North Carolina wildfire burns 500 acres on Pilot Mountain

Pilot Mountain State Park will likely remain closed for the week, officials say

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A wildfire that started on a North Carolina mountain over the weekend has now grown to at least 500 acres, according to officials at the scene.

The fire on Pilot Mountain, just outside Winston-Salem, North Carolina, started on Saturday.

By Sunday, the fire, known as the Grindstone Fire, had grown to more than 100 acres and forced state officials to close Pilot Mountain State Park while crews worked to contain the blaze.

Due to increased fire risk, the North Carolina Forest Service issued a ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits statewide effective at 5 p.m. Monday until further notice.

"It is fall wildfire season in North Carolina, and we are seeing wildfire activity increase due to dry conditions," said 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."

Under North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning in the affected counties, regardless of whether a permit was previously issued.

Officials say the park is likely to remain closed for the rest of the week.

The wildfire then grew about 75 acres overnight, burning a total of about 300 acres. But by Monday afternoon, officials said the fire had burned about 500 acres.

Currently, the fire is not contained but was still well within the existing containment lines, according to Christie Adams, of the North Carolina Forest Service.

It's unknown if the fire has impacted any buildings or if anyone has been injured.