A wide band of smoke visible from Johnson City toward Carter and Unicoi counties Thursday came from a controlled burn set by the U.S. Forest Service to rehabilitate the forest area, said Guy Street, forest service zone fire management officer.
The Forest Service had two controlled burns on Thursday — one on Powder Branch Road near the Laurels, which covered 110 acres, and another near Watauga Lake in the Dry Hills community, which covered 180 acres.
Street said the large-scale burning is necessary to reduce fire fuel in a possible wildfire, to rid the area of invasive species and to benefit wildlife.
In the opposite end of Carter County a brush fire in the Elk Mills area burned an estimated 35 acres of woodland and an old outbuilding.
Elk Mills-Poga Volunteer Fire Chief Michael Walsh said the fire was in the Sugar Hollow Resort area, located about a quarter mile from the fire station off U.S. Highway 321. Walsh said the volunteers were on the scene for about four hours and the coming of a steady rainfall during the afternoon helped bring the fire under control.
Walsh said the Elk Mills-Poga firefighters were assisted by the Stoney Creek, Hampton-Valley Forge and Butler volunteer fire departments.