8:46 p.m. Monday- South Carolina Forestry Commission crews have gone on the offensive against the Hornet Fire, which is burning about 60 percent contained west of Carolina Forest.

Forestry crews Monday set back fires along the western edge of the fire along a road to deprive the main fire of the fuel it would need to jump the barrier,Russell Hubright said.

Total acreage will increase and additional smoke will be visible due to the back fires.

SCFC Duty OfficerDoug Mills said the left flank had a weak scratch line, though, it held over night.  The fire has escaped on that side and SCFC decided to burn out that area.

Mills said it will increase the acreage of the fire by about 450 acres, leaving acreage at roughly 700.

Firefighters have set up a command post off Highway 90 in order to coordinate crews.

Hawkins said fifteen forestry personnel are working with at least 30-40 firefighters with Horry County Fire Rescue. An aircraft is flying above to provide visual support from above.The exact cause of the fire remains undetermined said Hawkins.

It spread quickly, fueled by extremely dry grass and brush in the area between the undeveloped subdivision and Gardner Lacy Road.

Smoke could be seen billowing into the sky from several miles away.

The massive smoke clouds from fire stirred memories of past fires, including the April 2009 wildfire in Horry County that damaged or destroyed several homes, triggered major evacuations and forced the closure of several highways.

For a brief period Sunday afternoon, Marks and his family watched as crews positioned on the backside of the neighborhood in the event the fire crossed into the subdivision."It's our second time," said Marks. "The last time there was a fire, it burned all the way up to our backyard. Firefighters fought it all night in our backyard. We got evacuated last time," he said.Just in case, Marks and his family were prepared to move out. "We've already packed up a few belongings, irreplaceable photos. Stuff like that," he said.As the fire moved east, residents of other neighborhoods off Gardner Lacy Road, kept a nervous eye on the situation."It's a little intimidating at first to walk home or drive home and see that sort of thing," said Clear Pond resident Chris Fairwell.

Glenmoore residents Dorry Nicoletti and Kelly Spaulding witnessed burning debris falling from the sky in their neighborhood."There was ash, white ash, said Spaulding. "And then the burning pine needles and burning chunks of bark that were like two inches long, just started falling. Kept falling in the pool, all over the yard.""We were trying to find out where, any information we could find on it," said Phipps. "And then we found out it started near Avalon, which is pretty close to here. So now we're all sitting in the backyard pretty worried," he added.(It fell) "all over us, in the hair, on the chest everywhere," added 

Nicoletti

.

Smoky conditions

Meanwhile, Smoke drifting into Georgetown County from forest fires in North Carolina could cause breathing problems, coughing and burning eyes over the next several days."Two years ago when the  This is according to state officials, who sent out urgent advisories  this weekend on the dingy air conditions that are being brought on by a large forest fire that continues to burn in Pender County, N.C.

The smoke from the N.C. fire is also drifting into Berkeley, Charleston, Clarendon, Horry and Marion counties, said Adam Myrick, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

According to the Web site established by Pender County emergency preparedness, officials are advising residents that it is a good idea to avoid breathing smoke from wildfires for an extended period of time. “If you are healthy, you’re usually not at a major risk from short-term exposures to smoke from wildfires. Still, it is a good idea to avoid breathing smoke if you can help it,” the Web site said. Among those that can be affected are children, pregnant women, elderly people, smokers, and people who work or exercise outdoors. Others at risk include people with asthma or other heart and respiratory conditions.”

The smoke has continued to drift into Georgetown County at different times for the past several weeks, and clouds the area during different times of the day and night.

At one point, there was a state of emergencycaused by the fire in 29 eastern North Carolina counties. Fire have burned about 1,370 acres in Bladen County south of Fayetteville, about 21,336 acres in Pender County north of Topsail Island, and about 45,294 acres in Dare County south of Manteo. The fire in Dare County has been burning for about two months.

Ozone warnings

Ozone warnings were also issued by DHEC for several counties in South Carolina.

The air monitor Web site established by DHEC shows that air quality problems have spread throughout most of South Carolina.

Stagnant air created by a low pressure system helps create a problem with ozone.

“Ozone is a pollutant that is created when carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides interact with the sunshine,” DHEC officials said. “The chemical reaction of those pollutants form ozone, which is usually an issue when we have light, calm winds over certain parts of the country.”

Those with breathing problems should also stay indoors when their is problem with ozone levels, or smoke lingering in the area.

Other suggestions are to keep windows and doors closed.

“Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside,” DHEC officials said.

When ozone levels are high, “active children and adults as well as people with respiratory diseases, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion," said Myra Reece, chief of DHEC's Bureau of Air Quality.

Reece said ways residents can help limit the formation of ground-level ozone include carpooling, staying in at lunch and avoiding excessive vehicle idling.

For more information on the air pollution levels in South Carolina, or other issues with air pollution, go to http://www.scdhec.gov/environment/baq/WildfireInformation/.

By Kelly Marshall Fuller

Kfuller@gtowntimes.com

 WBTW Contributed to this report