(We will update this article througout the day on Thursday as developments warrant.)
UPDATE AT 9:06 p.m. ET April 23
The fire, named the Highway 31 fire, has now burned 19,000 acres and is 40 percent contained; 69 homes have been destroyed in North Myrtle Beach and 100 others have been damaged by the fire.
A spokesman for the South Carolina Forestry Commission said a person was issued a ticket in connection with the fire on Woodlawn Drive that could have led to the large fire. The person was issued two tickets for failure to notify the Forestry Commission of an active fire and for allowing the fire to spread to the land of another. The two tickets total $732. The person’s fire was a routine debris burn that began over the weekend and was put out the same day, but rekindled on Wednesday.
More than 2,500 residents have been forced to evacuate.
UPDATE at 5:08 p.m. ET April 23
The Sun News is reporting that the fire is expected to intensify and spread more inland, but it is now 75 percent contained.
UPDATE at 2:28 p.m. ET, April 23
The Sun News is reporting that 69 homes have been destroyed in North Myrtle Beach.
UPDATE at 12:32 a.m. ET, April 23
Horry County spokesman Kelly Brosky reports the fires in Horry County have burned 15,000 acres, destroyed 40 homes, and damaged 100 others.
UPDATE at 11:09 a.m. ET, April 23
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has declared a state of emergency for the 15,000 acres of land that he said has burned throughout Horry County.
8:43 a.m. ET, April 23
About 2,500 people had to evacuate from a busy tourist area of South Carolina as a wildfire spread Wednesday night and early Thursday morning into North Myrtle Beach, SC. Officials with North Myrtle Beach and the South Carolina Forestry Commission said between 30 and 50 homes and 7,000 to 8,000 acres have burned.
The strong winds and low humidity moderated somewhat overnight but the weather conditions are expected to worsen around noon on Thursday. The minimum relative humidity on Thursday will be 38 percent at 3:00 p.m. with northwest winds at 5 to 10 mph.
The fire spread had slowed Wednesday night but flared up suddenly and jumped highway 22 around 2 a.m. Thursday morning when it burned into the Barefoot area where 30-50 homes burned. Most of the damage occurred in the Longwood and Dye Club part of the resort.
Here is a map of the fire near Myrtle Beach prepared by the staff of the Sun-News.
A USAR team will be conducting searches of the burned structures.
Local officials requested air support from the National Guard beginning at dawn on Thursday.