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Reader Jim Henderson submitted this photo of the Lookout Mountain brow fire.

This story was updated to correct the spelling of Warren Bielenberg's name.

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A photo submitted by reader James Henderson shows firefighters' efforts to quell a fire on Lookout Mountain.
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A photo submitted by reader James Henderson shows firefighters' efforts to quell a fire on Lookout Mountain.
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Firefighters gather before battling the wildfire on Lookout Mountain.
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A photo submitted by reader James Henderson shows the beginning of the fire Monday, July 11, on Lookout Mountain. A house is seen in the upper left corner of the photo.

After nearly a week of battling high temperatures and difficult terrain, firefighters have almost extinguished a stubborn wildfire beneath the cliffs on the west brow of Lookout Mountain, a fire official said Monday.

The fire, which began July 11, is 95 percent contained, according to fire information officer Warren Bielenberg.

The wildfire's location, at the base of the steep bluffs below Covenant College, has made it hard for firefighters to reach the area of the flames.

A helicopter equipped with an infrared camera scanned the scene Monday morning and identified 12 hotspots that firefighters were focusing on Monday, Bielenberg said.

Fire crews were working with volunteers from West Brow Fire and Rescue.

"They're supporting us with tankers, pumping water down so crews can use 2,000 feet of hose they have laid going down the side of the mountain for mopping up," he said.

The fire was contained to an area of about 20 acres, but it was hard to extinguish because it was burning in a thick layer of debris at the foot of the cliffs. Firefighters had to be pulled back on several occasions because of the threat of lightning from possible thunderstorms, but only once did rain fall on the area, and it had little effect on dousing the fire, Bielenberg said.

"We had about a quarter inch of rain on the fire on Saturday, but when the crews went back in after the rain, it had actually made it more difficult because the footing was more slippery," he said.

Depending on which way the fire was heading, smoke wafted close to homes north of the fire, on Frontier Bluff Road, and south of the fire in the Maggie Cliff subdivision.

While no one was evacuated, fire crews worked over the weekend to clear debris in an area on Frontier Bluff between several houses and the flames, to give firefighters what Bielenberg called "defensible space the firefighters could use and get fire vehicles back in there."

Some 69 firefighters were on the scene Monday, Bielenberg said, but that number will begin to decline.

"There will be a skeleton crew of [National] Park Service firefighters who will remain here to monitor the fire area," he said.

Officials believe the fire began when embers from an illegal campfire on the edge of the cliff fell into the underbrush below the bluff. Fire officials are still investigating the incident and said they will press charges if they can locate the person or people responsible for the campfire.

Contact staff writer Steve Johnson at 423-757-6673, sjohnson@timesfreepress.com, on Twitter @stevejohnsonTFP, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noogahealth.

This story was updated July 18 at 11:35 p.m.

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