Controlled burn brings smoke to Gainesville

Published: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 4:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 4:28 p.m.

A controlled burn in Columbia County again caused smoke to blanket Gainesville on Sunday, the second day the area has seen and smelled smoke from a burn in the Osceola National Forest, according to the Florida Division of Forestry.

About 1,000 acres were burning Sunday in Columbia County, said Ludie Bond, a wildlife mitigation specialist with the Florida Division of Forestry. Wind out of the northwest blew the smoke into counties south and southeast of burn site, including Alachua County.

"They're burning such large amounts of vegetation that the smoke generated is pretty impressive," Bond said.

Prescribed burning is generally done when the weather is cooler and vegetation is dormant. Burning gets rid of fuel that could power future wildfires and helps the health of the land.

Bond said it can be confusing that authorizations are issued for these kind of burns, but the general public is told to use caution because the recent hard freeze kills plants that can fuel fires when there is low humidity and wind. But authorizations at this time are issued to those, such as the U.S. Forest Service, with personnel who are knowledgeable about daily conditions that can change fire behavior.

It was unlikely that the smoke would remain in place to cause problems for motorists overnight or Monday.

"Chances are it will continue to lift and move out," Bond said.

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