Update, July 1, 2013: The firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill fire were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite group of wildland firefighters from the Prescott (AZ) Fire Department.
The deaths constitute the largest loss of firefighter lives since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, in which 343 firefighters were killed.
It was also the deadliest wildland fire since 1933, according to a list from the U.S. National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Twenty-five firefighters died when a fire burned in light chaparral near Griffith Park, California.
During the wildfire, the firefighters deployed their fire shelters, a type of aluminum blanket that protects against the flames and heat.
The wildfire also forced evacuations in two nearby communities, but no civilian injuries were reported.
Original Story, June 30, 2013: Nineteen firefighters were confirmed killed battling a fire in Arizona.
The victims were all members of the Prescott Fire Department, according to a CNN report (http://bit.ly/13k9euF).
The crew was fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, which broke out Friday northwest of Phoenix. The fire was reportedly started by lightning and has grown to 1,000 acres, damaged three homes and forced the evacuations of residents in the communities of Peeples Valley and Yarnell, forestry official Art Morrison said.
It was no immediately clear how the firefighters died.