An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation's fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar, whose district covers Yarnell, issued the following statement late last night in response to the horrific news.
It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.
The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Residents huddled in shelters and bars, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.
“My heart weeps for those who lost their lives and were affected by today’s Yarnell Hill Fire. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost so much and the first responders battling this difficult situation. I urge others to join me in keeping those affected by this tragic fire in our thoughts and prayers. My office and I will continue to closely monitor the situation and remain in communication with emergency responders. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can be of assistance.”Many on Twitter gave their condolences and prayers.
"They died heroes and we'll miss them. We love them." Wife of fallen firefighter, Juliann Ashcraft, mother of 4— Rebekah L. Sanders (@RebekahLSanders) July 1, 2013
A hat hanging on the fence at Prescott Fire Station 7 above a bouquet of flowers... pic.twitter.com/QmByZuuYG6— Emma Jade (@emmajade12news) July 1, 2013
Hot shot crews are highly trained and used all over the West to combat wildfires every year. Just last week, the training and preparedness of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew was profiled by The Daily Courier.
May they rest in peace.