(Atlantic) An inferno in Central Arizona proved too much, even for the shelters of 19-elite firefighters who lost their lives Sunday. Fire Officials say a wind shift and other factors caused the fire at Yarnell Hill, Northwest of Phoenix, which now spans almost 9,000 acres, to become erratic. Atlantic Fire Chief Mark Mcnees says fighting wildfires in this area compared to the one in Arizona does have its similarities. He remembers the raging wildfire that originated in western Pottawattamie County seven years ago.
“It is in the sense that you are battling nature and you are battling the elements,” stated Mcnees. “The CRP ground and some of the wooded areas we have around here would be the closest to that, but there is nothing like having 60, 80 and 100 foot trees going up all around you. They were trying to stop Mother Nature and that is really tough, opposed to what we are trying to do. Firemen have that mentality of trying to help…trying to help.”
“You are out there to help people and you know the risks and you try to minimize them,” said Mcnees. “Our number one goal is to bring everyone back. I am not going to risk my firefighter’s lives if there is not a real reward, so there has to be some reason you are going to put yourself on the line for that.
The wildfire, which is considered the deadliest in state history, is being fought by about 400 ground personnel and 100 incident-management staff.
July 2, 2013