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Gatlinburg wildfires death toll continues to rise

GATLINBURG, TN - NOVEMBER 30: The remains of a home smolder in the wake of a wildfire November 30, 2016 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and over 100 houses and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Drought conditions and high winds helped the fire spread through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

The death toll caused by the wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tenn., has climbed to 13, according to local officials in the Eastern Tennessee town.

Thankfully that number hasn't risen since Friday morning after it continued to rise throughout the week. In addition, 85 people have sought treatment for fire-related injuries, according to WBIR-TV.

Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said Friday that crews were expected to finish their "soft search" of the nearly 1,000 fire damaged buildings in Gatlinburg by 7 p.m. Friday.

Waters spoke as business owners and home owners were returning to the city of Gatlinburg for the first time since the wildfires began damaging the area Monday.

More from WBIR:

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. those who could prove they had ties to evacuated and closed areas in the town were allowed through a checkpoint to look at their property.

The checkpoint, however, caused long lines, according to Gatlinburg City manager Cindy Ogle. Residents and business owners will continue to be able to pass through the checkpoint during similar hours through the weekend and early next week. The city's curfew remains in effect through Saturday.

The fire, which burned more than 15,000 acres, is believed to be caused by arson. Federal investigators are searching for the person or people that caused it.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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