6 Jul 2013

Arizona wildfire now 80% contained

10:23 am on 6 July 2013

A wildfire in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters last Sunday is now 80% contained and officials are scaling back the number of crews tackling it.

Residents of Yarnell, where the blaze began, are expected to be allowed to return to their homes over the weekend.

The BBC reports the fire has destroyed more than 100 houses and razed an area 33 sq km.

The flames swept over the men in rugged mountainous terrain. It was the deadliest blaze for US firefighters since at least 25 men died in 1933 battling a fire in Los Angeles.

On Friday, 550 firefighters were tackling the Yarnell Hill conflagration, down from 680 the day before.

Utility firms are trying to restore services in Yarnell, checking for leaks in gas tanks.

An evacuation order for Peeples Valley was lifted on Thursday evening.

The BBC reports Vice-President Joe Biden is expected to attend a memorial for the 19 men on Tuesday in the town of Prescott, where they were based.