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View Full Version : 19 firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire were part of elite 'Hotshot' crew



SGT Rock
2013-07-01, 08:14
The 19 firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona were members of an elite crew known for battling the region’s worst fires, including two earlier this season before all but one member of the team died in the deadliest U.S. wildfire for firefighters in decades.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said the 19 firefighters, whose names had not been released, were part of the city’s fire department. Before the fire near Yarnell, the group — one of 13 Arizona Hotshot crews — had been profiled in local media last year as they prepared for the fire season and this year as they took on a blaze near Prescott earlier this month.


"The Hot Shots may be fighting the fire with fire," Prescott firefighter and spokesman Wade Ward told the Prescott Daily Courier in an interview last week. "They may be removing the fuels from the fire, or building a containment line that might be a trigger point for farther down the line."


Fraijo told reporters during a news conference late Sunday that 22 firefighters were injured and 8 required hospitalization. He described the fire, which started after a lightning strike Friday, as a fast-moving blaze fueled by hot, dry conditions. Temperatures reached into the triple digits across the state Sunday with a similar forecast expected for Monday.

"This is as dark a day as I can remember," Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement. "It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred, but the essence we already know in our hearts: fighting fires is dangerous work. The risk is well-known to the brave men and women who don their gear and do battle against forest and flame.

"When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen, and prayers for the families and friends left behind. God bless them all."

President Obama, currently traveling in Africa, released a statement praising the firefighters as "heroes — highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet."

The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

U.S. wildfire disasters date back more than two centuries and include tragedies like the 1949 Mann Gulch fire near Helena, Mont., that killed 13, or the Rattlesnake blaze four years later that claimed 15 firefighters in Southern California.

State forestry spokesman Art Morrison told the Associated Press that the firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught in the fire. An estimated 200 homes were also destroyed by the blaze, which fed on dry grass near the communities of Yarnell and Grand Isla.

The sheriff's office has notified residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell to evacuate.

Earlier Sunday, the fire prompted the evacuation of at least 50 homes in the Buckhorn, Model Creek and Double A Bar Ranch areas about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

The wildfire also forced the closure of about 15 miles of state Route 89, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced. The department did not have an estimate of how long the closure would last but advised drivers to use U.S. 93 or Interstate 17 as alternate routes.

Fire information officer Mike Reichling said earlier Sunday that no homes had been lost in the fire northwest of the Yavapai County community of Yarnell.

Early estimates put the number of evacuated homes at 120, but the number was downgraded by officials closer to the fire.

Reichling says the blaze was within a mile of some homes but was burning away from them.

The Yarnell Hill Fire prompted evacuations in the Model Creek, Buckhorn and Double A Bar Ranch areas about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. The blaze also was within 200 yards of the Model Creek School.
Crews cleared brush and did other work around the evacuated homes to help guard against the fire.

On Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office called residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell, telling them to evacuate.

Two hundred firefighters are now working at the fire, but an additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

The Sheriff's Office said the Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott.

In another Arizona fire, a 2-acre blaze that started at a motorcycle salvage yard and spread to a trailer park has destroyed five mobile homes in the Gila County community of Rye, located more than 130 miles east of Yarnell.

Gila County Health and Emergency Services Director Michael O'Driscoll said no one was injured in Rye.

The fire was ignited Saturday night at All Bikes Sales located off Highway 87. It spread to neighboring federal Forest Service land but was fully contained within 12 hours of its start.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Red Cross says seven adults and two children were staying at a shelter set up for people who were evacuated.


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/01/19-firefighters-killed-battling-arizona-blaze/#ixzz2Xn7mhNvN

Lets remember them and their families.

Kanga
2013-07-01, 08:25
Amen.

D'Artagnan
2013-07-01, 09:09
Incredibly sad.

shadowmoss
2013-07-01, 16:34
This is close here. So close that a co-worker last night was on the phone most of the night with his wife as she could see the glow of the fire from their house. We watched the news on the TV in the room so kept up to date. So sad to lose so many brave men. I am revisiting my own evacuation plans, even though I live in the city. When something like this happens so close to home it makes a deep impression.

Bearpaw
2013-07-01, 22:44
My prayers are with their families. This is such a terrible loss.