Smoke arrives from swamp fire

August 10, 2011

Smoke wafted into the Washington area Tuesday from a major fire in a huge swamp about 200 miles south of the District, authorities said.

Federal and local authorities said smoke drifted north early Tuesday from the Great Dismal Swamp, a vast wildlife refuge and park of more than 100,000 acres on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.

“By lunchtime, we had 40 different folks calling in at various places throughout the county” reporting the odor of smoke, said Lt. Keith Hamilton of the Anne Arundel County fire department.

Firefighters went to 26 separate places, most south of Annapolis and close to the water, but found no fires, Hamilton said. He said he, too, smelled the odor. “It smelled like a brush fire.” Rainfall, he said, later diminished the odor. Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady said the smell of smoke reported in Bowie on Tuesday apparently had the same cause.

The National Weather Service received numerous reports of smoke from Maryland’s and Virginia’s Eastern Shore. In some cases, the weather service said, visibility fell to between one and three miles. Winds that blew from the south Tuesday morning carried the smoke, it said.

Officials said at least part of the fire was reported Thursday and was started by lightning. They said they expected it to persist until significant rainfall mitigated dry conditions.

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