YARNELL, Ariz. — A fast-moving wildfire killed 19 firefighters Sunday afternoon after the blaze raced through an Arizona community, a state forestry official said.
Forestry spokesman Art Morrison said the firefighters were caught by the fire near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. He said the firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters, tent-like structures meant to shield them from flames and heat.
Earlier Sunday, the 2,000-acre wildfire prompted evacuations of 50 homes in several communities. Later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the evacuations to include more residents in the town of Yarnell.
Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle were burned. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.
About 200 firefighters are battling the wildfire, which has forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.
Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman, told the Arizona Republic that federal help is being sought to fight the fire.
Roxie Glover, spokeswoman at Wickenburg Community Hospital, said the hospital was told to expect people with injuries.
The Red Cross opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.
Another Arizona fire, a two-acre blaze that started at a motorcycle salvage yard and spread to a trailer park, has destroyed five mobile homes in the Gila County community of Rye, located more than 130 miles east of Yarnell.