SMOKE ALERT: Prescribed burns begin at Orton Plantation

Smoke from a prescribed burn at Orton Plantation in Brunswick County could be seen at least as far away as the Pine Valley area of Wilmington on March 10, 2016. (Photo: Jessica Viox)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Don’t be surprised if you see smoke in the air at and around Orton Plantation in Brunswick County the next couple of months.

According to a news release, Orton Plantation is conducting permitted controlled burning on 644 acres today as part of its management plan to improve forest health and restore longleaf pine habitat. Strict criteria such as optimal weather has been considered for today’s burn, in accordance with an approved plan that ensures the safety of people and property in the area, the release said. Orton Plantation says it has experienced local fire and safety professionals on site at all times.

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Orton Plantation says its annual prescribed burning runs from March 1 to May 1 on more than 6,000 acres between Leland and Southport between the Cape Fear River and NC 133.

According to the release, trained experts conduct the controlled burns at Orton, and are in close coordination with the North Carolina Forest Service, the North Carolina Department of Air Quality, the Brunswick and New Hanover County fire departments and 911 services. The burn is overseen by Orton Property Manager Dillon Epp, a state-certified controlled burner, in accordance with an approved plan to ensure the safety of people and property in the area. Controlled burns are dependent upon optimal weather conditions with an ultimate goal of smoke mitigation, the release says.

Although the projected burning window is two months long, Orton says the actual number of days prescribed fire will be applied is around 14 days.

Neighbors may see or smell smoke in Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Wilmington, as well as travelers on NC 133. Residents should contact the North Carolina Forest Service with concerns.