The following are statements released from President Obama, Governor Brewer, Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar, Ann Kirkpatrick, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and DJ Quinlan, the Executive director of the Arizona Democratic party, on the tragic passing of 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Fire that continues to burn.
**Statement by President Obama on the Wildfire in Arizona:
Yesterday, nineteen firefighters were killed in the line of duty while fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona. They were heroes -- highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet. In recent days, hundreds of firefighters have battled extremely dangerous blazes across Arizona and the Southwest. The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need. But today, Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters and all whose lives have been upended by this terrible tragedy.
** Statement by Governor Brewer:
"This is as dark a day as I can remember, with Arizona suffering the truly unimaginable loss of 19 wildland firefighters. They were battling the Yarnell Fire, near Prescott, when the fast-moving blaze overtook their position.
"It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred, but the essence we already know in our hearts: fighting fires is dangerous work. The risk is well-known to the brave men and women who don their gear and do battle against forest and flame.
"When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen, and prayers for the families and friends left behind. God bless them all."
**Statement from Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema:
"My thoughts are with the families of the nineteen firefighters who died while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire last night. These brave heroes fell in the line of duty as they fought to keep our communities safe. Arizona owes them and their families a debt of gratitude. My continued thoughts go to all of those affected by the devastation in Yavapai County. As we learn more about the devastation in Yarnell, I will work with my colleagues to provide federal assistance as we fight this fire and rebuild the community."
**Statement from U.S. Representative Ron Barber:
My thoughts and my prayers go out to the families of the 19 brave Arizona firefighters who died in the line of duty yesterday – battling to save the homes of people they may have never met, but who were part of a community they selflessly served each day.
This tragedy touches every Arizonan and every American. My son-in-law Jason is an Arizona firefighter and today my family takes special pause recognizing the lost lives of his colleagues and the immense grief and loss felt by their families and communities. We also pray for the safety of those who continue to battle the flames.
Few of us can fathom the courage that these firefighters exhibited as they ran into areas as others fled. Our fellow Arizonans gave their lives fulfilling the words and the spirit of "The Firefighter's Prayer:"
I want to fill my calling and
to give the best in me
to guard my neighbor and
protect his property
And if according to your will
I have to lose my life
bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.
**Statement from U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva:
"Firefighters dedicate their careers to keeping the rest of us safe, and their bravery in the cause of protecting the public is sometimes taken for granted," Grijalva said. "It takes more courage and professionalism than we imagine to face a wall of fire with nothing but a small shelter for protection. These nineteen men died protecting other families' homes, doing what they believed in. Our gratitude for their efforts and our sorrow at their loss cannot easily be measured in words."
Grijalva expressed his hope and belief that the people of Prescott and the surrounding area will remember the firefighters' sacrifice after the fire has been contained.
"People call them first responders, but firefighters are often the only responders," Grijalva said. "They are men and women just like us who choose to dedicate their lives to protecting others. The nineteen men killed yesterday will be remembered not just for the lives and homes they saved, but for their willingness to brave that risk knowing the dangers, just as all firefighters do. I and my office are ready to assist their families, and the others affected by this terrible fire, in any way we can."
**Statement from U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick:
"It's difficult to put into words the pain shared by all Arizonans this morning. As the news of this tragedy unfolded last night, we at first felt shock and disbelief. And then a heartwrenching reality began to set in. These 19 courageous firefighters will long be remembered as heroes, but today they are deeply mourned as family members, dear friends, neighbors and colleagues. My heart goes out to their families, and we will spare no effort to assist them and the good folks of Yarnell, Prescott and other affected communities. We will not forget the sacrifice of these 19 firefighters. They went to work every day – to a job that was dangerous and thankless. They will never return, and our Arizona family will never be the same. May their brave souls rest in peace."
**Statement from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano:
"Today, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the nineteen firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty combating the wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona. As thousands of their colleagues continue to fight wildfires across Arizona and the West, the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are working closely with our federal partners including the Forest Service and the Department of Interior, to support state and local efforts. Our utmost priority is public safety and I urge residents in the impacted areas to continue to listen to local authorities and follow their guidance and instructions."
**Statement from Senator McCain:
"This evening, the families and loved ones of the brave firefighters who lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in Central Arizona – as well as those still fighting the fire – are in the thoughts and prayers of all Americans. This devastating loss is a reminder of the grave risks our firefighters take every day on our behalf in Arizona and in communities across this nation. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten."
**Statement from U.S. Representative Paul Gosar:
"My heart weeps for those who lost their lives and were affected by today's Yarnell Hill Fire. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost so much and the first responders battling this difficult situation. I urge others to join me in keeping those affected by this tragic fire in our thoughts and prayers. My office and I will continue to closely monitor the situation and remain in communication with emergency responders. Please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can be of assistance."
**Statement from DJ Quinlan, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party:
"Words cannot adequately express the shock and sorrow we feel at this terrible moment. The full magnitude of this tragedy is not yet known and is impossible to fathom. Our prayers and hearts go out to the families of those brave firefighters. We are reminded again of how much they sacrifice to keep us safe. We can only say thank you, rest in peace and may God bless you.
**Statement from Senator Jeff Flake:
"I am sick at the news of the deaths of 19 firefighters battling the Yarnell Hill fire. It is an unspeakable tragedy for a town like Prescott and the surrounding communities to lose so many. My heart goes out to the firefighters' families. We are in touch with the White House and federal agencies to ensure that all necessary federal resources are being brought to bear on the situation."
**Statement from Congressman David Schweikert:
"Words cannot express how heartbroken Joyce and I are at the devastation and loss of life in the Yarnell Hill Fire. Arizona lost some of its best and bravest last night and we owe them our gratitude. Please join me in praying for Yavapai County and the families of all the firefighters lost."