18 firefighters killed battling Arizona fire
Eighteen firefighters have died battling fire in Yarnell Hill in Arizona after the blaze ravaged the town forcing people to evacuate, a local official told US media.
Local residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell were ordered by authorities to evacuate as wildfire, now covering nearly 2,000 acres, was threatening the residential areas.
A team of 20 firefighters has been sent to battle a "serious incident." Eighteen firefighters who were unaccounted for have been confirmed dead, Wade Ward with the Prescott Fire Department told CNN.
It is estimated that two hundred firefighters are now battling the flames with the help of an additional 130 firefighters and helicopters and planes on their way.
Earlier Sunday, 50 homes in the Buckhorn, Model Creek and Double A Bar Ranch areas some 85 miles from Phoenix were ordered to evacuate. By afternoon the evacuation order included residents in the Peeples Valley area and in the town of Yarnell.
The natural disaster also shut down state Route 89, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced.
The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff's office said.
The blaze erupted first on Friday but rapidly spread on Sunday as the area was hit by unfavorable weather conditions.