Yarnell Hill Fire: Arizona wildfire 90 percent contained - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM


Yarnell Hill Fire: Arizona wildfire 90 percent contained

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The federal government is sending four C-130 tankers equipped to fight wildfires to Arizona on Tuesday. (Source: YouTube / 146th Airlift Wing, USAF) The federal government is sending four C-130 tankers equipped to fight wildfires to Arizona on Tuesday. (Source: YouTube / 146th Airlift Wing, USAF)

Forest officials say the Yarnell Hill Fire is 90 percent contained, as of Friday night.

Forest officials said they have roughly 675 personnel battling the fire.

The lightning-caused wildfire has burned roughly 8,377 acres.

U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft have been brought in to help, and are specially equipped to drop fire tardant.

Earlier this week, fire officials estimated full containment would happen by July 15. As of Wednesday night, they are estimating containment by July 12. Fire officials also believe some residents may be able to return to their homes before Saturday.

The wildfire killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew Sunday, when they were trapped by the explosive wildfire.

The bodies of the 19 firefighters were brought off the mountainside, where they were overtaken by the fire, and brought to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office, where the causes of death will be officially determined.

The estimated cost of the fire that began one week ago was at $1.8 million as of Tuesday morning, an average of about $400,000 a day.

Fire officials went in the burned areas Tuesday and Wednesday, and determined there were roughly 129 homes lost in the fire. She said the number of outbuildings, and other structures associated with the homes made it hard to estimate exactly how many residences were lost.

Fire investigators will soon try to learn what circumstances led to the deaths of the 19 firefighters, said Jim Paxon, a founding member of the Arizona Wildfire Academy, and who served on the Southwest Interagency Incident Management Team during the Rodeo-Chediski Fire in 2002.

"These investigators, with 30 plus years of experience, are scientists," Paxon told CBS 5 News on Tuesday morning. "They will try to discern what happened, and how can we prevent it in the future."

Paxon said the investigators will look at communication, command structure and the plans used to fight the fire.

They "will try to reconstruct the fire as it blew up, and ran over the Granite Mountain crew," he said.

He said they will use a number of tools to determine why it was so intense and extreme that the firefighters' fireproof tents didn't protect them.

Paxon said the firefighters are "really a very tight group." He said there are 30,000 full-time firefighters in the nation.

"Their mindset is to work hard," he said, and they are willing to try and do things to protect property and lives, others might not be so willing to do.

Paxon said he was impressed at the outpouring of emotion and donations to the families of the firefighters.

"It's most appropriate the people we're protecting, that they recognize, and pay tribute to them," he said.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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