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> 2013-07-01 17:45:36
America mourns firefighters killed battling Arizona fires
(Vatican Radio) US President Barack Obama said on Monday the deaths of 19 firefighters, who were battling an Arizona wildfire, are a heartbreaking reminder that emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day.
Obama, who was speaking during his visit to Africa, added that America's thoughts and prayers go out to the firefighters’ families. He predicted the incident will force government leaders to answer broader questions about how they handle increasingly destructive and deadly wildfires.
The victims, members of an elite crew fighting a forest fire near the town of Yarnell, northwest of Phoenix, were overtaken on Sunday by a fast-moving blaze fueled by hot winds. Some 200 homes also were destroyed.
Vatican Radio’s Ann Schneible spoke to Deacon Pete Balland from Sacred Heart Parish in nearby Prescott, Arizona about how the community has been affected by the deaths of these firefighters:
“The mood is somber for the Prescott people….when you’re in a town of 40.000 people, everybody known somebody….it’s a great, great loss for the whole community.
We’re praying for these families, and not only for the families and loved ones left behind, but for them as they enter into eternal life….
We’ve just gone through a major fire here within 6 or 7 miles of the city limits in the last 2 weeks and these same firemen saved our town…now they’ve lost their lives trying to save the town of Yarnell, they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice……”