Pilot Mountain, N.C. - If you're not from Pilot Mountain and don't know the area has been on fire for several days, you'd never know it if you drove by on Monday. At times you might see a puff of smoke here and there, but, even that is becoming more rare.
But, the mountain is still on fire and state officials are calling it a wildfire. You can smell fire in the air, but all you see are small clouds of smoke drifting along the floor of the forest.
There are about 90 people working to keep the fire under control. The State Forest Service estimates this fire will ultimately cost about $100,000 by the time this is all over. The original controlled burn that led to this wildfire cost less than $3,000.
So, did somebody screw up? Or, are these types of fires the risk you take when you have a controlled burn?
NC Division of Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Charlie Peek said, "it's something we're going to be looking at very closely in the days to come. We'll be looking at every step we took with this prescribed burn and the prescribed burn program in general and re-assess."
It could take several weeks for the park to reopen and crews will keep monitoring the mountain for several weeks as well. That's because there are a lot of unpredictable factors that come into play with fires - like the weather.
However, the Forest Service says the fire will actually be a good thing for the park because it will clear out all the brush and make sections of the forest more inviting to plants and wildlife. The humidity in the air and the rain we're expecting this week should also help keep the fire under control.
The state forest service says something like an ice storm would be far more devastating than this fire because ice storms can bring down huge trees and create a lot more damage.
Right now, safety is the biggest concern for officials on the scene.
"When it gets dark out here, footing is really an issue. Snags. This is nasty terrain. I want to make sure all of my guys are safe," Incident Commander Kevin Harvell said. "Until we get a good couple inches of rain, you're going to see a snag up on the mountain or you're going to see a stump hole burning for weeks."
Peek added, "Even after the fire goes out, our rangers have to go over every inch of this park to make sure that our facilities are safe, that anywhere a visitor might go will be safe. That we don't have hanging limbs in trees that could fall."
WFMY News 2