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19 elite firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire

NEED TO KNOW
  • Members of 'hotshot' unit were fighting the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona
  • Blaze expected to destroy half the homes in town
This still image from video provided courtesy of KPHO-TV / CBS-5-AZ.COM shows fires raging in the hills near Yarnell, Arizona on June 30, 2013

Nineteen firefighters from an elite team whose job was to get as close to a wildfire as possible died in Arizona.

The firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department were fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire, northwest of Phoenix. They are supposed to go in first, clear out vegetation and stop the flames from advancing.

Officials say some of the firefighters were found in emergency shelters they can deploy when a fire blows over them.

Sunday marks the worst loss of firefighters in a wildfire since 1933.

This fire, which has already burned more than 6,000 acres, is expected to destroy about half of the 500 homes in the town of Yarnell.

More from HLN affiliate KTVK: Fire Chief: "Something drastic happened"

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