Tester mourns loss of firefighters in Arizona

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today saluted the heroism of the 19 firefighters who perished Sunday battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona. One of the firefighters, Dustin Deford, grew up in Ekalaka and began his firefighting career in Carter County:

“Firefighters like Dustin don’t set out to be heroes, but that’s what they are. Wildland firefighters take tremendous risks to protect our families and our communities, and we should never take their courage or their sacrifices for granted. Sharla and I will keep Dustin’s family, and all the families of the Hotshot crew, in our thoughts and prayers.”

The Yarnell Hill wildfire, which now covers more than 8,000 acres, switched direction suddenly on Sunday and overtook the firefighters. Only one member of the 20 person crew survived.

Deford, who hailed from a family of firefighters, joined the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots, part of the Prescott, Ariz. Fire Department, earlier this year.

Tester is a Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus.