During certain times of the year, forestry professionals and often landowners of large properties will perform a scheduled controlled burn of land to reduce the combustible materials on the forest floor.

This practice has been done for many years, is an important method to prevent future large wildfires and is extremely healthy for the forest. Reducing leaf litter and other small combustible materials on the forest floor will prevent a rapid spread of a lightning-bolt fire or a blaze from another inadvertent ignition source that occurs in the forest. This will prevent fire spread as fuel is lessened and allows time for firefighters to respond.

A prescribed burn is planned in advance. A fire break is plowed around the area to be burned to ensure containment. Wild land firefighter crews burn the area and monitor it until the fire is out. Once the fire is extinguished and contained, it may smoke for several days due to stump holes and large logs that may continue to burn for a few days safely in the perimeter of the fire break. Forestry professionals and firefighters monitor the fire until it’s completely burned out. Smoke in the area is not considered an emergency, so county alerts will not be sent. Of course, in an emergency, alerts will be made.

Recently, we learned smoke was blowing over our area from a large 1,400-acre controlled burn at the Georgia/Tennessee/North Carolina border. All it took was a wind-direction change and all that smoke was pushed in Big Canoe’s direction.

Unfortunately, sometimes when fires are hundreds of miles away we don’t know burns are ongoing until the smoke arrives. Public Safety and local fire departments typically get notification of any relatively close prescribed burn. When that happens, we pass this information on to the community.

The POA is working on a text alert system for all residents. When that goes into effect, we will determine what alerts will be sent out. If frequent "emergency alerts" are blasted to the community, the general public might start to disregard alerts and become numb to the message. We don’t want that to happen.