Crews released from Yarnell Fire; Biden to attend memorial
Some fire crews which have been battling the Yarnell Hill Fire will be released Friday with the fire now 80 percent contained. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5/AP) -
Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Arizona for Tuesday's memorial service honoring the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire, the White House announced Friday.
The 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died Sunday when the wind-whipped wildfire overtook them, closing off any possible escape routes.
Biden will attend the memorial starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Tim's Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
The White House didn't release President Barack Obama's schedule, but he is not expected to attend with Biden already scheduled.
With containment at more than 80 percent Friday morning, some members of the fire crews battling the Yarnell Hill Fire will be released Friday, according to fire team management spokesman Jim Whittington.
As of Friday morning, 550 people remained on the fire, down from 681 Thursday.
Crews from electric power and propane gas companies started restoring service in the town of Yarnell early Friday, where more than 100 homes have been destroyed and 8,400 acres in and around the town have burned in the past week.
By 10 a.m. Friday, officials estimated 30 percent of electrical work had been completed in Yarnell and 20 percent of gas work was done.
Gas tanks were being inspected for leaks, but there was no estimated time when residents would be able to return to the town. Those living in nearby Peeples Valley were allowed to return on Thursday.
The bodies of the firefighters were still being watched around the clock by members of the Phoenix Fire Honor Guard at the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office in downtown Phoenix.
They will be transported in a solemn caravan of 19 hearses back to Prescott Sunday morning, escorted with a full color guard and bagpipe presentation.
Arizona Public Service will cover the entire cost of the service.
The weather could produce some help in the tinder-dry area.
Some much needed rain moved to the north of the Yarnell Hill Fire on Friday morning. There was a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, which could also mean lightning and gusty winds.
Even if the thunderstorms don't develop, it will be breezy at times, with southwest winds up to 25 mph. Low will be in the 90s Friday with partly cloudy skies.
Isolated thunderstorms will appear this weekend with highs in the low 90s.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.