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Smoky Haze over Athens

By: Julia Sanders
First year, Intended Journalism major
Online section writer

With a divisive presidential election happening last week and upcoming final exams looming just on the horizon, students at the University of Georgia are likely experiencing a mental fog. Meanwhile, UGA’s campus has been experiencing a very real fog.

The smoky haze rolled onto campus, accompanied by the strong smell of a campfire on Thursday, Nov. 10. It is no average campfire that is causing the smoke around campus, however.

The cause is forest fires – and rather large ones at that. According to the Wildfire Today website, the fires in Chimney Rock, NC started on Nov. 5 and have continued ever since. These fires probably started as the result of the low relative humidity and a recent lack of precipitation that have left the region dry and susceptible.

Jay T. Lynch, a Linguistics major from Cumming, GA said, “I first noticed the smoke Thursday at 10 a.m. I already knew about the forest fires because the smoke had already hit my hometown, so I knew that it was coming.”

In the article “Smoke from wildfires impacts Georgia,” Gabbert, the author, mentions that North Carolina has the most active fires currently, but the largest active fire is in Georgia – the 10,336-acre Rough Ridge Fire in the northern part of the state. This fire started on Oct. 16, when a lightning bolt struck a patch of land. Many people, including a little less than 300 personnel, have worked to help with the land.

Jacob Schindler, a Landscape Architecture major from Lake Park, GA, said that his initial thought when he saw the smoke was “something weird is going on.” He stated that on Thursday, he “saw something coming over the horizon…(he) read that Fannin County (in Georgia) had forest fires. Today (he) read that these fires have been going on since October, and we are now just getting the smoke from it.”

The result of these forest fires have been alarming, not only for the safety of the burning land, but also for the people living in NC, GA and the neighboring states. The fires in NC have become so extreme that many people have been forced to evacuate.

Hima Velaga, a Computer Science major from Sandy Springs, GA, said that she was “concerned for the safety for the people living near the forest fires.” Hopefully, the smoke will clear, and authorities will be able to quench the forest fires. Then, students can return to normal campus life – and thoughts of their final exams.

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