19 members of firefighting team killed by wildfire in Arizona were “heroes,” President Barack Obama said Monday.

“They were heroes — highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet,” Obama said

“In recent days, hundreds of firefighters have battled extremely dangerous blazes across Arizona and the Southwest,” he added. “The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need.” he added,

“But today, Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters and all whose lives have been upended by this terrible tragedy.” he said.

The blaze, which started Friday, began during a punishing heat wave in which temperatures reached well into triple-digits. Fraijo said the hot, dry conditions fueled the fire. About 200 firefighters were fighting the fire. The fire, which investigators believe was started by lightning, destroyed more than 200 buildings.  The 19 firefighters were fighting the blaze Sunday near the town of Yarnell, Arizona about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix, when they were killed.