They were part of an elite squad who confronted wildfires up close, setting up barriers to stop their destructive spread.
But the inferno blazing across central Arizona proved too much.
The 19 firefighters were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. It is the deadliest blaze for firefighters since the 9/11 attacks.
The “hotshot” firefighters 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.
The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.
Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo also said that 19 firefighters had been killed by the fire.
“The entire hot shot crew had been killed by the fire,” he said. He said that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic happened.”Share