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They were part of an elite squad who confronted wildfires up close, setting up barriers to stop their destructive spread.

But the inferno blazing across central Arizona proved too much.

The 19 firefighters were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. It is the deadliest blaze for firefighterssince the 9/11 attacks.

“Our entire crew was lost,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo told reporters Sunday night. “We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you’ll ever meet. Right now, we’re in crisis.”

The tragedy decimated the Prescott Fire Department by about 20%.Fraijo said one member of the team was not with the other crew members and survived.

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