Wildfire in Arizona Kills 19 Firefighters

A powerful wildfire killed nineteen firefighters in central Arizona Sunday, in one of the worst wildfire disasters the country's seen in decades.

The nineteen firemen were part of a special "hotshot" unit, who were highly trained, and would often go deep into the wilderness with heavy equipment in order to construct protective lines around fires to contain them.

Only one member of the local "hotshot" unit has survived.

Associated Press on YouTube

The fire, which started with a lightning strike on Friday, has spread over at least 2,000 acres, and burned down 200 houses in Yarnell, Arizona, a town about 80 miles away from Phoenix. It has also forced the evacuation of many of local residents.

The Prescott Fire Chief, Dan Fraijo, has said that "the entire fire department, the entire area, the entire state is being devastated by the magnitude of this incident."

In a statement on Monday, President Obama called the firefighters "heroes," and expressed his sympathy for the bereaved.

"Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters," he said.

Currently, at least two hundred firefighters are working on containing the blaze, with over hundred more on their way with water-dropping helicopters.