STOKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Firefighters are making progress in the battle against a wildfire in Stokes County.
The fire, which started on Saturday on Sauratown Mountain, spread from 150 acres on Monday morning to over 750 acres by Monday night. Dry, windy conditions made it difficult for those working to fight the flames.
On Tuesday morning, firefighters said they have made significant progress in containing the fire and the rain moving through the Piedmont Triad has helped, but they say that the situation is far from over.
Officials say that they have 41% containment of the 750+ acre fire as of 11 p.m.
Crews spent Tuesday monitoring key sites with the rain giving them time to slow down into a “tactical pause” and restock necessary equipment. Poor visibility is an ongoing challenge for those working to fight the fire, which includes the Winston-Salem Fire Department.
Visibility was incredibly bad due to a combination of smoke and fog from the wet conditions creating a “super fog,” reducing visibility down to near zero.
“Roughly 60 personnel assisted with night operations, some of whom were dayshift crews that extended their operational period due to predicted gusty winds ahead of forecast precipitation for the overnight hours. Night operations reported rain over the fire at around 3 a.m. this morning. In total, approximately 150 personnel resources have supported this incident. Resources include N.C. Forest Service personnel, out-of-state resources, structural firefighters and support agencies,” the forest service said.
From the moment the Sauratown Mountain fire was first called-in, Winston-Salem Battalion Chief Joe Ramsey says his crews have assisted their neighbors in Stokes County.
Ramsey says the current fire that’s burned more than 750 acres has been hard to contain.
“It’s such a challenge on Sauratown Mountain just due to access and due to terrain and just the fact that the weather hasn’t helped us,” Ramsey said.
According to the North Carolina Forest Service, Firefighters evacuated homes and a youth camp Sunday night.
As of Tuesday night, Ramsey says no buildings have been damaged.
Thanks to a collaborative effort from several local departments and crews who came from as far Oregon.
“It’s such a brotherhood and a sisterhood … We lost 300 acres, but we didn’t lose structures. We could’ve lost all the houses on Sauratown Mountain. We could’ve lost Mountain Top Youth Camp, but we didn’t,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey says some of his crews took a break Tuesday in Winston-Salem but plan to return to Sauratown Mountain on Wednesday.
Governor Roy Cooper is also expected to stop by Wednesday morning to thank all the firefighters.
The drought conditions have fueled the fire, burning even if the biggest fuel sources such as large trunks and branches, which wouldn’t typically burn completely. The rain has been a blessing, officials said in an afternoon update, however, it does create additional safety risks for personnel.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for the residents in the area of Sauratown Mountain Road.