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Firefighters Begin to Control Arizona Wildfire

People listen at a prayer vigil ceremony for the 19 firefighters killed in a nearby wildfire in Prescott, Arizona, July 2, 2013.
Firefighters in the southern U.S. state of Arizona have started to contain the fierce wildfire that took the lives of 19 firefighters as they battled the blaze earlier this week.

A local Arizona Incident Management Team spokesperson, Paige Rockett, told VOA about 600 firefighters are tackling the fire and no additional firefighters would be called in to help. She said crews have started to bring the fire under control, with eight percent contained as of late Tuesday.

The lightning-sparked fire northwest of Phoenix began Friday. Emergency workers have evacuated 250 homes, but Rockett said no additional homes were evacuated overnight.

A Prescott Fire Department volunteer told VOA on Tuesday that military air tankers and five helicopters were dumping water on "hot spots" in an effort to contain the fire.

The 19 firefighters died late Sunday, and residents like Nancy Alder have placed flowers outside the fire department where the victims were based to pay tribute.

"Greater love has no man than to lay his life down for his friend, and these guys did that. They will be saints. They are saints,'' said Alder.

Arizona and the neighboring western states of California and Nevada are in the middle of an extreme heat wave. Temperatures have reached record highs, and excessive heat warnings are in effect across the region.
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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.