COLUMBIA, SC (WECT) - Dozens of homes have been destroyed and 100 face damage in a fire that now covers more than 15,000 acres of land in South Carolina.
SC Gov. Mark Sanford has issued a state of emergency for Horry County as the wildfire continues to burn.
The South Carolina National Guard responded to the Horry County wildfire in North Myrtle Beach, following a request from the Emergency Management Division to assist Forestry Service personnel.
The state Emergency Operations Center has been activated, with assets dispatched to fight the fire including a National Guard helicopter and other personnel.
State and local officials have already evacuated 2,500 people from their homes, and may evacuate more as the fire continues to spread.
Three shelters to accommodate those leaving their homes have been opened, and those shelters are currently housing approximately 250 people.
North Myrtle Beach Aquatics & Fitness Center (Red Cross) 1100 Second Ave. South
House of Blues (Red Cross) 4640 Highway 17
Barefoot Church (Red Cross) 701 Main St.
Thirsty Turtle (Pet Friendly) 9668 N. Kings Hwy.
Citizens are reminded that shelters cannot accept pets. There is limited space for evacuees' pets at either the Murrells Inlet Veterinary Hospital at 843-651-3355 or the Saint Frances Animal Hospital at 843-249-1988
"This has already proved to be a devastating event for Horry County, and it isn't over," said Gov. Sanford. "This fire is continuing to spread, and it's incredibly important that people near the affected area pay close attention to emergency announcements and news outlets about developments with this disaster. We are continuing to work actively with the state Emergency Management Division and the Forestry Commission in determining what state assets are needed, and this action we've taken will allow our administration to deploy whatever is necessary on this front. In the meantime, I'd ask that every South Carolinian join Jenny, the boys and me in offering thoughts and prayers to those affected, and for every South Carolinian to think about ways in which they can help."
A number of roads are closed due to the fires and smoke in the area:
Hwy 31 is closed from the Grissom Parkway to Hwy 9
Hwy 22 is closed from Hwy 90 into Myrtle Beach
Hwy 17 and Hwy 90 are both open however citizens are advised to be wary of thick smoke
Emergency management has set up an official information line for those affected by the fire and concerned citizens at 843-915-5150. The line will provide evacuation status information and will let residents know when evacuation orders have been lifted.