Myrtle Beach Promoters: Fires Won't Affect Rallies

Publish Date: 
May 6, 2009
By Holly J. Wagner

Fires that swept through Horry County, S.C. are controlled and rally hosts say Harley Week and the Atlantic Beach Bikefest rallies are on. “The fire hasn’t affected anything for bike week,” says Mike Shank, owner of rally organizer Festival Promotions. He adds that because of the city of Myrtle Beach’s new biker ordinances, “We’re anxious to see what happens. There’s still a lot of misinformation out there and we have to get this one behind us.”

The county closed its emergency operations center May 1, although the South Carolina Highway Patrol is still closing some sections of roads overnight due to smoke. Horry County’s Emergency Management Division was reporting the fire 85 percent contained, though fire officials said it could take weeks to be sure every spark is gone.

The fire charred 20,500 acres, destroyed 76 homes and damaged 96 more. The damage is estimated at $15.4 million, according to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division. Damage to homes was primarily at Barefoot Resort, which is behind Barefoot Landing.

Lisa Bourcier, spokeswoman for Horry County, says the highway closures are the only change in Horry County that might affect the May rallies.

Sections of highways 31, 22 and 90 are being closed from 8:30 p.m. to 10 a.m. If expected rain sets in this week, it could help bring the fires under control and eliminate the need for further overnight closures, she said.

But rally proponents say they’re going full speed ahead.

The fire damage is apparent in some areas, while other places are unscathed.

“They will get to see the fire, they will get to see the burns,” says Ashley White, who runs the Horry County Fairgrounds, the last stop on the North End Run. “If anything, it makes it more interesting to me. It’s a scenic highway so there are no signs or business frontage. It’s an amazing thing to me to see some of the trees have burned but the tops are still living. Some areas are black but then 50 feet away it’s green.”

The community is preparing for the rallies and summer traffic. Myrtle Beach and Horry County Police have announced they will be holding traffic checkpoints throughout the month. Dates and locations have not been announced. As in years past, authorities say they will authorize overtime and have extra officers on loan from other agencies. (Continued)