Lone surviving elite firefighter was moving truck

Jul 1 2013 - 11:20am

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Prescott Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo gives a news conference in Prescott, Ariz. confirming that 19 members of the City of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshot team died while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo, Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)
Prescott Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo, center at podium, gives a news conference in Prescott, Ariz. confirming that 19 members of the City of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshot team died while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/The Daily Courier, Les Stukenberg)
Members of the US Forest Service's Blue Ridge Hotshots, foreground, and other firefighters watch as the Yarnell Hill Fire advances on the town of Yarnell, Ariz., Sunday, June 30, 2013. The crew vehicles (buggies) for the Granite Mountain Hotshots are the white vehicles parked at center and right. 18 members of the Granite Mountain crew were killed fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Story)
In this April 12, 2012 photo provided by the Cronkite News, Granite Mountain Hotshots crew members train on setting up emergency fire shelters outside of Prescott, Ariz. On Sunday, June 30, 2013, 19 members of the Prescott-based crew were killed in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years. The firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency fire shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat - when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, according to a state forestry spokesman. (AP Photo/Cronkite News, Connor Radnovich)
Volunteer citizen patrol officer Seymour Petrovsky stands guard at the gate to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hot Shot Crew fire station, Monday, July 1, 2013, in Prescott, Ariz. An out-of-control blaze overtook the elite group of firefighters trained to battle the fiercest wildfires, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields. The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew leaving the city's fire department reeling. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Prescott Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo gives a news conference in Prescott, Ariz. confirming that 19 members of the City of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshot team died while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo, Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier)
Prescott Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo, center at podium, gives a news conference in Prescott, Ariz. confirming that 19 members of the City of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshot team died while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/The Daily Courier, Les Stukenberg)
Members of the US Forest Service's Blue Ridge Hotshots, foreground, and other firefighters watch as the Yarnell Hill Fire advances on the town of Yarnell, Ariz., Sunday, June 30, 2013. The crew vehicles (buggies) for the Granite Mountain Hotshots are the white vehicles parked at center and right. 18 members of the Granite Mountain crew were killed fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Tom Story)
In this April 12, 2012 photo provided by the Cronkite News, Granite Mountain Hotshots crew members train on setting up emergency fire shelters outside of Prescott, Ariz. On Sunday, June 30, 2013, 19 members of the Prescott-based crew were killed in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years. The firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency fire shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat - when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, according to a state forestry spokesman. (AP Photo/Cronkite News, Connor Radnovich)
Volunteer citizen patrol officer Seymour Petrovsky stands guard at the gate to the Granite Mountain Interagency Hot Shot Crew fire station, Monday, July 1, 2013, in Prescott, Ariz. An out-of-control blaze overtook the elite group of firefighters trained to battle the fiercest wildfires, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields. The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew leaving the city's fire department reeling. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

YARNELL, Ariz. -- The lone survivor of an elite firefighting crew that was trapped and killed by an Arizona wildfire escaped because he was moving the crew's truck when the flames roared over the men.

The wind-whipped fire trapped 18 members of a Prescott-based "hotshot" crew and another man working with them Sunday. All 19 died despite deploying tent-like fire structures designed to deflect the heat and flames.

Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling says one member of the hotshot crew survived after separating from the team to move its vehicle.

Southwest incident team leader Clay Templin says the crew and commanders were following safety protocols, but it appears the fire's erratic nature simply overwhelmed them.

Reichling says the blaze roughly 85 miles northwest of Phoenix has burned 13 square miles with zero containment.

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