Catastrophic Fires Still Burn in Arizona

Armies of firefighters work to contain the massive blaze while more high winds are expected.
4:14 | 07/02/13

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Transcript for Catastrophic Fires Still Burn in Arizona
and we begin tonight with help on the way, fighting that inferno in arizona, firefighters from around the country flying in. And the pictures still say it all, a wall of gray smoke, a sky of red, and ring of fire and all that remains of one family home a fiery skeleton. And of course everyone now working nonstop in the memory of those 19 young men who were lost. David wright leads us off. Reporter: Today in arizona, a pitched battle to get this deadly blaze under control. More boots on the ground, more planes in the air. But even as firefighters struggle to gain the upper hand, mother nature seems to be conspiring against them. Today's forecast, calling for hurricane strength winds, 80 miles per hour. Expect to see extreme fire behavior, rapid rates of spread, long flame links. Reporter: That appears to be what happened sunday, as searing desert temperatures force columns of air into the atmosphere. Plumes of hot air and cinders -- in some cases, four miles high, the largest one expert had ever seen. A sudden shift in air pressure, during an afternoon rainstorm, and those columns come crashing down, spreading fire faster than a human can sprint. Today we learned new details about the final moments of those 19 firefighters, including the last photo of the team, one of the men texted it to his wife. Also, a mystery solved, the identity of the lone survivor. He was on a hillside within a mile or two of the crew so that he is not only in radio contact but visual contact. brendan McNone na saw that the weather conditions were changing and radioed back to the team. Reporter: He saw they were in danger and he warned them? He warned them. Reporter: He's said to be brief stricken. It's shadowed the opening of the world's oldest rodeo since 1988. Last night they read out 19 names -- and a riderless horse made one final lap to honor these real life western heros. Let's not forget there are 500 other real life heros still in harm's way on the fire lines. It's particularly treacherous there because the temperatures here in arizona have been rising faster than any other state. The fire season across the west is now two months longer than it was 20 years ago. David wright still there on the front lines. Thank you so much, david. For the big picture on what's ahead let's bring in abc's sam champion. Start out west with the heat there. Any relief on the way to arizona and the rest of the west? The worst possible situation, hundreds of record high temperatures, amazing drought through the area. Look at that little area of high pressure. That's hope for easing in the temperatures but not for a couple of days. Sacramento has a little break, enough to help. In the arizona area it's going to take past the friday mark into saturday and sunday for cooler air to work in. But it's just temporary. First part of next week we're back to big time heat. All across this country 18 million people getting ready to travel for the 4th of july. What about floods and ra it has to be stragerring to look at pictures like we have coming out from new york. They really going down to the carolinas. In florida scenes of flooding neighborhoods with three times the amount of rainfall in just a regular month. Ten to 13 inches of rain has been falling. Look at that area from new york to boston to washington, you see the lighter shades of blue there. A drier air mass will move there by thursday and shove it down to georgia, eastern tennessee and kent. There will be just a little break in that I 95 corridor. Thank you so much, sam. A lot of reasons to be watchful on this 4th of july as we all travel.

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