Smoke from controlled burn causes concern in Henrico County

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Smokey skies over western Henrico and neighboring Hanover sparked numerous calls to fire officials.

Thirty acres burned Friday off Verdon Road near the Doswell area. It was part of a prescribed burn to prepare for the next crop of pine trees. A common practice, but one that stirred up a lot of concern.

A combination of no wind and high humidity made for smokey skies. There was so much smoke at one point, dispatchers were inundated with calls from the curious, mainly from the Windham community and Broad Street corridor.

"Now with all the wildfires in California, I mean some folks might think those conditions exist here in Virginia which they do not," said David Terwilliger with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

The smoke wasn't from a raging wildfire, rather a controlled burn in Hanover by a private forestry consultant.

"What's left smoldering here is approximately thirty acres that's on private forest land," said Terwilliger.

Back in June, pine trees that once stood on the land were harvested. A controlled burn is one way to clear the land for a new crop. Seedlings will be planted here next spring.

Twenty years from now the charred land would look more like nearby pines to be later harvested for paper and lumber. Terwilliger says a controlled burn isn't taken lightly.

"There are guidelines that we follow for smoke management such as wind direction and humidity the mixing height where the smoke mixes with the transport winds and is carried away," said Terwilliger.

Henrico Fire officials cautioned people with breathing problems to limit their time outdoors. But there were no medical calls related to the smoke.

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