More than 1000 acres burned at NC's largest state park - | WBTV Charlotte

More than 1000 acres burned at NC's largest state park

(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV) (Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
BURKE COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Crews as far away as Florida will come Saturday to help knock out the wildfire burning at South Mountains State Park. It’s North Carolina’s largest state park.

The fire started Sunday with about 150 acres burning. Late Friday evening, state officials say that number grew to nearly 1500 acres burned. Fighting the fire has been tough.

"The terrain, the uncertain weather and the dry conditions," NC Division of Park and Recreation Public Information Officer Charlie Peek said. "Have kind of outpaced us a little bit."

Peek tells WBTV so far no clue what caused the wildfire. All he knows is it started near the Chestnut Knob hiking trail. He believes someone near the trail may have started it accidentally.

"You can speculate maybe it was a manmade cause of some fashion," he said.  "Cigarette, a spark from some of their equipment."

This is the first time South Mountains State Park has closed because of a wildfire. The fire shut down two state parks and six other state parks closed so rangers from those areas could leave and assist the efforts at South Mountains State Park. 

One ranger tells WBTV he just wrapped up cleaning efforts from Hurricane Matthew, now he is working on another problem.

"My county got about 12 inches," Ranger Chris Meggs said. "And we had several feet of water flowing through many areas, and the Western end of the area is dry as a bone."

Crews will work while it is day. The job becomes too dangerous at night because it's tough to navigate the burning area.

"Once sunset," Peek said. "We pretty much sit down and watch for any particular problems that jump up overnight."

Rangers say so far about 40 campsite reservations  for this weekend at South Mountains State Park were cancelled because of the wildfire.

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