19 firefighters die battling US fire: official

Yarnell, Arizona:  Hot winds blew a U.S. wildfire out of control, killing 19 elite firefighters in the country's deadliest wildfire involving firefighters for at least 30 years.

The specially trained "hotshot" firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield them from flames and heat - when they were caught near an Arizona town, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

"The entire hot shot crew had been killed by the fire," Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said.

The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres (809 hectares) on Sunday amid high temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of more than 50 homes in several communities.

The National Fire Protection Association previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire in Colorado. It killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.
Story First Published: July 01, 2013 08:44 IST

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