McCain, Flake promise help for Yarnell firefighter families

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake met with firefighters working on the Yarnell Hill Fire, and also with the families of the 19 firefighters who died on Sunday.

"I can't even begin to express my condolences," Sen. Flake said afterwards.

"We heard their concerns. It was, 'How do we make do? How do our kids go without their dad?'" Flake added.

McCain, who flew to Arizona after spending the 4th of July in Afghanistan, said people half a world away were asking him about the fire, and sending their condolences.

"Right now, we're trying to do what we can to comfort these families," McCain told reporters. He and Flake said they are working to free up emergency federal funding to provide assistance for the 19 families.

McCain called the Yarnell Hill tragedy another reminder that Arizona's parched forests need attention.

"We need to clear forests to make sure future damage isn't as catastrophic as what we just saw," McCain said, specifically citing forest thinning projects, and adding more tankers for the US Forest Service as two legislative goals of his.

Both Republican Senators expressed gratitude to Vice President Joe Biden for his planned trip to Tuesday's memorial.

"To me, it reflects the [Obama] administration's concern and sorrow, and we're thankful for it," McCain said.