Prescribed burn in Alabama sends smoke over metro Atlanta

Smoke drifting east from a prescribed burn just across the state line from Georgia wafted over the metro Atlanta area Wednesday night.

Calls and tweets from Cobb and Paulding county residents began pouring into the newsrooms of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News about 6:30 p.m.

Residents told of hazy, smoky conditions and a sharp smell of burning along U.S. 41 near Marietta, Wade Green Road in Kennesaw and Acworth Due West Road near Acworth. Smoke also was reported in the Dallas area of Paulding County.

“Alabama forestry is doing some type of burn,” Mary Ann Phipps, public information officer for the Paulding County Fire Department, told the AJC in a phone interview Wednesday night. At about 8 p.m., Phipps said, “It’s starting to rain here, so it should be subdued soon.”

The Cedartown Standard website, citing information from the Georgia Forestry Commission, reported that a 1,400-acre prescribed burn to control vegetation took place in Alabama on Wednesday, causing heavy smoke conditions in southern Polk County.

The smoke should start to clear Thursday, but it could take another day or two for the smell to dissipate, the newspaper reported.

Wendy C. Burnett, spokeswoman for the Georgia Forestry Commission, told the AJC the state had no burns scheduled Wednesday in the Atlanta area, but elsewhere, “there’s a lot of prescribed burning going on. This is the time of year for it.”

Forestry agencies conduct burns in part to eliminate undesirable underbrush, a source of fuel for more damaging wildfires, according to a Georgia Forestry website.

Prescribed burns also benefit the environment, Burnett said.

“A lot of plants are fire-dependent," she said. "They thrive and release their seeds when fire occurs. A lot of wildlife species also benefit from prescribed fires.”

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