19 Firefighters Killed Battling Arizona Blaze

Source: Jackee Coe, Laurie Merrill, William Cummings and Kim Hjelmgaard / USA Today

YARNELL, Ariz. — Nineteen elite firefighters who died battling a fast-moving wildfire here Sunday in the country’s worst wildfire disaster in 80 years have been hailed by President Obama as “heroes.”

In a statement released early Monday as he prepared to travel to Tanzania from South Africa, Obama said, “Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters.”

Gusting winds and dry grass 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 have been destroyed.

Early Monday, local media reported the fire was zero percent contained.

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