lone surviving elite firefighter was moving truck

Monday , July 01, 2013 - 11:20 AM

Arizona Wildfires

Prescott Ariz. Fire Chief Dan Fraijo gives a news conference in Prescott, Ariz. confirming that 19...

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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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