map via Arizona Republic [h/t Think Progress]

AN ARIZONA wildfire that is reportedly not contained has taken the lives of 19 elite firefighters, part of a group called the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who were battling the inferno and got caught by it. It’s being reported as the worst fire tragedy since 1933.

A report from the New York Times:

photo from KNXV, via Think Progress

photo from KNXV, via Think Progress

Nineteen firefighters were killed on Sunday battling a fast-moving wildfire menacing a small town in central Arizona.

The firefighters died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire near the town of Yarnell, about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix. Steve Skurja, a spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, said there were “several fires still active” in the Yarnell area. In a search of the scene, Mr. Skurja said, crews found the bodies of the firefighters.

They were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a specialist team of wildfire fighters based in Prescott, Ariz., said Mike Reichling, a spokesman for the Tempe Fire Department. He declined to identify the men until their families had been notified.

President Obama made a statement from Africa.

Yesterday, nineteen firefighters were killed in the line of duty while fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona. They were heroes — highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet. In recent days, hundreds of firefighters have battled extremely dangerous blazes across Arizona and the Southwest. The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need. But today, Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters and all whose lives have been upended by this terrible tragedy.

h/t Think Progress