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By Erin Smith

Residents and business owners in Elizabethtown were overtaken by surprise when a cloud of smoke arrived in town on Friday afternoon. Some residents in Elizabethtown were reporting smokey conditions and ash falling in parking lots.

Bladen County Fire Marshal Kenneth Clark confirmed the smoke is coming from a controlled burn being conducted by Forest Service officials.

The culprit of the smoke is a controlled burn being conducted by the Bladen Lakes State Forest for the purpose of hazard reduction. The burn is taking place near the Hattie Tatum Trail off of Sweet Home Church Road and consists of about 550 acres, according to Lisa Hartrick, the Assistant Forest Supervisor.

“They are using a helicopter for the burn and hope to be “fired off” by 3 p.m.” said Hartrick.

She said residents may experience periods of smoke for awhile following the completion of the burn.