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Arizona wildfire: Details emerge on tragedy that killed 19 hotshots

As more becomes known about the devastating Arizona wildfire that killed 19 members of a hotshot team, broader questions are being raised, including roles of residential development and climate change.

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Photos of the 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters and the lone survivor of the fatal blaze hang outside a fire station in Prescott, Ariz. Nearly a week after 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters died battling a blaze near Yarnell, Ariz., mourners continue to visit and grow the memorial.

Julie Jacobson/AP

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As more becomes known about the devastating Arizona wildfire that killed 19 members of a “hotshot” team, broader questions are being raised:

How to address the spread of residential expansion into the “wildland-urban interface” where homes quickly become fuel – particularly in areas of the mountain West where zoning and other government regulations are very unpopular.

And to what extent have changing climate patterns become a cause of such blazes at a time when the US Forest Service is having to spend increasing amounts of its budget on firefighting?

Based on officials’ initial analysis and a map of how the tragedy unfolded compiled by the Associated Press, “an erratic wildfire driven by ferocious and shifting winds curled around the location of a team of Arizona Hotshot firefighters, cutting off their access to a safety zone and creating a death trap that quickly consumed them,” the AP reports.

 
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