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Smoke smell traced to A.P Hill burn

The current prescribed burns at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County have irritated not only folks near the installation, but as far north as Fredericksburg and Stafford County over the past few days.

The burns began earlier this month and will continue through the end of the month.

The burns are done to eliminate the undergrowth in the forest and prevent larger woodland fires.

“They conduct the prescribed burns to minimize the dangers of fire,” said Bob McElroy, public affairs officer for the Army post.

Fort A.P. Hill usually conducts the burns in the spring and the fall.

He said that during some training exercises conducted at the installation, an accidental fire can sometimes spread throughout the property and into the outside community if there is a lot of brush in the woods.

For the burns to take place, the environmental conditions have to be just right, McElroy said.

It can’t be raining. And while there must be some wind, he said, there can’t be too much.

When the burning is done, breezes can carry smoke, and sometimes ashes, to surrounding areas.

Friday and Monday, smoke could be smelled in Fredericksburg and parts of Stafford, and ashes were reported falling near Mary Washington Hospital.

McElroy said the burning is usually done between 11 a.m. and about 3 p.m.

On Monday, 1,900 acres were burned, and on Tuesday, about 400 acres, McElroy said. Fort A.P. Hill has 76,000 acres of land.

McElroy said normally the wind blows toward the east, but on Monday it blew in the opposite direction.

State regulations against burning brush before 4 p.m. are in effect until April 30.

However, because Fort A.P. Hill is a federal installation, it does not have to abide by that law.

 

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

rsidersky@freelancestar.com

 

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