Pres. Obama mourns deaths of AZ firefighters - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Pres. Obama mourns deaths of AZ firefighters

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Yarnell Hill Fire in central Arizona Yarnell Hill Fire in central Arizona
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

President Barack Obama called the 19 firefighters who died Sunday while battling an Arizona wildfire "heroes" and "highly skilled professionals."

The Yarnell Hill Fire started with a lightning strike on Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures.

Eighteen of the victims were from the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots, fire officials said. It's not known where the other victim was based.

Here is Obama's complete statement:

"Yesterday (Sunday), 19 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."

Obama issued the statement while on a trip to South Africa.

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