Residents meet with Pilot Mountain State Park officials

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SHOALS, N.C. -- Property owners and residents living around Pilot Mountain State Park met with park and forestry officials Monday night about the wildfire.

Residents wanted answers from officials on how the fire started and asked for changes in how officials notify residents about future controlled fires.

The fire started as a control burn last Thursday but by Friday afternoon had turned into a wildfire.

"We started out by getting a permit," said park superintendent Matt Windsor who went into detail about a series of checklist that have to approved before a controlled burn can begin.

The checklist included a spot weather forecast for the park by the National Weather Service.

Many residents said they observed dry and windy conditions last Thursday.

"As we started the burn we were very successful with one side, the other side of the burn started to have an issue with spots coming out of the trees," Windsor said.

The wildfire has burned hundreds of acres and came close to residential property on Sunday.

Currently the park service only contacts the local newspapers and post scheduled burns on their website.

"I went to the doctor today thinking I had bronchitis and he said no it's all the smoke," said Dr. Annette Ayers, one of several residents who were affected by respiratory problems. "I just hope this is a learning experience," she said.

Officials say the wildfire has destroyed railing at the little pinnacle. Park officials say they will reopen the park in sections beginning in about two weeks.

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