LOS ANGELES, July 1. /ITAR-TASS reporter Alexandra Urusova /. The estimated number of firefighters killed while extinguishing a forest fire in Arizona is from 19 to 25. Local authorities have confirmed the death of 19 rescuers, but Fox-10 TV channel earlier reported that fire services can’t find six more employees.
According to the latest data, 22 firefighters were injured in the fire, the condition of 8 of them the doctors evaluate as severe or critical.
According to the information reported by the TV channel, the fire occurred on Friday in the town of Yarnell, near Prescott. Its cause could be careless handling of fire. As a result, emergency services have evacuated residents of 50 homes. 600 people have been housed in temporary shelters. On Sunday, the fire took catastrophic proportions.
The representatives of the fire department say that the fire has spread almost all over the little town of Yarnell, dividing it into two parts. The fire has destroyed 250 homes. It is not reported whether there are injured among the locals.
The department did not disclose what could be the direct cause of firefighters’ death. It is not specified whether it was just a fire, an explosion or a collapse. Media indicate that the cause of death of the firefighters could be the acceleration of the fire.
"The evacuation of residents was being conducted, and rescuers were coming round the houses where everything was on fire. Probably a strong wind prevented them to get out of the epicenter of the fire," said one of the witnesses.
The American fire service has suffered the biggest losses since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.