Alabama firefighters respond to 19 killed in Arizona

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – The world is a very different place tonight for the families of 19 firefighters who died in Central Arizona last night.

The wildfire they were fighting has exploded in size during the last 24 hours.

Authorities believe the fire was caused by lightning on Friday afternoon. It’s believed a drastic shift in winds, combined with unusual drought conditions, trapped the crew.

The tragedy in Arizona is unsettling for firefighters here in Alabama. It’s a close knit fraternity, and any time there’s a loss, all of them mourn.

Pelham Fire Chief David McCurry says, “Hit home a little bit. I go out quite a bit, over the last thirteen years. I hate to hear any fireman losing their life, but losing nineteen at one time is pretty tough to swallow.”

Firefighter Derrick Heckman says, “It’s just the nature of the beast. We’re in a lot of unpredictable situations. We can’t always predict what’s going to happen in the wildfire. We try to take out a lot of the mystery, but in the long scheme of things something can go wrong.”

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