PHOENIX (Reuters) - Nineteen firefighters were killed battling a fast-moving wildfire menacing a small town in central Arizona, the U.S. Wildland Fire Aviation service said on Sunday.
The firefighters perished in the so-called Yarnell Hill Fire, near the small town of Yarnell about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, the agency said in a Facebook post.
"It has been confirmed that 19 wildland firefighters have lost their lives on the Yarnell Hill fire Arizona," the post said, adding that the agency was asking "for prayers for the families and friends of these brave men and women."
No immediate details on the circumstances of the firefighters' deaths were provided.
The blaze has charred about 1,000 acres of tinder-dry chapparral and grasslands since erupting Friday amid heat wave conditions baking the Southwest, prompting the evacuation of scores of homes near Yarnell.
The Daily Courier Prescott newspaper said the dead were members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite Mountain Hotshots team. The newspaper put the death toll at 18, citing reports from the fire department.
(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Steve Gorman and Stacey Joyce)
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