POSTED: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 5:27pm
UPDATED: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 8:01am
PHOENIX, Az — The Arizona wildfire killed 19 Hotshot firefighters Sunday afternoon.
The fallen firefighters were the most elite and trained team in the nation.
The out of control fire, 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, killed 19 members of the 20 member Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot crew.
"19 firefighters were killed in what's probably the worst disaster that's taken place in Yarnell history here in the state of Arizona," said Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo.
The Hotshot crew battles wildfires on the front line.
They usually hike for miles with chainsaws and backpacks with heavy gear to build containment lines and to protect homes from fires.
According to reports, the 19 men tried to protect themselves from the blaze by setting up tent like structures called fire shelters.
But, it was not enough.
The fire was sparked by lightening, and the drought like conditions made it worse.
"Fire can be mostly predictable, but it can transition so quickly. It can be on the surface, it can be fairly innocent than transition to the crowns of the trees maybe from a wind gust nearby, passing thunderstorm, something in the environment changes and the fire changes," said Brad Smith, Wildland Fire Analyst for the Texas A & M Forest Service.
Smith says here in Texas, we have type two handcrews because of our flat terrain.
"We don't have a Hotshot crew in Texas because we don't have the complex terrain, the mountainous terrain most of our fires we use resources like fire engines four wheel drive fire engines we use bulldozers and we can access most fire with that equipment."