactive map showing wildfire activity and another map showing controlled burn notifications.

National Weather Service's red flag warnings
The National Weather Service's warnings indicate the presence of warm temperatures, very low humidity and stronger winds — critical conditions for the spread of wildfire. The warnings come with the recommendation from the NWS to take typical precautions such as covering burn barrels and extinguishing all fires properly. The NWS website can indicate whether a warning is in effect for a given location.