Deadly Ariz. wildfire balloons to 13 square miles (VIDEO)
Originally published July 1, 2013 at 3:45 a.m., updated July 1, 2013 at 10:19 a.m.
YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) — A wildfire that killed nearly 20 members of an elite fire crew trying to help protect homes in a small central Arizona town has quadrupled in size, to 13 square miles.
Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said Monday that 18 “hotshot” fire crews are now battling the blaze, approximately 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, and more are expected.
On Sunday, the lightning-sparked fire killed 18 members of a 20-member hotshot crew based in nearby Prescott. Reichling says one other person also was killed but has not been identified.
The fire on Sunday spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, destroying dozens of homes and sending hundreds fleeing from the community of Yarnell.
Reichling says the blaze is now at 8,374 acres, with zero containment.
YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) — A fire information officer says 19 firefighters are unaccounted for while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in a central Arizona community.
Mike Reichling told the Arizona Republic that 20 firefighters were involved in a “serious incident.”
The newspaper reports that one of the firefighters has been located.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office has notified residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell to evacuate.
Earlier Sunday, the fast-moving fire prompted evacuations of 50 homes in the Buckhorn, Model Creek and Double A Bar Ranch areas about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.
In the afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the evacuations to include residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell.
The wildfire also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced. The department did not have an estimate of how long the closure would last but advised drivers to use U.S. 93 or Interstate 17 as alternate routes.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.
The Yarnell Hill Fire now covers nearly 2,000 acres, according to the newspaper.
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