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A group of firefighters battling a wildfire in Arizona were unaccounted for Sunday night, an official with the Arizona State Forestry Division said
Prescott Fire Department confirmed 19 firefighters have died while battling the Yarnell Hill fire on Sunday night. They're part of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hot Shots.
The wildfire was likely caused by a lightning strike Saturday night.
The Yarnell Hill fire, about 35 miles southwest of Prescott, has burned about 1,300 acres and forced the evacuation of 50 homes.
When the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain wildland firefighting crew members found out that they had become the first municipal Hotshot crew in the nation, they took a moment to tear the little “t” off their rig and then immediately set off on a rugged hike to the fire line in the heart of California’s Klamath National Forest.
That “t” stood for “trainee,” a label they had worn for two years while working hard to earn the elite title of Type I Interagency Hotshot Crew.
This season alone, they responded to 13 wildfires in four states while also helping Prescott residents create wildfire-defensible space on 95 acres around 12 homes. And they spent 2,000 hours in the classroom.
By the time they heard the big news last month via a call from the home department, they had been training for five years and waiting 3.5 months to hear whether the federal government had approved their request for certification