A cloud of smoke that occupied much of the skies over Bulloch County Wednesday was a product of more than 1,700 acres of burning woodland and strong winds, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission.
"Ft. Stewart is burning some acreage today, and the wind moved the smoke Statesboro's way," said Billy Nelson, assistant district manager with the Georgia Forestry Commission. "Workers started burning about 11:30 a.m. and finished around 3:00 p.m."
Approximately 1,785 acres of dense woodland was burned Wednesday, said Nelson, to reduce the amount of fuel for a potential wildfire.
"The main reason they burn is ‘fuel-reduction.' They do large acreage burns to remove build-up and prevent wildfires," he said. "Without burning, a wildfire would be a lot more devastating. The burning also provides a more favorable wildlife habitat by promoting plant growth."
The plume of smoke caused by Ft. Stewart burning, which incited numerous calls to Georgia Forestry's district office, began to clear out of Statesboro just before 4 p.m.
According to Nelson, the effects felt by Bulloch County are not unusual.
"Statesboro has been smoked-in several times as a result of Ft. Stewart burns. Savannah will get it sometimes too," he said. "They do a good bit of burning in the winter months. The smoke all depends on the weather patterns."
"The biggest issues faced when burning are smoke-related problems and poor visibility," said Nelson. "If it ever gets difficult to deal with, officials have to plan for, and handle it."
Statesboro's short-lived stint under a smoky sky resulted in no problems, he said.
"I haven't heard of any problems at all."
Jeff Harrison can be reached at 912-489-9454.