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He later gathered at the Arrowhead Bar and Grill in nearby Congress along with locals and watched on TV as he saw the fire destroy his house.
"That was when we knew it was really gone," he said.
Obama sends condolences for firefighters who died
President Barack Obama says the deaths of 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona wildfire are a heartbreaking reminder that emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day while rushing toward danger.
Obama, who spoke from Africa on Monday, added that America’s thoughts and prayers go out to their families.
He said, quote, “We are heartbroken about what happened.”
Obama says his administration is prepared to help Arizona investigate how the deaths happened. He predicted the incident will force government leaders to answer broader questions about how they handle increasingly destructive and deadly wildfires.
The firefighters, members of an elite crew fighting a forest fire northwest of Phoenix, were overtaken Sunday by a fast-moving blazed fueled by hot winds. Some 200 homes also were destroyed.
Man watched home burn in fire that killed 19
An Arizona man who lost his home in a wildfire that killed 19 people says he saw embers on the roof of his garage in his rear view mirror as he fled.
Chuck Overmyer says he and his wife, Ninabill, left with their three dogs and a 1930 model hot rod on a trailer. They gathered at a nearby bar and grill along with other people and watched on TV as their 1,800-square-foot home went up in flames.
He later fielded a phone call from a friend in which he said, "Lost it all, man. Yep, it’s all gone."
Morrison said the fire grew in intensity when winds began gusting at up to 24 mph in the late afternoon.
"You get some winds, and it can take off on you," he said.
Two hundred firefighters were working on the fire Sunday, but several hundred more were expected to arrive Monday when a new fire management team takes over.
The fire has forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. It was zero percent contained late Sunday.
The Red Cross has opened two shelters in the area — at Yavapai College in Prescott and at the Wickenburg High School gym.
Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.
Billeaud reported from Phoenix. Associated Press writer Brian Skoloff in Yarnell, Ariz., and Associated Press reporter Martin Di Caro in Washington, D.C., also contributed to this story.
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