19 firefighters in Arizona were killed in Varnell wildfire. Damn!
(Reuters) - A
team of 19 firefighters were killed battling a fast-moving wildfire that
has forced the evacuation of two small towns in central Arizona on
Sunday, fire officials said.
The firefighters perished in
the so-called Yarnell Hill Fire, near the small town of Yarnell about 80
miles northwest of Phoenix, the U.S. Wildland Fire Aviation service
said in a Facebook post.
been confirmed that 19 wildland firefighters have lost their lives on
the Yarnell Hill fire Arizona," the post said, adding that the agency
was asking "for prayers for the families and friends of these brave men
Art Morrison of the
Arizona State Forestry Commission told CNN the firefighters, members of
an elite "hot shot" team, lost their lives Sunday afternoon when they
were overtaken by swiftly moving flames.
was a hand crew, a hot shot crew. In normal circumstances, when you're
digging fire lines, you make sure you have a good escape route, and you
have a safety zone set up. Evidently, their safety zone wasn't big
enough, and the fire just overtook them. By the time the other
firefighters got in, they didn't survive," Morrison said.
blaze has charred about 1,000 acres of tinder-dry chaparral and
grasslands since erupting Friday. Heat wave conditions have plagued the
Southwest, prompting the evacuation of scores of homes near Yarnell,
fire officials said.
television news footage showed an unbroken line of flames stretching
along a ridgeline, sending gray brown smoke billowing into the evening
Authorities ordered the
evacuation of Yarnell and the adjoining town of Peeples Valley, alerting
residents through reverse 911 emergency calls to homes and sending
sheriff's deputies door to door, according to the InciWeb fire news site
of the U.S. Forest Service.
The two towns are home to roughly 1,000 people.
Daily Courier Prescott newspaper said the dead were members of the
Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots team.