Fire at Pilot Mountain State Park burns hundreds of acres

Posted at 7:26 PM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 19:26:47-05

PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (AP) -- Fire crews in North Carolina are working to control a fire in Pilot Mountain State Park that has already burned hundreds of acres.

Meanwhile the N.C. Forest Service announced Monday a ban on all open burning and has canceled all burning permits statewide until further notice.

The fire that covered about 300 acres Monday grew by about 75 acres overnight, North Carolina Forestry Service spokeswoman Christie Adams said by telephone.

A team was expected to arrive Monday to take over management of the fire, Adams said. There were about 30 to 40 people involved in the fight Monday morning, she said.

"The fire is not contained, but it's well within the containment lines," Adams said. No structures are threatened, she said.

The fire was first reported Saturday evening in the area of the Three Bear Gully Trail. The cause hasn't been determined, Adams said.

The North Carolina State Parks and Recreation Department has said the park likely will be closed all week. The park northwest of Winston-Salem is known for its iconic knob that rises about 1,500 feet above the surrounding terrain.

In a Facebook post Sunday, Pilot Mountain Mayor Evan Cockerham said the situation is being closely monitored and the dry conditions have led to a ban on outdoor burning in Surry County and the surrounding counties.

State officials are asking people to stay away from the area and to refrain from using drones because they may interfere with firefighting aircraft.

The ban issued by the forest service prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted., according to the forest service.