Sunday, June 30, 2013

Arizona wildfire tragedy claims 19 firefighters

In what may be the largest loss in Hotshot history, tragedy struck Sunday night as officials confirmed that 19 Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters were killed while battling the Yarnell Hill wildfire that has consumed over 1,000 acres.

The news brings to light the heartbreaking reality of fighting dangerous western wildfires.

The local Fox affiliate reported more about the fire:
The wildfire was likely caused by a lightning strike Saturday night.

The Yarnell Hill fire, about 35 miles southwest of Prescott, has burned about 1,300 acres and forced the evacuation of 50 homes.

The fire started Friday and has not yet burned down any structures, but Sunday night firefighters pushed the blaze back away from communities, hoping to keep the blaze from overtaking any homes.
Reports are that a flashover killed all 19 even though they deployed their fire shelters.

It is reminiscent of the July 2, 1994, wildfire on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, also known as the South Canyon fire, when 14 Hotshots were killed. It, too, was started by a lightning strike. Firefighters were trapped when winds shifted in the extremely rugged terrain.

More details about the breaking Arizona fire from USA Today. Prayers for the families and friends of those who were lost.

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