PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WGHP) — Pilot Mountain continues to burn Tuesday, marking the fourth day of flames atop the North Carolina landmark.
On Tuesday, Nov. 30, officials announced that about 1,000 acres of the 3,800-acre park has burned. The fire is 20 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon.
New photos show firefighters on Pilot Mountain working to put out low flames amid plumes of smoke.
The NC Forest Service Red Incident Management Team will hold a virtual community meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. to provide updates about the Grindstone Fire, as well as the Sauratown Mountain Fire. An incident commander and other operations and command staff will be speaking in order to keep people informed.
Weather expected to fan the flames
The Mayor of Pilot Mountain, Evan Cockerham, posted on Facebook on Sunday, Nov. 28 that the dry forecast for the next few days is contributing to the spread of the flames.
The weather is “against” them as of right now, according to the NC Forest Service. The dry, windy conditions expected today are going to complicate containment, especially given the terrain.
According to meteorologist Emily Byrd with WFXR’s sister station, “A cold front is moving through, and the breeze it’s producing is going to enhance the danger of wildfires [Monday].”
On Tuesday morning, officials said the wind, while strong, is not as big of a concern for the fire since most of it is low to the ground.
What you need to know
The NC State Parks and Recreation Department says Pilot Mountain State Park is expected to be closed all week.
A statewide ban on outdoor burning is in place at this time.
Cockerham asks that anyone in Surry and surrounding counties refrain from any outdoor burning. Anyone who sees outdoor burning should contact local law enforcement.
Smoke and haze
The Forsyth County Emergency Services Communications Division has received multiple reports of a strong smell of smoke and haze in multiple areas within the county due to the fire at Pilot Mountain.
“Smoke from the wildfire near Pilot mountain will impact the Triad during Monday late afternoon/evening through the overnight hours Tuesday as winds shift from the northwest to the southwest,” the Forsyth County Office of Environmental Assistance and Protection said in an alert. “Particle pollution levels will be elevated as the wildfire smoke rotates through the Triad.”
The Forsyth County EAP does not expect particle pollution to reach unhealthy levels, but the agency said people with asthma or other health issues may want to limit their time outdoors.
“By noon Tuesday, the smoke plume will primarily affect portions of Surry and Stokes counties into southern Virginia,” Forsyth County EAP said.
The FCESCD says you do not need to call 911 to report fire on Pilot Mountain or smoke spreading from the mountain. The public should only call 911 if there is an “actual” incident involving smoke and visible flames.
How you can help
The Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department has been accepting donations of water and Gatorade at their station and has received an abundance.
“Storage for these items has been overwhelmed. If you would like to donate, please consider a monetary donation to your local fire department. Thank you all that have donated items as they will be used,” Surry County Emergency Services said in a news release.
According to officials, the fire started at the Grindstone Trail. The call reporting the fire came in around 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 27. The NC Forest Service believes the fire was human-made, but the exact cause is unclear.
Crews were called off Saturday night but returned Sunday morning with more than 30 firefighters from area agencies, NC Forest Service personnel and NC Park members.
The fire had destroyed about 60 acres by about 9 a.m. Sunday, increasing to about 200 acres by 4 p.m.
Crews worked to prep around infrastructure and buildings in the park area.
Planes were in the air at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 29 and more crews joined those already fighting the fire Monday from southern North Carolina counties, as well as crews from east of Raleigh.
An official with the NC Forest Service says that an estimated 500 acres burned as of 11 a.m.
A new strategy could change the course of the Pilot Mountain fire. Firefighters began helping the fire burn in a controlled manner, working to direct the fire down the mountain to the fire containment line. Officials say this will take a couple of days.
Monday night, 29 NC Forest Service members set up an incident command post in an old funeral home about seven miles from the park entrance.
About 60 firefighters are working the fire.
A time-lapse video shows the progression of the fire burning on Pilot Mountain. The video, taken by Daniel Whittaker, shows flames burning up the side of the mountain overnight up to Pilot Mountain’s famous knob.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire is recorded at 572 acres burned.
There are 57 fire crew members on Pilot Mountain
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