Stillwater News Press

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July 4, 2013

Burns, breathing issues killed 19 elite firefighters battling Arizona wildfire

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A coroner’s office says 19 elite firefighters killed over the weekend died from burns and inhalation problems.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Phoenix issued the finding Thursday, two days after performing the autopsies.

The firefighters had deployed Sunday to what was thought to be a manageable lightning-caused forest fire near the small town of Yarnell.

Violent winds turned the fire, taking the crew by surprise and killing the Hotshot team.

An investigation is under way to find out what went wrong.

The firefighters’ bodies will be taken back to Prescott on Sunday.

Nearly 600 firefighters continue to fight the blaze, which is 45 percent contained. It has destroyed more than 100 homes and burned about 13 square miles.

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