Columbia, SC (WLTX) - While you may be eager to burn the last of the leaves winter left behind, it only takes a second for fire to get out of hand.
Forty percent of wildfires in South Carolina are caused by debris burners.
"Fire by its very nature is unpredictable," said Doug Wood with the South Carolina Forestry Commission.
Described as man's oldest foe, fire is relentless, remorseless, and ruthless.
Wood says the orange monster is let off its leash hundreds of times a day in our state.
"There are fires every day in this state, they're wild fires, and again, most of them are escaped debris burns," Wood said.
The key to keeping the beast in check starts with staging your arena.
"We've got to clear around our area with a rake of some sort," said Jonathan Calore is the assistant law enforcement chief with the forestry commission.
Calore says this barrier, or fire break, is good but not enough.
"I'll wet down my surroundings, give me an added extra layer for my fire break," Calore said.
That's when the battle begins.
"As you can see it doesn't take but a second for that pile to start burning quickly," Calore said, after setting the debris on fire.
Calore says fires are more likely to get out of control when air is windy or dry. If it does, you'll need a sidekick.
"You're not a firefighter, you're not a fire professional," Calore said, "so best thing to do is go ahead and dial 911."
But if you do decide to go it alone, Calore says it's best to take 'em from behind.
"Don't get out in front of where your fire is going," Calore said. "Walk through that area that's already burned and wet the fire from the back side."
And lastly, choose your armor well.
"Wear outside work boots, and if you can, wear cotton materials," Wood said. "That's certainly better than polyester blends because when those materials catch fire they will simply melt to your skin."
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Danger Statement - where weather conditions are cause for burning hazards - until 7PM Friday evening.