Prescribed burns make for smoky skies

Prescribed burns have the purpose of lowering the amount of fuel on forest ground, which has the beneficial effect of preventing catastrophic wildfire. But, depending on where the wind takes the smoke, a prescribed burn can be mistaken for an actual fire—as was the case this week in southern Oconee County. “The weather being optimal, low humidity and temperatures a little bit on the rise and a little bit of wind, it’s a great time for state and national forests and tree farm folks to do prescribed burns. But it can be confusing for residents and fire fighters alike,” Oconee Fire Chief Charlie King says. King’s advice is that if you see smoke to call 9-1-1 and allow authorities to check it out, to be on the safe side. Smoke from prescribed burns in neighboring Georgia and North Carolina, at times, blows into Oconee. And the U-S Forest Service in North Carolina announced today it plans to conduct several burns in the next three to six weeks—four of them in Macon County, Oconee’s neighbor to the north.