STONE MOUNTAIN — For the health of the land and the safety of everyone, Stone Mountain State Park will be conducting a series of about 1,500 acres of prescribed fires through June, with the largest section at nearly 600 acres burned Monday. The controlled burns will continue through Friday with the Stone Mountain Loop Trail, Upper Trail Head Parking and Lower Trail Parking Areas closed.
These fires are carefully guided and under the direction of North Carolina Forest Service and local fire departments. For the Monday burn at Stone Mountain, members of Cherry Land and Traphill fire departments were on hand to control the blaze. Areas designated for controlled fires are surrounded by firefighters with trenches dug to direct the burn.
According to Park Superintendent Bill Meyer, “The reason for these burns is to reduce the fuel load currently on the ground now which will greatly reduce the chance of a wild fire, which could potentially cause a lot of damage. A secondary reason for these burns is to provide plant and animal species that are native to this area a more favorable environment in which to grow since fire does not occur as frequently as it once did.”
Although smoke from the fires was not always obvious, there was no doubt that something significant in the area was burning. Approaching Stone Mountain Monday was like driving into a misty morning in the middle of a sunny afternoon. What started as smelling like a pleasant bonfire quickly became the odor of a fireplace flue that was forgotten as the smoke grew thick enough to distort the sun.
That smell will completely dissipate over time, however, for those in the area who desire a quicker way to eliminate the smoky odor, they can do more than just wait. Dry baking soda and coffee grounds soak up odor and can be placed directly on the offensive item. Baking soda also can be added to the laundry or used to wash foul hair. Vinegar also may be used, however, it leaves its own unique smell.
Neighbors of the park can be alerted to park events such as these fires by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone with questions about the burning can call 336-957-8185.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.