Firefighters Mourn 19 Killed, Continue Fight Against Arizona Wildfire

The 13-square-mile fire is burning northwest of Phoenix, two days after 19 firefighters were killed

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Tuesday, Jul 2, 2013  |  Updated 2:07 PM PDT
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Crews continue the fight against a wildfire northwest of Phoenix as they mourn 19 members of a Hotshots crew killed Sunday. Jennifer Bjorklund reports for Today in LA on Tuesday July 2, 2013.

Crews continue the fight against a wildfire northwest of Phoenix as they mourn 19 members of a Hotshots crew killed Sunday. Jennifer Bjorklund reports for Today in LA on Tuesday July 2, 2013.

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Firefighters continued the attack Tuesday on a 13-square-mile wildfire as they mourn 19 of their colleagues -- many, young fathers in their 20s -- who were killed during the fire fight northwest of Phoenix.

Heat, wind and dry conditions persisted Tuesday in the Yarnell, Ariz. area, adding to an already difficult week for firefighters attempting to gain ground on the Yarnell Hills fire. The wildfire started last week after a lightning strike.

An early evening thunderstorm might bring rain to the area.

"To honor the firefighters, they’re going to put that fire out," said fire information officer Karen Takai.

Containment was at zero percent Tuesday morning.

The battle against the fire continued as mourners gathered Monday in Phoenix to honor members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Nineteen of the specially trained firefighting team's 20 members were killed Sunday, and officials pledged an investigation by the Arizona Forestry Commission.

A spokesman for the agency told the Arizona Republic that the firefighters faced shifting wind conditions. Some deployed the flame retardant shelters to deflect heat and fire. The bodies, some of which were found covered in the tent-like fire shelters, were transported from the mountain Monday to Phoenix.

"If you have to deploy, that is the last measure," said Prescott Fire Department Chief Dan Fraijo. "There are just no other options but to cover yourself with that protective shield and hope for the best."

Authorities confirmed the victims of Sunday's tragedy were: Anthony Rose, 23; Eric Marsh, 43; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted , 28; Scott Norris, 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; Jesse Steed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; William Warneke, 25; and John Percin, 24; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; Chris MacKenzie, 30; and Andrew Ashcraft, 29.

A 20th member of the crew had been sent to move the team's truck away from the fire.

Mourners left flowers, flags, signs and other items along a fence outside Fire Station 7 in nearby Prescott. One of the signs read, "HEROES."

Nineteen shovels were placed at the memorial Tuesday afternoon.

Several of the deceased have Southern California ties.

Woyjeck is the son of LA County Fire Capt. Joe Woyjeck. Woyjeck started out as a Fire Explorer, a training mentorship program, and worked as an emergency medical technician.

MacKenzie and Warneke are graduates of Hemet High School. Warneke and his high school sweetheart were expecting their first child in December, his grandparents said.

Misner, of Santa Barbara County, is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, according to NBC affiliate KSBY.

Caldwell and McKee are cousins from an Orange County family.

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