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July 01, 2013

19 Firefighters Killed Fighting Terrible Arizona Wildfires

It's the deadliest calamity for firefighters since 9/11.

The fast-moving wildfire that killed 19 firefighters here Sunday is now more than quadruple in size, as crews battle triple-digit heat and erratic winds in an effort to contain the blaze.

Eratic winds and dry grasses fed the blaze as it tore through the communities of Yarnell and Glen Isla, about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. An estimated 200 homes and many businesses had been destroyed as the lightning-sparked fire spread to nearly 8,400 acres from 2,000 acres overnight.

More than 400 firefighters were trying to contain the fire on three flanks, but officials said there was "zero containment" early Monday afternoon. "This is a nightmare scenario for firefighting: thunderstorms producing little rainfall, unpredictable, shifting winds, and, of course, lightning strikes," says Weather Channel meteorologist Jon Erdman.

The firefighters, trapped by the hellish blaze, sought refuge in their fire shelters, which are portable individual tents which can reflect away some amount of heat and keep some cool air inside. But the shelters failed, possibly because wind batted them around.


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