Arizona blaze that killed 19 firefighters fully contained
(CNN) — The Arizona blaze that killed 19 firefighters is 100% contained, authorities said late Wednesday, turning the page on a painful chapter for the community.
The 19 — members of the Prescott Fire Department’s elite Granite Mountain Hotshots wildfire crew — died while battling the Yarnell Hill fire, which consumed 8,400 acres northwest of Phoenix.
Officials have said it appears the 19 were forced to lie down under fire shelters, blankets meant to protect against flames and heat, as a last resort after the fire suddenly changed directions.
Earlier, authorities had said they expected the blaze to be fully contained by July 12. Firefighters completed their task a day ahead of projections.
Vice President Joe Biden honored the men at a memorial service this week in Arizona, saying they “rushed toward the flames as everyone else retreated.”
“These men were some of the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious, physically fit men in the world — an elite unit in every sense of that phrase,” Biden said. “… They raced to embrace life just like they raced (to) the fight against … the raging fire on Yarnell Hill.”
The 19 firefighters were Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Robert Caldwell, 23; Travis Carter, 31; Dustin Deford, 24; Christopher MacKenzie, 30; Eric Marsh, 43; Grant McKee, 21; Sean Misner, 26; Scott Norris, 28; Wade Parker, 22; John Percin, 24; Anthony Rose, 23; Jesse Steed, 36; Joe Thurston, 32; Travis Turbyfill, 27; William Warneke, 25; Clayton Whitted, 28; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; and Garret Zuppiger, 27.
The Yarnell Hill Fire was sparked June 28 by lightning.