As fire continued to envelope one of North Carolina’s most recognizable places, the N.C. Forest Service issued a statewide ban on open burning and canceled all burning permits as of 5 p.m. Monday.
Windy, dry weather has frustrated efforts to fight the wildfire at Pilot Mountain State Park north of Winston-Salem. Those same factors prompted state officials to ban open burning of leaves, branches and other plant materials, including camp fires.
“With these ongoing conditions, a statewide burn ban is necessary to reduce the risk of fires starting and spreading quickly,” state Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a written statement. “Our top priority is always to protect lives, property and forestland across the state.”
A dry cold front brought gusty winds to the state Monday. Winds are expected to become calm by Tuesday night, but there’s no rain in the forecast until late Sunday.
The burn ban does not apply to fires within 100 feet of an occupied house or apartment building, which fall under the jurisdiction of local governments. The state Forest Service has asked county fire marshals to consider local bans on open burning as well.
Anyone who violates the burn ban faces a $100 fine plus $183 court costs, according to the state. In addition, anyone who sets a fire that gets out of control may be liable for the costs of putting it out.
The fire at Pilot Mountain was first reported Saturday evening and continued to burn Monday. It had consumed about 300 acres in the park, which is known for Big Pinnacle, the distinctive, round 2,421-foot peak that towers over U.S. 52.
The park is expected to remain closed through the week.