Pilot Mountain State Park fire burns hundreds of acres

PILOT MOUNTAIN, NC (AP) – Fire crews in North Carolina are working to bring down a blaze in Pilot Mountain State Park that has already burned hundreds of acres.

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

The blaze, which covered about 300 acres on Monday, increased by about 75 acres overnight, North Carolina Forest Service spokeswoman Christie Adams said by phone.

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

“The fire is not contained, but it is well within the containment lines,” Adams said. No structure is threatened, she said.

The fire was first reported on Saturday night in the Three Bear Gully Trail area. The cause has not been determined, Adams said.

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

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

State officials are asking people to stay away from the area and refrain from using drones as they could interfere with firefighting planes.

The forest service ban prohibits any open burning in affected counties, whether or not a permit has been previously issued. The issuance of any new permits was also suspended until the ban was lifted, according to the forest service.

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