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Pilot Mountain wildfire burns 1,000+ acres, 90 percent contained

The Forestry Service said the fire was all started by campers in an area they never should have been in, lighting a campfire they never should have set
Pilot Mountain wildfire burns 1,000+ acres, 80 percent contained
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:26 PM EST
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PILOT MOUNTAIN, N.C. (WBTV) - The massive fire that burned more than 1,000 acres at Pilot Mountain State Park in North Carolina is more than 90 percent contained.

The Pilot Mountain fire has been burning since last Saturday.

The Forestry Service said the fire was all started by campers in an area they never should have been in, lighting a campfire they never should have set.

While crews are on the front lines fighting the flames, new technology might help better understand where this fire is going.

Like a battlefield commander, Hannah Thompson-Welch, from the Forestry Service goes over the game plan on the history of the Pilot Mountain fire and what they can do to stop it.

“We could experience a longer fire season then we’ve had in several years,” Thompson-Welch said.

Related: ‘Our firefighters have enough on their hands’: Pilot Mountain fire expected to burn for days

There is a need for support with many volunteer firefighters and responders working the Pilot Mountain wildfire

That’s due mainly to the dry and windy conditions North Carolina has been experiencing.

But new technology might help that fight.

“We did use one areal resource for scouting out and using intelligence from the air,” Thompson-Welch said.

Related: Wildfire at Pilot Mountain State Park expands to 1,000+ acres as it continues to burn for fourth day in N.C.

The Forestry Service used a new drone.

This one can not only scout out an area and report back in, it comes with a special surprise.

“We can drop what they call ping pong balls or dragon eggs,” Thompson-Welch said.

Technology called ‘dragon eggs’ used to fight Pilot Mountain fire, more than 80 percent of fire...
Technology called ‘dragon eggs’ used to fight Pilot Mountain fire, more than 80 percent of fire now contained(WBTV)

These dragon eggs are incendiary pellets that can be dropped from the drone.

When they hit the ground, a chemical reaction starts a spark, which starts a fire.

This can be used when trying to start a backfire or to clear out brush ahead of the main fire line.

“You’re using less people, so less people mean less injuries,” Thompson-Welch said.

Technology called ‘dragon eggs’ used to fight Pilot Mountain fire, more than 80 percent of fire...
Technology called ‘dragon eggs’ used to fight Pilot Mountain fire, more than 80 percent of fire now contained(WBTV)

But it still takes manpower on the front lines, and the town is grateful firefighters are there.

There’s been a constant stream of baked goods by neighbors showing up at the park.

“A lot of packaged goods is what’s being donated so far, lots of water, lots of Gatorade and lots of sweets,” said County Ranger Jimmy Holt.

One of those thankful businesses are the folks over at JoLo Wineries who had a view of the flames from their backyard.

“Local fire and rescue squad members are our local heroes, they did take care of the fire and kept it under control the whole entire time,” said Jerri Brown, General Manager of JoLo Wineries.

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