GATLINBURG — The fire on the mountain may be by design this spring in the Smokies.
Officials of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park plan several intentional burns through May.
The National Park Service said the controlled burns reduce the accumulation of fuel for wildfires near residential communities and help restore diverse tree populations in the forest.
As weather permits, the burns are scheduled in areas near Wears Valley, Lynn Hollow and Cades Cove.
Park officials say the popular Loop Road will remain open in Cades Cove, but visitors may experience brief delays because of drifting smoke or safety concerns as firefighter work along the road.
Fire management officer Dave Loveland said 600 acres of fields burned earlier in the cove look great as spring arrives.