National outpouring grows for Yarnell Hill Fire victims
Firefighters in Frenchtown, MT, drape American flags over a bridge that also has a sign with a purple ribbon in memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire. (Source: Facebook)
Sean Misner, 26
Grant McKee, 21
PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ (CBS5/AP) -
A national outpouring of support is growing for the 19 elite Hotshot firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill Fire on Sunday.
President Barack Obama called Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to receive an update on the wildfires and express his condolences to the families of the 19 firefighters who died in the blaze and to all whose lives have been impacted by the fires.
Obama, who is on a trip to Africa, also expressed his gratitude to the hundreds of first responders who continue to work around the clock to protect homes and businesses.
During the Monday call, the president reinforced his commitment to providing necessary federal support to Arizona and to local first responders fighting the fire. The administration says it will continue to keep in constant contact with local officials and coordinate with federal agencies.
In Minnesota, wildfire specialists were mourning the deaths of the 19 firefighters.
Bob Quady, a forester with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said it's very sad for the tight-knit family fraternity, which numbers more than 500 Minnesotans who might be called at any time to fight wildfires across the United States.
Ron Stoffel, the DNR's wildfire suppression supervisor in Grand Rapids, said he can only imagine what the "hotshots" went through as the fire overtook them.
Five DNR employees on a helicopter crew are helping to battle the Arizona wildfire. Another 20 Minnesotans are in New Mexico, awaiting firefighting assignments.
Louisiana's agriculture commissioner has ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff at state Department of Agriculture facilities in honor of the fallen crew.
Commissioner Mike Strain issued the order Monday. The flags will remain lowered statewide through Friday.
Strain said the firefighters' deaths are "devastating news." He describes wildland fires as some of the most intense, dangerous and unpredictable to battle because they spread quickly.
In a statement Monday, Strain also thanked the men and women who risk their lives to prevent the spread of such fires.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said the deaths hits close to home for her state.
Just weeks ago, the Granite Mountain Hotshots from Prescott traveled to northern New Mexico to help battle a fast-moving fire that charred more than 37 square miles of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Martinez is asking New Mexicans to keep the firefighters' families in their thoughts and prayers. She says the firefighters are heroes who put themselves in harm's way to protect others.
The crew also is being remembered for mentoring members of the Santa Fe Fire Department.
Martinez ordered that New Mexico state flags be flown at half-staff until sunset Friday.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation) contributed to this report.