What’s that smell west of Washington, D.C.? Forest fires burning near Skyline Drive and Front Royal


Inset map panel shows Shenandoah National Park fire location. Background image is the view from Pinnacles, Skyline Drive, looking northwest, where the fire is occurring and smoke is seen. (National Park Service)

(4:30 p.m.: Post was updated to indicate both Va. fires discussed may have contributed to smoke in the air. Hat tip to commenter Netsrak who wrote: “The smoky smell in the DC area is as likely to be from the Point 2 fire (70 miles due west of DC) as it is from the Neighbor Mountain fire (73 miles WSW of DC.”)

Several Twitter followers this morning noticed the scent of smoke and burning wood in the air in Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Montgomery counties as well as the District. The cause is most likely two forest fires burning to the west and southwest: near Front Royal and Shenandoah National Park.

The Luray Page Free Press reports one of the blazes, called the Neighbor Mountain Fire, is about 250 acres in size and may have been sparked by a lightning strike over the weekend. It provides these additional details:

There are 30 people on the fire now with additional resources being ordered up and will be in place tomorrow. The Virginia Department of Forestry will be concentrating suppression efforts along Rt 612 where numerous homes and a church is in the area. [On Wednesday] the fire [was] approximately 3/4 a mile from these structures

Smoke from the blaze can be viewed from the Pinnacles webcam in Shenandoah National Park.

The Neighbor Mountain Fire is one of two burning in Virginia. The second, the Point 2 Wildland Fire - is burning on Massanutten mountain southwest of Front Royal. NVDaily.com said it is about 181 acres and 5 percent contained.

Weather conditions have been favorable for wildfires over the last several days with low humidity, and gusty winds at times. As humidity rises over the next few days, the fire risk should diminish.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.

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