UPDATE

A strange smoke smell that permeated the air this morning comes at the same time firefighters in the Shenandoah Valley are battling a large mountain blaze.

Flames engulfed a Massanutten Mountain in Shenandoah and Warren counties in Virginia Tuesday afternoon, according to nvdaily.com.

Initially reported as a six-acre fire, the blaze has scorched more than 100 acres now. A lack of cell phone coverage on the mountain has hampered efforts to determine just how large an area the fire now covers, the website reports.

With the hot weather bearing down on our region over the next few days, Prince William County fire officials gave some safety tips on how to avoid damage from outside fires.

From the press release:

Proper Disposal of Smoking Materials

DO NOT discard smoking materials such as cigarettes, cigars and lighted matches into mulch laden landscapes, flower beds, shrubs, bushes, grassy areas or woods.

Protect your home or business by providing an area for individuals to properly extinguish and discard their smoking materials.

Landscaping

Provide a reasonable amount of space between flammable vegetation and your home or business to create a fire-wise/fire-safe area.

Avoid using highly combustible plants; use fire resistant plants (visit your local nursery for assistance).

Remove dead plants, trees and shrubs, wood, debris and low tree branches.

Keep plants watered during the heat of the summer.

Remove small trees and plants growing under trees; they permit ground fires to jump into tree crown.

Regularly, trim grass surrounding your home or business (up to 100 feet).

Stack firewood at least 30 feet from your home.

Provide proper clearance to electric devices, e.g., decorative lights.

Decorative/Building Materials

Avoid using materials that burn such as wood and use the following:

Siding – stucco or aluminum siding

Fences – stone, metal or vinyl

Decks – stone, masonry, or tile

 

LAKE RIDGE, Va. – The smell of smoke filled the air this morning in eastern Prince William County. But fire officials aren’t quite sure where it was coming from.

The smell was noticed by employees walking into the Prince William County Government Center, and was noticed from neighborhoods in Lake Ridge.

Fire crews were called to extinguish a small brush fire at Ashdale Plazain Dale City just after 8 a.m., but that isn’t thought to be the source of the smell, said county fire and rescue spokeswoman Kim Hylander.

There were no other fires working in the county at the time, she added.

The fire department even checked with nearby Quantico Marine Corps Base, which often conducts explosive munitions training during daytime hours. But they turned up nothing. 

The smell of smoke comes as the region is bracing for a heat wave that will span the next five days. Temperatures today are expected to be in the high 90s, but things will get hotter tomorrow when humidity sets in and temps will feel like they’re topping 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

That prompted an excessive heat watch for the area for Friday, and forecasters say they expect that watch to be upgraded to a heat warning by this afternoon.