Arizona wildfire single deadliest incident for American firefighters since attack on World Trade Center
THIS is shocking:
On Sunday evening, nineteen firefighters were killed when they were fighting a wildfire southwest of Prescott, AZ after winds shifted direction. This is the single deadliest incident for U.S. firefighters since the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
The 19 firefighters were part of the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots, a highly-trained, specialist crew founded in 2002 that had fought wildfires across Arizona and New Mexico in recent months. There were 20 members of the team, which is based in Prescott, AZ. Nineteen fire shelters — essentially tin-foil tents — were found deployed in the area where the firefighters were found. Authorities planned to release more details at 10 a.m. Monday morning.
A lightning strike set the fire in motion on Friday night, and has grown to encompass 2,000 acres as drought conditions and a record-breaking heat wave settled into the region.
This weekend, the western United States has been grappling with a brutal, record-breaking heat wave which saw Phoenix, AZ hit 119 on Saturday. Much of the region was under heat advisory as the monsoons that often give respite at this time of year failed to do so.
Daytime temperatures in the region not expected to drop below 110 degrees until Friday.
Most of Arizona — and the rest of the Western U.S. — is experiencing at least severe drought. Earlier this month 900 firefighters battled two historic wildfires in New Mexico. Budget cuts due to sequestration at the national level were expected to leave the federal government $115 million short of normal firefighting capacity. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, whose department was trying to shift funds around from fire prevention to fire suppression efforts, said in May, “I hope we can get through this fire season without any fatalities.”