19 Firefighters Killed In Arizona Wildfire

The 19 firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona were members of an elite crew  known for battling the region’s worst fires, including two earlier this season  before all but one member of the team died in the deadliest U.S. wildfire for  firefighters in decades.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said the 19 firefighters, whose names had not  been released, were part of the city’s fire department.

“We’re devastated,” Fraijo said late Sunday. “We just lost 19 of the finest  people you’ll ever meet.”

Before the fire near Yarnell, the group — one of 13 Arizona Hotshot crews —  had been profiled in local media last year as they prepared for the fire season  and this year as they took on a blaze near Prescott earlier this month.

“The Hot Shots may be fighting the fire with fire,” Prescott firefighter and  spokesman Wade Ward told the Prescott Daily Courier in an interview last week.  “They may be removing the fuels from the fire, or building a containment line  that might be a trigger point for farther down the line.”

Ward told the newspaper members of Hotshot crews are highly trained  individuals who work long hours in extreme conditions. The crews, which number  roughly 100 in the U.S., often hike for miles into the wilderness with chainsaws  and backpacks stuffed with heavy gear to build lines of protection between  people and raging fires.