The Pinnacle Mountain fire has burned nearly 9,000 acres and was 40 percent contained Friday morning, according to the South Carolina Forestry Commission.
But there is a ray of hope in the weather forecast.
Northern Pickens County could get soaked with up to 3 inches of rain starting Monday night, according to the National Weather Service. The forecast calls for the rain to last through Wednesday, with 2 inches or so for lower lying areas in Pickens and Greenville counties.
"That rain would be a Godsend," said Naturalist Dennis Chastain, who lives on Pinnacle Mountain and has consulted with local and state firefighters as the blaze has spread to much of the rest of Table Rock State Park. "Just seeing where they're at now with containment, history would suggest that amount of rain would be the final nail in the fire's coffin."
In the meantime, David Hardy is a long way from home.
The S.C. Forestry Commission firefighter from Adams Run — a little town about 20 miles south of Charleston — arrived in Pickens County Saturday, November 19, as one of the 240 crew members who are fighting to contain the two-week-old wildfire on Pinnacle Mountain.
Although firefighters made progress on the fire Thursday, they will continue with a burnout operation of about 500 acres in an effort to slow the fire down. Firefighters have built a bulldozer line from the North Carolina-South Carolina state line to within about 100 yards of the Saluda River to keep the fire from spreading west.
The fire is nearing containment south of the Saluda River, officials said in an update Friday morning.
The fire costs are estimated to be $2.6 million so far.
Table Rock State Park and its trail system remain closed.
The threat of fire led officials to implement a State of Emergency in Transylvania County, where the North Carolina Forest Service and nine other agencies have begun preparing for the fire by digging and clearing fire breaks.
Kevin Shook, communications director for Transylvania County Emergency Services, said firefighters were notifying residents closest to the fire of the hazard and to be prepared to leave, if necessary.
More than 800 structures — 523 alone in Greenville County — are threatened by the blaze, according to the Forestry Commission, though no evacuation orders have yet been issued.
Hardy, resting in the Wesleyan Camp dining hall after supper Wednesday night, will spend Thanksgiving working in remote, rough terrain, mopping up hot spots and helping to hold containment lines.
“I absolutely will miss my family, but it’s what I do,” Hardy said.
To ease the homesickness, volunteers have taped up thank you cards from students at Hagood and Pickens elementary schools.They paper the walls of the cafeteria, covering nearly every inch of wood paneling with crayon drawings of fire trucks, helicopters and burning mountain ranges.
"Thank you for keeping fires out and helping us when we have wrecks and fires in our houses," one fifth grader wrote. "Thank you for keeping the forest and woods from burning. If we didn't have firefighters, a bunch of us would die because the fires would be raging, so thank you for being here."
Volunteers served a full Thanksgiving dinner to firefighters Thursday night, complete with 27 smoked turkeys and “all kinds of everything you can think of,” said retiree Bob Moore.
Moore has cooked breakfast and dinner for the crews every day this week, getting up before dawn and returning home long after dark.
“We want to make them feel like part of the family for the holidays,” Moore said. “They’re still going to be exhausted, they’re still going to be tired. They’re still going to work all day, but supper will be at six.”
There's even talk of a bluegrass band, for entertainment, Moore added.