SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WJHL) — The U.S. Forest Service said prescribed burning is happening Wednesday across 17 acres of land in Smyth and Washington counties.

According to a release from the U.S. Forest Service, the burning is happening in two separate locations. The first is the Creek Junction (Seaver Tract), located 6.5 miles northeast of Damascus. The second location is called Currin Fields and is located 3.5 miles east of Marion, the release said.

The release said burning is expected to last around four hours, weather permitting. Fire crews will continue to monitor the areas for several days following the burn, according to the release.

Residents in surrounding areas may see and smell smoke, however, weather conditions should disperse the smoke quickly, the release said.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, prescribed burning helps to improve wildlife habitat by restoring open woodlands and grasslands to the forest landscape. They also keep the public and their homes safe by reducing the buildup of dried leaves and wood in surrounding forest areas, which could lead to uncontrolled wildfires, according to the release.