Deadly AZ Fire Balloons to 13 Square Miles; Bodies Recovered

By: AP Email
By: AP Email
MGN Online

MGN Online

YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) - The bodies of 19 members of an elite firefighting crew killed after being overrun by an Arizona wildfire have been retrieved from the mountain where they died.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo now says all 19 were from the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots. Authorities earlier said one of the men wasn't a crew member.

One man who belonged to the 20-person team survived because he was moving the crew's truck.

The crew was found late Sunday afternoon with their emergency fire shelters deployed. They'd been battling a blaze moving toward Yarnell, a small town about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

The bodies were retrieved Monday near the town.

The fire made it into Yarnell and destroyed an unknown number of homes and businesses. It has burned more than 13 square miles.

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YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) - A wildfire that killed nearly 20 members of an elite fire crew trying to help protect homes in a small central Arizona town has quadrupled in size, to 13 square miles.

Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said Monday that 18 "hotshot" fire crews are now battling the blaze, approximately 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, and more are expected.

On Sunday, the lightning-sparked fire killed 18 members of a 20-member hotshot crew based in nearby Prescott. Reichling says one other person also was killed but has not been identified.

The fire on Sunday spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, destroying dozens of homes and sending hundreds fleeing from the community of Yarnell.

Reichling says the blaze is now at 8,374 acres, with zero containment.

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DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (AP) - President Barack Obama says the deaths of 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona wildfire are a heartbreaking reminder that emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day while rushing toward danger.

Obama, who spoke from Africa on Monday, added that America's thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

He said, quote, "We are heartbroken about what happened."

Obama says his administration is prepared to help Arizona investigate how the deaths happened. He predicted the incident will force government leaders to answer broader questions about how they handle increasingly destructive and deadly wildfires.

The firefighters, members of an elite crew fighting a forest fire northwest of Phoenix, were overtaken Sunday by a fast-moving blazed fueled by hot winds. Some 200 homes also were destroyed.


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