CAPE TOWN, South Africa — President Barack Obama is expressing his condolences to the families of the 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona wildfire.

The firefighters were heroes and highly skilled professionals who quote — “put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet,” Obama says.

Obama, who is traveling in Africa, says the federal government will be in close contact with state and local officials in Arizona to provide support.

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.