Battle Against Deadly Arizona Wildfire Continues

The wildfire burning 30 miles southwest of Prescott, Ariz., continues to torch terrain on its sixth day

The blaze that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters -- including six with ties to Southern California -- continued to rip through Arizona on Wednesday, taking over at least 13 square miles.

The Yarnell Hill fire, burning in the town of Prescott just northwest of Phoenix, was at 8 percent containment as of Wednesday morning. The blaze was estimated to be fully contained by July 12, according to the Incident Information System.

Residents of Peeples Valley and Yarnell who were evacuated by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office on Sunday remain out of their homes.

Three days after lightning first sparked the wildfire on June 28, 19 of 20 firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots died while trying to put out the flames. Fourteen of the men were in their 20s, and many are survived by wives and children.

At least 596 fire personnel were battling the flames Wednesday, including eight crews, nine helicopters and 44 engines. The California Air National Guard was scheduled to send two air tankers to make water drops by Wednesday night.

The behavior of the flames that have destroyed at least 50 homes was described as “smoldering with isolated torching.” Temperatures in the 90s are forecast for Wednesday with low humidity and potential for wind-gusting thunderstorms, bringing a fear of more erratic fire behavior, according to the incident report.

Some of the bodies of the specially trained crew killed Sunday were found covered in flame retardant shelters that are meant to deflect heat and fire. The tent-like covers are deployed as a firefighter’s last saving grace during a heated battle, but they are not guaranteed to save one from being overtaken by flames.

"It's an extreme measure that's taken under the absolute worst conditions," Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said of the shelters.

Arizona officials launched an investigation Tuesday into the cause of the deaths, and the families of the men mourned the loss of their fallen heroes. Numerous funds and foundations were set up to collect donations for the families of those lost in the fire.

"Whatever may have happened there will be understood someday," Fraijo said.

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.

Several of the deceased have Southern California ties, including Woyjeck, MacKenzie, Warneke, Misner, Caldwell and McKee.

Red Cross shelters are open at Yavapai Community College in Prescott and at the Wickenburg High School in Wickenburg. People and small animals are welcome at both shelters, and large livestock can be taken to Hidden Springs Ranch on Highway 89.

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