Devasting Arizona wildfire kills 19 firefighters from elite 'Hotshot' unit - and it's still blazing
Wildfire prompted evacuations of at least 50 homes
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, was published in 2014.
Monday 01 July 2013
A devastating wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 fire-fighters from an elite 'Hotshot' crew based in Prescott, Arizona has engulfed more than 8,370 acres, according to state officials.
The continuing blaze in Yarnell, around 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, has already forced 600 people from their homes. Arizona's Incident Management Team have warned that gusty winds and high temperatures on Monday could result in “erratic” shifts in the fire, which has grown quickly in size from about 1,000 acres on Sunday. No single wildfire has killed so many US fire-fighters since 25 died in a fire in Griffith Park in Los Angeles in 1933. The deadliest such incident in recent years was the Storm King fire in Colorado, which killed 14 fire-fighters in 1994.
This weekend’s Arizona inferno wiped out almost the entire Prescott fire crew, which was established in 2002 and known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. A recent profile in the Prescott Daily Courier described the Hotshots as “an elite ground fire-fighting crew known for their innovative problem-solving and history of safe, aggressive fire suppression.”
The average age of the firefighters was 22, the Department of Public Safety said on Monday.
The team is accustomed to working long hours in highly dangerous conditions, often hiking miles with heavy packs to battle wildfires in isolated areas. They had recently tackled blazes elsewhere in Arizona and New Mexico. Arizona state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told the Associated Press the unit had been trapped by the unpredictable blaze on Sunday afternoon and erected special, tent-like fire shelters to try to protect themselves from the flames.
The Yarnell fire is thought to have been sparked by a lightning strike last Friday, and has since destroyed dozens of buildings and forced the evacuation of at least 50 homes. It began as a major heatwave struck the US Southwest over the weekend, and was reportedly exacerbated by gusty winds and low humidity in the region.
In recent months, similar wildfires have ravaged swathes of Arizona’s neighbouring states, Colorado and California, following one of the driest winters in memory. This year’s fire season is on track to be worse than 2012, during which more than nine million acres burned across the US.
- 1 Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
- 3 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 The 20 toughest job interview questions in the world
Caitlyn Jenner car crash: Driver who died in collision sued by surviving passengers for $18.5m
Pictures show young Palestinian girl biting Israeli soldier trying to detain boy during West Bank protests
Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...