PILOT MOUNTAIN — North Carolina Forest Service and Division of Parks and Recreation officials have declared the Pilot Mountain State Park fire is 100 percent contained. Crews continued rehabilitation work on fire breaks Wednesday at Pilot Mountain State Park as well as an ongoing assessment of roads and trails for safety hazards.
“The emphasis is on rehabilitating the fire lines,” commented North Carolina Forest Service spokesman David Brown. “We have been putting in drainage structures to stop soil erosion and generally stabilizing fire lines and smoothing things up. It’s looking a whole lot better.”
Late Wednesday the fire, which has ranged over a 675-acre area, was reported 98 percent contained. Only the Yadkin River Section and Carter Trail or Corridor Trail area of the park remain open. A total of 54 personnel, two bulldozers, two engines and some utility vehicles were used Wednesday as firefighters continued to patrol firebreaks looking for any remaining hot spots.
“I was hopeful we’d be able to call it 100 percent contained by the end of the day (Wednesday),” added Brown. “We are winding things down and closing up the paper work. We anticipated releasing some crews to return to their home areas and scaling back those at the site.”
Other officials sounded equally positive in their news regarding the incident which began when a prescribed, controlled burn jumped containment lines.
“We’ve started to access hazards we can see and although it may be too optimistic, I’m hopeful we will be able to begin opening the park in stages by Thanksgiving weekend,” said North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation spokesperson Charlie Peek.
Peek indicated weather conditions were forecast to remain favorable to firefighters throughout the week with no strong winds predicted. Daytime temperatures were predicted to be cool and the relative humidity moderate.
The incident management team for the fire lists the Surry County Emergency Management Services, Pilot Knob Volunteer Fire Department, Shoals Volunteer Fire Department and Ararat Volunteer Fire Department as cooperating with the division of parks and recreation and the forest service.
According to Peek, up to six-tenths of an inch of rain Monday over the burned area extinguished many hot spots firefighters had been unable to reach in the rugged terrain. A small contingent patrolled fire lines Tuesday night with only one hot spot on the northwest side of the fire concerning officials.
Peek indicated the helicopter assigned to the fire was not needed for water drops on Tuesday and plans that had been under way to use a number of volunteer fire department fire trucks to set up and fill drop tanks where hot spots needed to be extinguished were scaled back following the rain.
Officials have stated there has been very little damage to standing timber because the fire intensity was slow moving with short flame lengths. News releases from the division state the fire reduced the amount of fuel on the ground, an objective of the prescribed burn last Thursday.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.