Mid-Atlantic under enhanced risk for wildfires on Thursday

North Carolina Forest Service issues ban on all open burning, cancels all burning permits statewide until further notice

There's an enhanced risk for wildfires across parts of the Mid-Atlantic Thursday as crews still work to contain fires that broke out in North Carolina earlier this week.

The National Weather Service says a surface low over southeastern Canada is continuing to move to the east and northeast during the day Thursday. That will allow for some breezy conditions across the Mid-Atlantic.

During the afternoon, relative humidity levels will get into the 40-50% range from South Carolina northward into western Maryland, raising concerns for an increased risk of wildfires in the region.

Forecasters say the main threat for wildfires will be in the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where downslope effects could support dry and windy conditions, increasing the fire risk.

The Grindstone Fire on Pilot Mountain just outside Winston-Salem began Saturday. Officials say it started from a campfire in an undesignated area. It quickly grew to more than 100 acres less than 24-hours after it began, forcing state officials to close Pilot Mountain State Park until further notice.

Firefighters raced up the mountain to try and contain the blaze, but it continued growing. Between Sunday night and Monday morning, the fire grew by 75 acres. And by Monday afternoon, it grew even larger, burning 500 acres in total.

As of Wednesday, officials said the fire had burned more than 1,000 acres and was only 50% contained. However, the blaze was within the containment lines.

Crews are also working to extinguish the Huntsville Mountain Fire, which broke out on Pogue Mountain.

Fire officials in McDowell County said crews have been working to control the fire since Tuesday night. At least 30 firefighters were called to the scene, and at least one helicopter was assisting in the firefighting efforts.

Crews were busy Wednesday trying to stop the blaze from spreading by constructing additional containment lines. But work has been slower as firefighters face incredibly rugged terrain that is only accessible by foot.

So far, no buildings have been impacted and no injuries have been reported.

It's unknown how this fire began.

The North Carolina Forest Service issued a ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits statewide until further notice because of the increased fire risk in the state.

"It is fall wildfire season in North Carolina, and we are seeing wildfire activity increase due to dry conditions," said North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "With these ongoing conditions, a statewide burn ban is necessary to reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading quickly. Our top priority is always to protect lives, property and forestland across the state."

The ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued.