What’s that smell? DC-area experiences weird odor; fire officials investigate

Reports of smoke and the smell of rubber inundated fire department call centers in Southern Maryland and D.C. on Monday.

From St. Mary’s to Prince George’s counties, to the District, crews are searching for a source of what’s being described as an “electrical fire smell.”

Fire officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, said they’ve received similar reports.

No local source has been found, but fire departments are pointing to a 5,200-acre brush fire burning in North Carolina‘s Tyrrell County as a possible culprit.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources sent out an advisory about the fire Monday morning. It is unclear if that is the source of the haze and rubber smell.

WTOP Meteorologist Mike Stinneford said winds appear to be pushing the smoke to the east of the region. At 3 p.m., he said, the Air Quality Index was 92 (moderate). As of 4:15 p.m., it dropped to 32 (good).

The National Weather Service said that the smoke should be cleared Monday evening.

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Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is the co-creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022 and takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in D.C. region.

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