Cause of fire on iconic North Carolina mountain determined


PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WGHP/NEXSTAR) — Fire officials at Pilot Mountain learned the cause of the fire that continues to burn, marking five days of flames atop the North Carolina landmark.

Officials say the cause is a campfire in an undesignated area. There is no info at this time on the party responsible for the campfire.

As of Wednesday afternoon, about 1,050 acres of the 3,800-acre park have burned.

The fire is 50% contained.

The photos below come from NEXSTAR station WGHP’s Chris Weaver on the scene of the Pilot Mountain fire earlier this week.

The mountain is certainly an iconic landmark for so many travelers from surrounding states including West Virginia. Hundreds of people have commented over the past few days to the StormTracker meteorologists social media posts expressing their concern over one of their favorite landmarks.

Sample of comments from Facebook followers in the WOWK area regarding the Pilot Mountain Fire

The following is a timeline of the fire compiled from NEXSTAR station WGHP FOX 8:



According to officials, the fire started at the Grindstone Trail. The call reporting the fire came in around 5 p.m. on Saturday. The NC Forest Service believes the fire was human-made, but the exact cause is unclear.


Crews were called off Saturday night but returned Sunday morning with more than 30 firefighters from area agencies, NC Forest Service personnel and NC Park members.

The fire had destroyed about 60 acres by about 9 a.m. Sunday, increasing to about 200 acres by 4 p.m.

Crews worked to prep around infrastructure and buildings in the park area.


Planes were in the air at 10 a.m Monday., and more crews joined those already fighting the fire Monday from southern North Carolina counties, as well as crews from east of Raleigh.

An official with the NC Forest Service says that an estimated 500 acres burned as of 11 a.m.

A new strategy could change the course of the Pilot Mountain fire. Firefighters began helping the fire burn in a controlled manner, working to direct the fire down the mountain to the fire containment line. Officials say this will take a couple of days.

Monday night, 29 NC Forest Service members set up an incident command post in an old funeral home about seven miles from the park entrance.

About 60 firefighters are working the fire.

A time-lapse video shows the progression of the fire burning on Pilot Mountain. The video, taken by Daniel Whittaker, shows flames burning up the side of the mountain overnight up to Pilot Mountain’s famous knob.


The fire was recorded at 572 acres burned on Tuesday morning.

By Tuesday afternoon, it had consumed more than 1,000 acres.

There are 57 fire crew members on Pilot Mountain.

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