Many of those killed were graduates of Prescott High, including 28-year-old Clayton Whitted, who as a firefighter would work out on the same campus where he played football for the Prescott Badgers from 2000 to 2004.
The school’s football coach, Lou Beneitone, said Whitted was the type of athlete who ‘‘worked his fanny off.’’
‘‘He wasn’t a big kid, and many times in the game, he was overpowered by big men, and he still got after it. He knew, ‘This man in front of me is a lot bigger and stronger than me,’ but he'd try it and he'd smile trying it,’’ Beneitone said.
He and Whitted had talked a few months ago about how this year’s fire season could be a ‘‘rough one.’’
‘‘I shook his hand, gave him a hug, and said, ‘Be safe out there,'’’ Beneitone recalled. ‘‘He said, ‘I will, Coach.'’’
Hundreds of people were evacuated from the Yarnell area. In addition to the flames, downed power lines and exploding propane tanks continued to threaten what was left of the town, said fire information officer Steve Skurja. A light rain fell over the area but did little to slow the fire.
‘‘It’s a very hazardous situation right now,’’ Skurja said.
Arizona is in the midst of a historic drought that has left large parts of the state highly flammable.
‘‘Until we get a significant showing of the monsoons, it’s showtime, and it’s dangerous, really dangerous,’’ incident commander Roy Hall said.
The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildfire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park blaze in Los Angeles, which killed 29. The biggest loss of firefighters in U.S. history was 343, killed in the 9/11 attack on New York.
In 1994, the Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by an explosion of flames.
A makeshift memorial of flower bouquets and American flags formed at the Prescott fire station where the crew was based.
More than 1,000 people turned out Monday to a gym at the Prescott campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to honor those killed.
At the end of the ceremony, dozens of wildfire fighters sporting Hotshot shirts and uniforms from other jurisdictions marched down the bleachers to the front of the auditorium, their heavy work boots drumming a march on the wooden steps.
They bowed their heads for a moment of silence in memory of their fallen comrades as slides bearing each man’s name and age were projected behind them.
Associated Press writers Bob Christie in Phoenix, Brian Skoloff in Yarnell, Tami Abdollah in Prescott, and Martin Di Caro in Washington contributed to this report.