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Key moments in blaze that killed 19 firefighters

YARNELL, Ariz. -- A wildfire northwest of Phoenix dramatically escalated over a three-day period near Yarnell, Ariz., before culminating with the death of 19 firefighters. A look at some of the key moments:

FRIDAY, JUNE 28

5:36 p.m.: A bolt of lightning ignites a fire about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

SATURDAY, JUNE 29

10 a.m.: The Arizona State Forestry Division calls in more help to fight the blaze, including a pair of air tankers, a helicopter, fire engines and two hand crews, according to the Yarnell Fire Department. Still, the fire was just 15 acres in size at 8 p.m.

SUNDAY, JUNE 30

6:24 a.m.: A member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot team, Andrew Ashcraft, texted his wife: ``I'm going down to Yarnell for a fire that's threatening homes. I think I will be down there for a while on this one.''

6:30 a.m.: The fire was estimated at 200 acres, and an incident management team more able to handle a growing blaze took over control of the crews on the fire. At this point, the Granite Mountain Hotshots and a second elite crew were assigned to the fire.

11 a.m.: Sheriff's deputies began notifying the approximately 700 residents of Yarnell to get ready to evacuate.

1:15 p.m.: The Yarnell Fire Department issued a bulletin that described evacuations that were taking place and that the ``community should be on high alert, particularly since we were expecting thunderstorms this afternoon.'' The fire was only 200 acres at this point, but described as ``growing.''

2:30 p.m.: Ashcraft sent another text and photo to his wife labeled ``lunch'' as the crew took a break and prepared to attack the fire. It appeared to have been taken from a ridgeline as smoke billowed straight into the air nearby.

4 p.m.: A thunderstorm was brewing, and the winds became gustier and changed direction nearly 180 degrees. The fire was becoming highly dangerous and unpredictable at this point.

4:47 p.m.: A final transmission came in, saying the crew was in their emergency fire shelters. Nearby weather stations showed winds from the north at 26 mph, with gusts to 43 mph.

By nightfall, the blaze had grown to 2,000 acres and authorities confirmed that 19 firefighters had died.

The next morning, it had grown to nearly 8,400 acres and authorities began removing the bodies from the mountain.


For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to yarnellfallenfirefighters.com.

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