Party Rock fire 100 percent contained, out-of-state crews head home
Tuesday's rain meant the end of a long, hard job for nearly 200 firefighters working the Party Rock fire. Now that the fire is 100 percent contained, they'll soon be headed home.
The Oregon Incident Management Team will return control of the fire over to the North Carolina Forest Service Wednesday morning. The forest service will continue to patrol Party Rock fire for a few more weeks.
"What this rain has done is helped cool off some of the remaining hot spots on the fire. And it makes us feel a lot more confident about the fire as we are leaving," Phillip Truitt, a public information officer for the fire, said.
While Truitt is heading home to Texas, fellow firefighter Bryson Hall said he's looking forward to getting back to Arizona and the warmer weather
"I would probably say the biggest challenge for us being from Arizona was the cold weather. So, it got really cold a couple of the days," Hall said.
Truitt and Hall said it's been a rough three weeks fighting the Party Rock fire that grew to over 7,000 acres, and now costs over $7.5 million.
In total, Truitt said more than 900 firefighters from 25 different states worked the Party Rock fire.
But there is one positive thing the firefighters News 13 talked with say they will always remember.
"It's been really great, the people of this town and community," Hall said. "You know, they keep thanking us, but we're thankful to them just for the hospitality and everything they've provided for us."
Firefighters mentioned the free meals, a free haircut, and being able to sleep in a hotel instead of in a tent.
"I have fought fire all over this country. This is the first time I've seen a community and a state support the fire crews this much," Truitt said.
But for people like Kathryn Proctor who lived and worked near the fire, there is no way they can thank these firefighters enough.
"Just a well of emotions. It kind of makes me teary. That they saved everything about North Carolina that meant something to me. This whole town is my life and my father's life, and I'm just forever grateful we got to keep our mountains and our homes," Proctor said.