Yarnell Fire: Blaze 45% contained, services for Prescott 19 set for Tuesday

YARNELL, AZ - Forest officials say the Arizona wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters is now 45 percent contained.

Nearly 700 fire personnel are fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire near Prescott, and have been able to boost containment from 8 percent to 45 percent as of 6 p.m. Wednesday.

According to Incident Command, crews expect to have the fire fully contained by 12 a.m. Friday, July 12.

In a 3 p.m. news conference, officials said the memorial services for the fallen hotshots have been scheduled for Tuesday, July 9 from 11 a.m .to 1 p.m. at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.

APS told ABC15 it will be covering the costs associated with this service.

The 19-hearse procession from Phoenix to Prescott will take place Sunday morning.

Authorities said $800,000 has so far been raised for the families of the victims.

In a separate Wednesday afternoon news conference, fire officials introduced the team handling the investigation into the firefighters' deaths.

The investigation will take two or three months, officials said. The team will recreate the incident from beginning to end, which will "take some time."

Yavapai County Sheriff's Office spokesman Dwight D'Evelyn said 129 homes and other structures have been lost as of Wednesday. Of the 129 buildings, 2 are in Peeples Valley and the rest are in Yarnell.

Residents of Peeples Valley will be allowed to return home Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The checkpoint for residents will be located at Hays Ranch Road and Highway 89. There will be no access from the south. Residents must enter from the north side.

Officials say Hays Ranch Road will be open so residents can access their properties.

If you are entering Peeples Valley you must show proof of residency to gain entry. If you do not have proof of residency you can be escorted to your residence with a to retrieve the proper paperwork.

Evacuated residents are being advised to call 928-777-7481 to find out if their home is one of those destroyed in the fire.

Fire officials said they're concerned there may be residents in Yarnell who did not heed the evacuation warnings, and may have perished in their homes, however no missing person reports have been filed as of Wednesday.

The new containment figure marked a huge sign of progress against the forest fire in the small town of Yarnell.

It had been zero percent contained since Sunday when flames jumped amid shifting winds and created a death trap for 19 members of a Prescott-based Hotshot crew.

Sunday marked the nation's biggest loss of firefighters since 9/11, and it came as hot, dry weather hit the Southwest.

Jim Whittington, spokesman for Southwest Incident Command Team, said the fire remains at roughly 8,400 acres.

Containment was primarily along the northeast corner and southeast flank of the fire. Firefighters will try to get the whole east side contained Thursday and continue to work the corners of the fire from there.

Officials said Wednesday their goal is to begin letting residents back into their neighborhoods starting Saturday.

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