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19 Firefighters Perish in Horrific Ariz. Wildfire

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July 1, 2013 by   - () Leave a Comment

The Granite Mountain Hot Shots of Prescott, Ariz. Nineteen of 20 crew members perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Coconino National Forest on Sunday (June 30). Photo from Standing With Arizona Facebook page.

Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday (June 30) in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 40 years – and the worst since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, standingwitharizona.com reported.

The firefighters were members of a “hotshot” crew – the ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’, tasked with digging a firebreak and creating an escape route. ”A hotshot crew are the elite firefighters,” state forestry spokesman Art Morrison said. “They’re usually a 20-person crew, and they’re the ones who actually go in and dig the fire line, cut the brush to make a fuel break. And so they would be as close to the fire as they felt they safely could.”

The red flame in center of map shows the location of the Yarnell Hill Fire that claimed 19 lives on Sunday (June 30).

“In normal circumstances, when you’re digging fire line, you make sure you have a good escape route, and you have a safety zone set up,” Morrison said. “Evidently, their safety zone wasn’t big enough, and the fire just overtook them.”

The crew were forced to deploy their fire shelters – tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat – when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell. However the flames overwhelmed this emergency protection, and 19 of 20 firefighters perished.

Stand With Arizona is not going to release the names of those who perished at this time out of respect for their families. But we wanted to give our readers some idea of who these brave souls were. Some of those who died today can be seen in the photo. God bless them all.

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