Fire chief discusses hotshot crew training in Minn.
On Sunday, 19 firefighters were killed while fighting a massive wildfire at Yarnell Hill in the Phoenix area, the deadliest wild land fire since 1933 and deadliest day for firefighters since Sept. 11, 2001.
The firefighters were part of an elite hotshot crew trained in battling fires like this. Hotshot crews are usually comprised of 20 specialists who go in and dig the fire lines, cutting the brush to make a fuel break.
The crews get as close to a fire as they safely can, but unpredictable shifting winds can present real risks. Investigators say winds, combined with a 10-year drought and dry, thick brush helped the blaze spread rapidly, leaving the crew to turn to a last resort of a fire-retardant tent. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.
FOX 9 News spoke with Nyle Zikmund, fire chief for Spring Lake Park, Blaine and Mounds View, about what it takes to be a member of a hotshot crew and how Minnesota firefighters are trained.