Deadly fire: a home is destroyed in Yarnell.

Deadly fire: a home is destroyed in Yarnell. Photo: AP

Nineteen firefighters have been killed while battling a fast-moving wildfire menacing a small town in central Arizona, the US Wildland Fire Aviation says.

The firefighters, who were believed to be members of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots, died while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire, near the small town of Yarnell about 130 kilometres north-west of Phoenix.


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


The fire has charred about 1000 acres of land since Friday amid tinder-dry heat wave conditions, leading to scores of evacuations near Yarnell.

The fire was likely caused by a lightning strike on Saturday night, according to Fox News.


The Arizona Republic newspaper reported that about half of the town's 500 homes were expected to be destroyed by the uncontained fire.