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Pilot Mountain wildfire 95% contained, fire officials say

Firefighters continue to monitor the area as they mop up smoldering debris on the forest floor.

PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. — After a six-day battle of fighting flames, containment increases to 95% on the Grindstone Fire at Pilot Mountain.

With 57 fire personnel on duty, the fire is beginning to dwindle down leaving zero injuries. 

Firefighters continue to monitor the area as they mop up smoldering debris on the forest floor. Crews are also on the lookout for standing dead trees and falling branches as they locate any threats to the fire containment line within Pilot Mountain State Park.

"On the west side of the fire, firefighters (are utilizing) portable pumps to pump water from a water source to a temporary tank 3,300 feet uphill," the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services wrote in a news release.

State officials said almost 8,000 feet of hose has been stretched from the temporary tank to various mop up points within 100 feet of the fire perimeter.

“Smoke is visible up high on Pilot Mountain,” Kenny Griffin, operations section chief said. “Until we get significant rain, smoke will continue to be visible periodically. The smoke that is visible is well within containment lines.”

Gov. Roy Cooper thanked the North Carolina Forest Service and local firefighters in the area. He also thanked the community for their outpouring of support. 

“I want to thank the people of this area of the state. All of them stepped up. Started donating food and water and helping the local fire departments. I will tell you that you’ve done a great job that got enough. They are always needing your help and your financial contributions,” Cooper said.

The North Carolina Forest Service said a campfire started the wildfire.

It was started in a non-designated/unauthorized area. They said there's no word on who's responsible for the fire. The law enforcement division within the NC Forest Service is handling the investigation. 

The blaze torched 1,050 acres and had been doubling in size every day. Firefighters remain on high alert, however, because the elements still aren't in their favor. Dry conditions and no rain in sight aren't a good mix for wildfires.

A burn ban is still issued for North Carolina due to hazardous forest fire conditions. The ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued. The issuance of any new permits has also been suspended until the ban is lifted.

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