19 firefighters dead battling Arizona Yarnell wildfire

YARNELL, AZ. - Nineteen firefighters have died fighting a wildfire in northern Arizona.

The victims were part of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hot Shots, according to several media reports.  

ABC15 reported the town of Yarnell, Ariz., was on fire and half the buildings in the town have burned in the fire.

According to the Arizona Republic newspaper , one hospital was expecting injured eight firefighters.   Some of those will be airlifted to a Phoenix burn unit and others were being transported to a regional medical center.

The wildfire that sparked just southwest of Prescott after an apparent lightning strike has quickly grown to more than 2,000 acres Sunday forcing the evacuation of several communities.

Fire spokesman Mike Reichling said of the 500 structures in Yarnell, including homes, business and sheds, half of them have been destroyed in the fire. 

Reichling said there are currently 250 firefighters working the Yarnell Hill fire and there will be a total of 400 in the next few hours.

Earlier, there were reports of firefighters unaccounted for after being "surrounded by fire."

The wildfire sparked just southwest of Prescott after an apparent lightning strike quickly grew Sunday,  forcing the evacuation of several communities.

Fire officials said the "Yarnell Hill" wildfire is burning west of State Route 89, between Yarnell and Peeples Valley, and as more resources are being called in, an evacuation center has been set up at Yavapai Community College.

Officials say approximately 600 people are under mandatory evacuation.

Late reports coming in said structures in the town of Yarnell were burning. The wildfire is 0 percent contained.

Officials said the Yarnell Valley has been in a drought for about 10 years and the materials fueling the fire are very dry helping the fire spread fast.

Fourteen wildland firefighters died in a fast-moving fire on Storm King Mountain outside of Glenwood Springs in 1994. 

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