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129 homes, structures lost in Ariz. wildfire that killed 19 firefighters

Officials saluted a procession of vehicles used by the firefighters who died in the blaze.

Michael Nelson/EPA

Officials saluted a procession of vehicles used by the firefighters who died in the blaze.

YARNELL, Ariz. — Nearly 130 homes and structures have been destroyed by the Arizona wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 members of an elite firefighting crew.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office released the new tally Wednesday. Officials earlier had provided estimates ranging from 50 to 250 homes and other buildings lost in Yarnell. They were able to get a better estimate after getting a closer look at the scene.

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Reporters on Wednesday were taken into the fire area, where charred pine trees resembled burnt toothpicks sticking out of the hillsides.

Nearly 600 firefighters are battling the blaze, which has burned about 13 square miles. Hundreds of residents remain evacuated.

Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters came off the line Wednesday to salute a procession of fire vehicles that had been left by 19 elite Hotshot crew members who died.

The firefighters and law enforcement personnel gathered along a highway to honor the Prescott-based unit. One of the vehicles held backpacks, water jugs, and coolers. Another was emblazoned with the group’s motto, in Latin: ‘‘To be, rather than to seem.’’

Fire crews across the United States also planned to pause throughout the day to remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots and recognize the dangers firefighters face, said Jim Whittington, spokesman for Southwest Incident Command Team.

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