Nineteen firefighters battling a massive wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona have died. The Yarnell Hill Fire started on Friday, likely from a lightning strike, and has since burned over 2,000 acres and forced the evacuation of at least 50 homes.
The Prescott Fire Department confirmed the deaths late Sunday night. We'll update as more information becomes available.
UPDATE 11:30 PM: The Daily Courier reports that all 18 were from the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots crew. Only one member of the crew survived and is reportedly injured, though the extent of the injuries aren't yet known.
And there are now reports of a 19th death:
BREAKING: AZ Forestry confirms 19 bodies found, SE side of fire. Some in shelters. 18 from Prescott hot shot crew. 19th identity unknown.— Michelle Lee (@myhlee) July 1, 2013
UPDATE 11:35 PM: An Arizona forestry official has confirmed that 19 firefighters were killed. All were reportedly part of the Prescott Fire Department.
UPDATE 11:54 PM: The Daily Courier profiled the Granite Mountain Hotshots just last week. From the article:
"Their crews of 20 are typically among the first ones in there - they're on the front lines, and take a direct line of attack to the fire," [spokesman] Ward said.
The surviving member of the crew suffered burns to majority of his body, according to reports on NBC 12 News. The station is also reporting that over 250 homes were destroyed in the fire.
UPDATE 12:36 AM: Another Daily Courier profile of the crew, from 2008.
UPDATE 12:51 AM: At a press conference, the chief of the Prescott Fire Department said that the one survivor from the hotshot crew was not with his team at the time. Earlier reports about his injuries were apparently false.
The 19 killed makes this the deadliest wildfire in 80 years, and the worst loss of life for firefighters since 9/11.
[Image via AP]
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