Firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire
A handout photo of wildfire in Central Arizona town of Yarnell - Reuters

At least 19 US firefighters have been killed while battling a blaze in central Arizona, local authorities said.

The firefighters were caught in the blaze near the town of Yarnell, said Arizona forestry spokesperson Art Morrison. The death toll was confirmed by the Prescott Fire Department, where the firefighters were based.

The wildfire, which is believed to have been broken out after a bolt of lightning on Friday, 28 June, spread rapidly due to the low humidity in the area.

"It has been confirmed that 19 wildland firefighters have lost their lives on the Yarnell Hill fire [in] Arizona. I ask for prayers for the families and friends of these brave men and women," said the US Wildland Fire Aviation service.

Several houses have also been evacuated in the town, which is located about 85 miles (130km) north-west of Phoenix.

At least three houses have been damaged by the fire and nearly 1,000 acres of area have been burnt, said officials. Around 200 firefighters are believed to be involved in dousing the wildfire.

A Facebook page in memory of the Prescott firefighters has also been created.