Georgia firefighters mourn Arizona tragedy - Dallas News |

Georgia firefighters mourn Arizona tragedy

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Firefighters in Georgia are mourning the loss of the Arizona crew.

Georgia Forestry Commission's Coweta unit has battled more than 4,000 wildfires in Coweta, Fayette and Fulton counties since last July. Its rangers are often dispatched to other states to help battle massive blazes.

Georgia Forestry Commission's Terry Quigley and his staff are monitoring the grim developments out of Arizona, where 19 firefighters perished while battling a fierce wildfire Sunday night. Quigley said that there's a good chance they know some of the firefighters who died.

"The likelihood we know them is pretty high," Quigley said.

Quigley said that forestry firefighters across the country carry fire shelters on every call.

"You just lay down on your face, on your stomach and get your arms and legs in this thing kind of make a little pup tent out of it," Quigley said.

Officials say all 19 victims in the Arizona fire had deployed their shelters, perishing as flames consumed the tent-like shields.

"It kind of makes you think, don't get complacent on the fire line and realize everything can change with the wind shift," said Matthew Goddard.

The Georgia Forestry Commission routinely dispatches firefighters and other resources to states requesting assistance. Two hand crews are on standby now.

It is possible Georgia crews and members of Arizona's elite hotshot team crossed paths.

"We go out there with them sometimes and we don't know if we knew any of these guys yet, when they release the names, maybe we fought fire with them before but they are all our brothers we pray for their families," Quigley said.

Quigley said that experts will study what went wrong and take steps to reduce the likelihood of such a tragedy happening again.

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