19 firefighters die in US blaze

Washington, July 1 (IANS) Wild fire killed 19 firefighters Sunday in Arizona, forestry officials of the US state confirmed.

It was the biggest ever firefighter tragedy in the state as the wild fire in the Yarnell Hill ripped through half of the town, according to reports reaching Los Angeles.

Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman, was quoted by Arizona media as saying that the 19 firefighters were found in an area that also had fire shelters, reported Xinhua.

Some of those found were inside a shelter, which is typically used as a last resort to withstand the fire as it blows over. Some of the crew members were found outside the shelters.

About half of the town’s 500 homes were damaged by the fire which is currently difficult to be contained and has spread to 2,000 acres. Many local residents were evacuated to safer towns.

The Yarnell Hill Fire, which started at about 5:30 p.m. Friday was moving very fast. About 250 firefighters fought against it Sunday.

High temperature in the summer season and wind added to the difficulties in containing the fires. It reached 38 Celsius degrees Sunday afternoon while the wind blew at 22 miles per hour.

Helicopters have already been used to drop water.

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