(Updated at 2:05 p.m.) Many D.C. area residents who have ventured outside today (Monday) have reported a smoky or burning smell from a wildfire unfolding in North Carolina.
The scent has been reported from D.C. to Arlington and into McLean. The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department confirmed that it has gotten calls from around the county, as previously reported by FFXnow’s sister site ARLnow.
The department confirmed that the smell is being carried over by winds from a large wildfire currently burning in North Carolina, citing the National Weather Service.
“A wind shift has caused smoke from the NC wildfires to migrate widely,” the FCFRD said. “Low wind speeds in our area prevent the odor and haze from dispersing.”
#FCFRD has been getting reports of a burning smell and haze throughout @fairfaxcounty. According to @NWS a wind shift has caused smoke from the NC wildfires to migrate widely. Low wind speeds in our area prevent the odor and haze from dispersing. @FairfaxCountyPD #weather pic.twitter.com/VW7t1xNxSo
— Fairfax County Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) March 27, 2023
Scanner traffic indicates that Fairfax County’s dispatch center received calls from numerous schools, prompting the fire department to send units to some locations until they realized that it appeared to be a countywide issue.
“We’re getting a lot of different calls throughout the county about a smoke smell,” a dispatcher said. “Not sure what’s going on yet, but just a head’s up, we’re getting calls from multiple schools on this.”
“I too smell a strong odor of either wood burning or something similar to that,” a school security contact said.
Fairfax County Public Schools issued a message recommending that any schools “experiencing burning odors” stay inside.
“Fairfax County is experiencing burning odors. Fairfax County fire department is aware. We recommend students and staff remain inside,” the school security announcement said.
One principal reported trying to get through the phone lines for 15 minutes.
“Right now, our phone lines are jammed,” FCPS school security said on the scanner at 1:12 p.m. “State, federal, local officials, meterologists and others are aware of this. It’s a wildfire from North Carolina. We recommend you bring kids inside from the schools due to underlying health conditions such as asthma.”
An FCPS spokesperson said students haven’t been told to shelter in place, but public safety officials recommended that students remain inside if smoke was detected.
“If smoke is detected in the air, it has been recommended to principals that they keep their students inside,” the spokesperson told FFXnow. “This is a school by school decision to be made by individual principals, however.”
@nbcwashington @ffxnow @ARLnowDOTcom
People are talking about the strange burnt smell across the DMV, any news on what this is???
— Steph Ger (@MrRednWhite) March 27, 2023
Terrible in McLean as well. Know there is a wildfire in NC near OBX. Wondering if it’s from that.
— Mean Streets of McLean (@MeanStreetsMcL) March 27, 2023
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