On Wednesday morning, July 20th, at 0230 hours Midway Fire Rescue was dispatched to a reported commercial structure fire at Huntington Beach State Park at the Nature Center. Central Dispatch received multiple calls of fire and smoke from a large structure. Tower 814, Medic 815 and Engine 811 arrived confirming the report of a working fire, striking a second alarm assignment bringing in mutual aid units. Tower 814 positioned at the front of the building with Engine 811 taking a hydrant and started stretching large lines to the fire.
The crews worked for multiple hours with multiple truck companies flowing water from the ladder trucks and multiple hand lines on the ground for extinguishment. Due to the large volume of water being applied, Georgetown County Water and Sewer Department was contacted to take measures to increase capacity to the water system.
Due to the role of the Nature Center and its proximity to a protected ecosystem, a team of Midway HazMat technicians and park staff were assigned to assess any actions necessary to prevent environmental issues created by the runoff into the marsh. They were assisted by a SC Department of Health and Environmental Control representative and drone surveillance from Georgetown County Emergency Management in determining there was no major impact.
After about three hours, heavy equipment from Georgetown County Public Works was brought in to assist with the operation so crews could access hot spots and work safety around. The crews would stay on scene for multiple hours knocking down hot spots and investigation.
The cause of the fire was determined to be a lighting strike as overnight thunderstorms moved into the area causing lighting strikes in the area.
Mutual aid to the scene and to cover the district and assist on scene was provided by Horry County, Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire Rescue, Surfside Fire Department and Georgetown City Fire Department and Georgetown County Fire/EMS.
Command: Chief 1
Operations: Chief 2 & Battalion 85
Safety: Chief 3
Photos Courtesy of Midway Fire Rescue, Volunteer Nancy Crawford, WMBF News, South Strand News