PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WGHP) — The Grindstone fire is 90% contained as the battle stretches into the sixth day.
As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,050 acres of the 3,800-acre park have burned.
“I’m from the Piedmont, and, of course, Pilot Mountain is such an iconic sight from all over the Piedmont,” North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said. “When you see the images of PIlot Mountain on fire, it’s very upsetting to a lot of people. But the good news is the North Carolina Forest Service is always prepared for instances like this.”
Weather expected to fan the flames
Weather is still a concern for fire officials with warmer temperatures coming in.
The Mayor of Pilot Mountain, Evan Cockerham, posted on Facebook Sunday evening that the dry forecast for the next few days is contributing to the spread of the flames.
The weather is “against” them, according to the NC Forest Service. The dry, windy conditions are going to complicate containment, especially given the terrain.
What you need to know
The NC State Parks and Recreation Department says Pilot Mountain State Park is expected to be closed all week. They have no timeframe for when it will reopen.
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 Grindstone fire.
“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. The NC Forest Service believes the fire was human-made.
Officials say the cause was a campfire in an undesignated area. There is no info at this time on the party responsible for the campfire.
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 Monday., 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 Grindstone fire. Firefighters began helping the fire burn in a controlled manner, working to direct the fire down the mountain to the fire containment line.
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.
The fire was recorded at 572 acres burned on Tuesday morning.
By Tuesday afternoon, it had consumed more than 1,000 acres, and the fire was 20% contained.
The NC Forest Service Red Incident Management Team held a virtual community meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. to provide updates about the Grindstone Fire, as well as the Sauratown Mountain Fire.
There were 57 fire crew members on Pilot Mountain.
As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,050 acres of the 3,800-acre park have burned. The fire is 50% contained.
The Sauratown Mountain fire is 100% contained. There was a re-kindle in the middle of the containment lines that crews put out.
87 personnel were working on the fire.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler visited the N.C. Forest Service’s Incident Command Post at the Grindstone Fire at Pilot Mountain, announcing that the fire is 80% contained as of Thursday morning. Troxler has said that the cost of fighting the fire so far has been $328,000.