Arizona wildfire that killed 19 appears to be burning out
More than 600 firefighters are building breaks to contain the 8,400-acre fire, but evacuated residents still haven't been able to return home.
People attend a memorial service at Prescott High School for 19 firefighters who perished battling a fast-moving wildfire in Prescott, Az., July 2, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
Phoenix, Arizona (Reuters) -- An Arizona wildfire that left 19 firefighters dead as it swept over rugged mountainous terrain is slowly burning itself out, though hundreds of evacuated residents remain out of their homes and hot spots still exist, fire officials said on Thursday.
The fire is expected to continue to shrink over the July 4 holiday as more than 600 firefighters dig breaks to contain the 8,400-acre blaze.
The 19 men died on Sunday as they battled the fast-moving fire as it menaced a small town near Prescott, in central Arizona. The fire swept over them, forcing the men to scramble into individual emergency foil shelters -- a last resort for wildland firefighters caught amid flames.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office determined that all 19 died of accidental fire-related injuries. Fire-related injuries can involve burns or inhalation problems or both, said Maricopa County Communications Director Cari Gerchick.
"I can't tell you who had what, who had one or the other or both. All of those details will be available when the autopsy reports are released in a few months," Gerchick told Reuters.
No other information was available on Thursday about the deaths, she said.
The last known photo of the men, all members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots, shows one man standing and two resting on boulders on a hillside overlooking the smoking inferno. Andrew Ashcraft, 29, who died in the fire, texted the picture to his wife shortly before the fire overtook the crew, according to a caption on the crew's Facebook page.
As of Wednesday, The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, Club 100 of Arizona and the Wildland Firefighter Foundation had collectively raised $700,000 for the families of the victims, according to YarnellFallenFirefighters.com, a website launched this week to provide information about the tragedy.
For those who wnat to write negitive comments when was the last time you hung it all out there to save someones elses liife or property.
Right or wrong, they believed in what they were doing or they wouldn't have been out there. My thoughts are with their families, mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers, children, wives and friends.
God Bless these fallen heroes and may they rest in peace. I also ask the Lord to make it easy on their families and on their loved ones to help them find a way to soothe their pain and settle down while they are grieving.
I tell everybody here who cast doubt about what happened that using words like "if, would or should" does not make any difference now. The tragedy already took place. No one who was not their with these heroes can tell exactly what happened. However, I hope those in charge would learn a lesson from all the circumstances that took place, and if there were mistakes made, so that we won't have more casualties in the future. I am not an expert to say if in situations like this forest fire, we should try to combat it or leave it burn out on its own. Therefore, I ask those who are experts to give their advice to those in charge and to all firefighters in the country to prevent this from happening in the future.. As the saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure".
When are we going to learn that you don't put foresr fires......they run out of fuel and go out on their own.
Put a fire zone around you forest community and let the damn things burn.