A wildfire burns homes in Yarnell, Ariz. on Sunday, June 30, 2013. An Arizona fire chief says the wildfire that killed 19 members of his crew near the town was moving fast and fueled by hot, dry conditions. The fire started with a lightning strike on Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski)
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — President Barack Obama is expressing his condolences to the families of the 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona wildfire.
Obama says the firefighters were heroes and highly skilled professionals who quote -- "put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet."
Obama, who is traveling in Africa, says the federal government will be in close contact with state and local officials in Arizona to provide support.
The firefighters — members of an elite crew fighting a forest fire northwest of Phoenix — were overtaken Sunday by a fast-moving blaze stoked by hot winds. The fire also destroyed some 200 homes.
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