Smoke from wildfires burning in the southern Appalachians meandered south midafternoon Monday, shrouding much of the midstate in a thick, gray haze expected to linger through Tuesday.
Hundreds of people all over Macon started calling 911 after strong southbound winds brought the smoke to town.
“We’re getting absolutely flooded with calls because people are concerned,” said Chief Brenda Thomas, Macon-Bibb County fire prevention director. The smoke residents are seeing “is more than likely from the wildfires, but they should dial 911. … We need to check it just to be sure.”
The Georgia Forestry Commission has helicopters periodically spot checking for fires, Thomas said.
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“It looks like an overcast, but it’s not,” she said.
Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece urged people on Facebook to follow recommendations of the forestry commission and only report the smoke when there’s a visible flame.
“Sensitive groups including individuals with asthma, lung or heart disease, children, older adults and pregnant women should take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke,” the post said. “If you feel like you are having health effects from smoke, see your doctor or health professional as needed.”
Cold winds coming from the north are trapping smoke close to the ground, said Keith Stellman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.
Tuesday “probably will be similar,” Stellman said. “Plan for the smell of smoke in the area, it’s just a function of how much we’ll see.”