45 Percent Containment On Deadly Arizona Fire

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Crews have made significant progress in controlling a fire that killed 19 firefighters over the weekend.

Authorities said the fire near Yarnell is now 45 percent contained, up from 8 percent earlier in the day and zero a day ago.

Firefighters had cooperative weather that allowed them to achieve a breakthrough on the same day that they came off the line to salute a procession of vehicles that had been left by 19 Hotshot crew members killed in the line of duty.

The vehicles were driven by fellow Prescott firefighters. One of the trucks held backpacks, water jugs and coolers. Another was emblazoned with the group's motto, in Latin: "To be, rather than to seem." As the vehicles drove through downtown Prescott, they were greeted by a large crowd that lined the street and waved flags and cheered the motorcade.

Fire crews across the U.S. also paused throughout the day to remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots and recognize the dangers firefighters face, said Jim Whittington, spokesman for the multiagency Southwest Incident Command Team. Gov. Jan Brewer said she would fly Arizona flags at half-staff for 19 days for each firefighter lost.

A memorial service for all 19 firefighters has been set for July 9 in the city of Prescott Valley at an arena that is home to a minor league hockey team. The arena can hold 6,000 people, and an overflow area may be set up outside.

Fire investigators seeking to determine what went wrong were expected to make their way Wednesday to the site where the bodies were found to get their first look at the scene, a mountainous spot about a quarter-mile southwest of Yarnell, said Mike Dudley of the U.S. Forest Service who is on the team looking into the deaths.

The investigation will include examining radio logs, the fire site and weather reports. They'll also surely talk to the sole survivor of the blaze, the lookout who warned his fellow firefighters and friends that the wildfire was switching directions and heading straight for them.



 
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