Statement as distributed Monday by the International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger:
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the 19 Prescott fire fighters in Arizona who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting the communities they serve.
“When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen and prayers for the fire fighters who continue to work side-by-side in what are, by any measure, hellish conditions. At this time, the fire is now more than quadruple in size, as crews battle triple-digit heat and erratic winds in an effort to contain the blaze.
“The deaths in Arizona are the worst among fire fighters since 9/11, and it is the country’s worst wildfire disaster in more than 80 years.
“While there is an ongoing investigation in Prescott to determine how this happened, what we do know is that it was an unprecedented weather event that resulted in ‘a wind blowout in all directions.’
“As we mourn for those who have given their lives, we pray for the safety of hundreds more who are battling fires in the face of one of the worst heat waves in memory.”
The International Association of Fire Fighters represents 300,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics and is the leading advocate for the health and safety of first responders. More information is available at www.iaff.org