Smoke may be visible in Bay Area due to controlled burns in Hillsborough, Polk counties

Agencies across the Bay Area were conducting controlled burns Wednesday. Officials said there's no cause for concern, however, residents may be able to see and even smell smoke.

The Florida Forestry Division announced the controlled burns will be conducted in Hillsborough and Polk counties.

The agency said the burns are an economical way to remove dead vegetation, which makes travel easier for wildlife, and promote the growth of new food sources.

"The wildfires that happen in the state, they could be much worse if it wasn't for the land management programs that we have in our state. A lot of times, if we can't catch a fire, if the wind's just blowing it real hard, we'll kind of steer it off into areas that have already been treated with prescribed fire," said Todd Chlanda, a Florida Forest Service spokesperson, adding there are several additional benefits of controlled burns. "That ash has got nutrients in it, and it returns it back to the soil and so it promotes new tender growth for livestock."

In Hillsborough County, a 45-acre burn will happen near Gunn Highway and Van Dyke Road in the Lutz area. 


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There will also be a 40-acre fire for pasture improvement, east of Alafia River State Park.

In southern Hillsborough County, there will be a 116-acre burn in Wimauma. 

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And in the northeast part of the county, a controlled burn will take place near Old Hopewell Road in Plant City.

A larger burn is planned in Polk County, where there will be an 820-acre burn in the Baird area.