What Caused the Smoke on I-20 Monday Morning?

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Many in Columbia were concerned about smoke that filled the area off Interstate-20 and what caused it on Monday morning.

What you probably saw Monday morning on I-20 was smoke covering the roadway. You could barely see off Percival Road.

Darryl Jones is the Forest Protection Chief at the South Carolina Forestry Commission and looked into the situation.

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"Force of nature doesn't always cooperate. We had some burning yesterday that went off fairly well on the ground on Fort Jackson. The smoke came back down and hung low and that's what really slowed down some traffic and caused some concern this morning," said Jones.

He says Fort Jackson was doing prescribed burning. Just like a prescription for medicine makes you feel better, this prescribed burn keeps the forest healthy.

"They did two separate ones yesterday for wildlife management and hazardous reduction used in those fuels. This was just a land management burn to reduce some of those fuels and protect the habitat,” explained Jones.

This may be just the beginning of what we'll see for the next several months. March, April, and May tend to be the Forestry Commissions busiest time of year. To explain why, News 19’s Chief Meteorologist Jim Gandy breaks it down for us.

“The problem is that you want to make sure that the winds are light. At this time of the year though when the winds are light, usually there’s a temperature inversion some distance above the ground and that tends to trap the smoke down below. It can create all kinds of problems at the surface,” explained Gandy.

The army base made sure they followed protocol and let the Forestry Commission know what and when they planned on burning.

You're required by the law to let the Forestry Commission know what and when you plan on doing it. It's to help keep everyone safe and on the same page.

"We don't want to have houses burned or people get injured or killed even by an escaped fire. We want to make sure we can minimize those causes and make sure if you're burning that you know the law and you're doing it within those parameters and doing it safely overall," said Jones.

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If you plan on burning anything, you are asked to call the Forestry Commission's Dispatch number at 1-800-777-FIRE. For more information, click here.