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Brush fires cloud air with smoke

TUCKER - Two fires on opposite sides of the county sent clouds of smoke into the air as brush and debris burned Wednesday.

Firefighters were called to County Line Recycling on U.S. Highway 29 in Tucker about 5:14 a.m. to reports that a large pile of mulch and tree stump debris had gone up in flames, while hours later crews headed to extinguish a spreading brush fire in Duluth.

Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said nearly 21⁄2 to 3 acres of debris as well as some old salvage tractor equipment burned in the blaze at the recycling center. He said the cause of the fire is unknown.

Firefighters who arrived on scene worked quickly to contain the fire and prevent the flames from broadening.

"A fire break has been cut, and the fire has been contained," Rutledge said. He said several large pieces of equipment along with Georgia Forestry workers were called in to help separate the singed pile from the unburned side.

Rutledge said it could take a couple of days for the fire to be completely extinguished. He said recycling management will continue to work to bring in dirt and move the debris around to smother the flames.

"We want to ensure the public that the fire has been contained within the fire break, but they may see smoke for the next couple of days," Rutledge said.

Firefighters remained on scene until about 7 p.m. Wednesday before turning the remaining extinguishment of the fire over to recycling plan management.

"Of course we will respond if needed," Rutledge said.

Though there were no reports of smoke hindering traffic or businesses nearby, Rutledge said a haze of smoke was and may continue to be persistent throughout Tucker in both Gwinnett and DeKalb counties due to the large area that burned.

Rutledge said the items burning were all natural materials, posing no threat to the environment.

"We are advising anybody with asthma or respiratory problems to avoid the area for the next few days," Rutledge said.

While firefighters worked to contain flames to the piles of debris in Tucker, crews hurried to keep flames issuing from an area of brush behind the International Farmer's Market in Duluth from spreading.

Rutledge believed the fire started shortly before noon in a Dumpster behind the market on Shackelford Road, spreading up an embankment near Interstate 85 north. He said the exact cause of the blaze was unknown.

"About a quarter acre was involved," Rutledge said of the area of brush and woods that burned.

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading and had the blaze under control shortly after 1 p.m.

Rutledge said there were no injuries in either incident.