President Obama on Monday offered his condolences to the families of 19 firefighters who died battling a raging wildfire in central Arizona.

Obama praised the firefighters as “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,” in a statement.

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

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