MARSTON — If you saw smoke rising above the treetops near Richmond County’s racetracks Thursday afternoon, it was just a controlled burn.
According to County Ranger Brandon Van Buren with the N.C. Forest Service, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission was conducting a controlled burn near the intersection of U.S. 1 and Beaverdam Church Road.
However, the Forest Service responded to two out-of-control burns on Tuesday.
The largest was near the corner of Airport and Battley Dairy roads.
Van Buren said about six acres burned after a fire started by pine straw harvesters spread.
Another three acres burned on Harrington Road when the fire from a burning pile of logs jumped to another pile and then into the nearby woods, according to the ranger.
While humidity levels are relatively high, Van Buren discourages burning during strong winds.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts reached up to 25 mph on Wednesday and the same is expected for Thursday.
Preliminary reports from the Forest Service show that four wildfires burned 1.8 acres on private and state-owned land in N.C. on Monday, May 9. One of those fires burned two-tenths of an acre in District 3, which includes Richmond, Anson, Scotland, Montgomery, Moore, Stanly, Lee and Chatham counties.
So far this month, 122 fires have burned 582 acres, according to the Forest Service. Three days — April 1, 3 and 4 — have each seen more than 20 wildfires. More than 12,000 acres have burned as a result of 3,814 fires statewide since Jan. 1.