Arizona Blaze Kills 19 Firefighters

Arizona Blaze Kills 19 Firefighters

A sad procession of six white vans were escorted by police in Arizona. The vans carried the bodies of 19 hero firefighters killed by a monster wildfire. It's the largest number of firefighter deaths since 9-11.

The headline in the Arizona Republic reads simply: "Tragedy." 

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The 19 elite firefighters were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The fast-moving wildfire apparently changed direction and caught them by surprise.

A 2012 video shows the Hotshots training with emergency fire retardent tents which they used in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to save themselves. 

They would take off their backpack, reach down to the bottom of the pack to the fire shelter, rip it out quickly, separate it and shake it out. Your heart is pumping and adrenaline is rushing, and flames are closing in. The most important part is to form a seal with the personal shelter as you go to the ground. Temperatures inside the shelter can reach 200 degrees. Outside the tent, temperatures can reach anywhere from 500 - 1,000 degrees depending on how intense the flames are.

The Hotshots call them "shake and bake" tents because they're only used as a last resort and the odds of survival are 50-50.

Arizona State University senior Connor Radnovich shot video of the Hotshots in action. Radnovich said, "Every time that a drill would be over and they would be done training with their fire shelters or done cutting up a tree with a chain saw, they would be right back to joking with each other. It was fun to be around them."

The devastated wife of firefighter Andrew Ashcraft spoke for the entire nation when she said, "They died heroes, and we'll miss them. We love them."  [Source: azcentral.com]