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TODAY   |  July 01, 2013

Fire dept. spokesman: 19 losses are ‘devastating’

Wade Ward, the public information officer for the Prescott Fire Department in Arizona, talks about the tragic loss of 19 firefighters in a massive wildfire, saying “it had to be the perfect storm in order for this to happen.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> to the national fire protection association the last wild fire to kill more firefighters was in los angeles back in 1933 . let's turn to wade ward . he's the spokesperson for the prescott fire department . sir, good morning to you.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> let me start by offering our condolences. i know this is a tight knit community. i imagine everyone is touched in some way. i'm sure you knew many of these men.

>> yeah. this is a small community. it's a small fire department . it's a very tight nit community like you said. it's devastating. i can't explain to you what it's like at this point.

>> the loss is truly unimaginable. what can you tell us about how this may have happened? here we have such an elite group of firefighters and it seems this happened so suddenly. do you know what conditions lead to this?

>> no, at this time we don't. the fire is still under investigation. the tragedy is under investigation. we don't know exactly what happened. i can tell you that this is a very elite group of men, like you talked about. i can tell you that it had to be the perfect storm in order for this to happen. their situation awareness and their training is at such a high level that it's unimaginable that this has even happened.

>> we heard that many of them had deployed their fire shelters, giving some indication that they knew things had headed in their direction.

>> again, the investigation is underway. we still have a lot of information that's unknown. we'll have a press conference this morning at 10:00 at city hall . hopefully we can answer more of those questions at this point.

>> what is happening with the fire right now? we just heard our correspondence telling us that it is not contained. what kind of conditions are you battling with this morning?

>> well, unfortunately i can't give you exactly what you want. we weren't assigned to the fire, the prescott fire department in terms of a lot of overhead. and since this has happened we have an incident within an incident and i have been completely out of tune on what's happening with the fire at this point.

>> before you go, what would you want people to know about these 19 men.

>> like the chief said earlier today, he said it the best, they're some of the best people that you'd ever meet.

>> well, wade ward , i know this is a very difficult morning. i appreciate your time, sir and we send our condolences.