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19 Firefighters Killed in Arizona; Record Breaking Heat Wave; President Bush in Africa; Violence Surging Across Egypt; George Zimmerman: In His Own Words

Aired July 1, 2013 - 08:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had no time. We got the dogs. We got the wife. And it was gone.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: They were heroes. Breaking overnight, the worst loss of life for firefighters since 9/11. 19 killed while battling wildfires in Arizona. We're live with the latest.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Key evidence. The trial of George Zimmerman back in session this hour. Will this video tape statement from him be allowed as evidence? The verdict could depend on it.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: And little lapper. The 16-month-old girl swimming by herself. The video going viral and causing controversy. Her father speaks out this morning.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: What you need to know --

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: I put the program in place to protect the country.

ANNOUNCER: What you just have to see.


UNIDENTIFIED BOY: In Afghanistan. Too far.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michael Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning, everybody. Welcome back to NEW DAY. I'm Chris Cuomo.

It is Monday, July 1st. Just about 8:00 in the East. BOLDUAN: Yes, good morning. I'm Kate Bolduan. We're joined by news anchor Michaela Pereira.

And we are covering breaking news today. Arizona is reeling this morning from the tragic loss of 19 firefighters, an elite crew killed while battling the fierce Yarnell Hill wildfire north of Phoenix.

CUOMO: Here's what we know -- the men were digging out a fire line. They were trying to stop this fire, take its fuel, when they were overcome by flames, making it the deadliest day for U.S. firefighters since 9/11.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer calling it as dark a day as she can remember. The fire has burned through 6,000 acres since Friday.

CNN's Kyung Lah is live in Prescott, Arizona, with more.

Good morning, Kyung.


As the sunrises, we're expecting the winds to become more erratic, a condition that firefighters have been dealing with -- low humidity, very high temperatures, fighting a fire in an area that hasn't burned in some 40 years. It was a deadly come combination for an elite team of firefighters.


LAH (voice-over): The Yarnell Hill fire began moving at a ferocious pace on Sunday, suddenly changing direction, claiming the most firefighter lives since 9/11, trapping 19 firefighters with no way out.

CHIEF DAN FRAIJO, PRESCOTT FIRE DEPARTMENT: We're devastated. We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you'll ever meet. I mean, right now, we're in crisis.

LAH: The firefighters were part of the Prescott Fire Department Hot Shot crew, getting their name because they worked in the hottest, most dangerous parts of the wildfire, confronting wildfires up close and setting up barriers to stop the destructive spread.

FRAIJO: These are the guys that will go out there with 40, 50 pounds of equipment and walk five miles, they will sleep out there. These are quality people.

LAH: The crew was tasked with digging a fire line and creating an escape route. The flames hadn't even touched Prescott. But like many other fire departments across the state, the Prescott team jumped into help fight the blaze. The fire which began Friday has burned at least 6,000 acres and at least 100 structures have been destroyed.

Forced to evacuate, some residents had only minutes to grab their belongings. Others witnessed their homes burn as they fled the scene. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went up to get the wife because the fire was getting close. And I woke her up and got the evacuation notice and we had no time. We got the dogs. We got the wife and it's gone.

LAH: Officials believe lightning may have sparked the fire. The area has been experiencing severe drought conditions.


LAH: Firefighters here say that team, the Hot Shot crew did deploy their fire shelters. That's a move of last resort, an extraordinarily tough day for the fighter here on the ground. They have to grieve but, Chris, they have got to get back on that fire line because they have an enormous job ahead of them.

CUOMO: Absolutely, Kyung. And now, they have lost some of their best. Thank you for the reporting. These are like the Special Forces of the firefighters.

BOLDUAN: That's a great perspective from Kyung. They are dealing with tragedy but still dealing with this fire at this very moment.

The death of these 19 heroes means -- listen to this -- over 20 percent of the entire Prescott Fire Department is now gone. Their friends, family, colleagues are all just heartbroken this morning.

We're joined by Wade Ward. He's the public information officer for the Prescott Fire Department.

Mr. Ward, first off, our hearts go out to you and everyone in the area. It must be such a horrible reality to be waking up to, 20 percent of the fire department now just gone in one fire. I guess first I want to get your thoughts on as we're looking at images of this very elite firefighting team, just your thoughts on what your community is dealing with this morning.

WADE WARD, PRESCOTT FIRE DEPARTMENT, PIO: Like you said it's not reality for us yet. It hasn't even set in. It's a tragic moment for in the only the Prescott Fire Department but the entire city of Prescott, as well as the firefighting community across the country.

BOLDUAN: I want to ask you about the crew. I heard one person say when you ask about these firefighters, you know them or you know somebody who knows them. That's how tight knit this community is.

What can you tell us about this team?

WARD: I can tell you like you've heard. It's a very elite group of people that are highly trained, highly motivated, very fit. They know exactly what they're doing. They're situational awareness is at the highest at all times when they're on the line.

We don't know what happened. Obviously, this fire is under investigation. The incident within the incident is under investigation. It's just a tragic thing no matter what. BOLDUAN: As you say the investigation will clearly continue. These people are so highly trained. Their jobs come with so much risk. But early on, we're hearing it sounds like winds are real problem with this fire and that could have played a bit in putting them in such a precarious situation.

Is that your understanding this early on?

WARD: To be honest we don't know what happened at this point. All we know is fires create their own weather. We also had monsoons that just started here in Arizona. They just started to accumulate here in Prescott in the last three days, and yesterday was the most severe winds we had along with lots of lightning strikes and wind.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, clearly you're dealing with this tragedy but you're also facing this fire that's just roaring uncontrollably at this point. What do you tell firefighters, all of these heroes that are now going to have to head back out and now probably already back out there having to take on this blaze when they know that they've lost 19 of some of their closest friends?

WARD: Right now the men and women have to do their jobs like we do every day. It's very difficult for me to stand here right now and communicate to you the best I can, but we do our jobs and we do the best we can. But this is -- it's unbelievable.

BOLDUAN: I think that's the only way to say it.

Wade Ward, public information officer for the Prescott Fire Department -- thank you so much for taking the time and again condolences to you and all of the families in Prescott this morning. Thank you so much.

WARD: You're welcome.

BOLDUAN: He said it. It's like impossible they're not even dealing with the reality at this moment.

CUOMO: No, they can. You see it on his face. The pain, the shock, exhaustion and the task ahead of them, they have to keep going.

Right behind you could see the purple, that's the smoke mixing with the early sun, even that far from the fire. And as they're trying to figure out what happened here, we know the hot shots had to go to their fire shelters and they didn't work this time.

Let's bring in Indra Petersons, she understands this very well. They're saying fire shelter. But explain to us exactly what this is.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Right. This is something we're trained to do especially when we cover wildfires in California. We actually trained how to use these fire shelters. It looks almost like an aluminum blanket as seen here at this picture.

And I want to explain something. Keep in mind, there's two types of heat. You actually put this over you at the perfect timing. The reason I talk about timing is if you put it on too soon, remember, it's so warm inside one of these shelters, it's hard to breathe. You can only hold your breath about 15 seconds.

But, of course, you put it on too late, you can be overtaken by the flames. So, it's kind of like just this aluminum blanket. When you have the convected heat, 100 percent of that, you feel how hot it is inside this blanket. You're laying down on the ground. The ground is the only thing keeping you cool and holding you down. That's why you need to have gloves on, because sometimes, if you don't wear gloves, you can burn your hands. You're unable to hold that shelter down.

And the radiant heat, the fire, the flame itself, only 95 percent of that is reflected. Unfortunately, this is the last ditch effort to that these firefighters were using, as we talk about that, and we think about the timing. It's so hot in there one of the things you're taught, no matter how hot it is, do not lift it up because it's that smoke and chemical, it's way worse on the outside. It's suffocation if you time this out wrong or if you lift it up, that you just can't handle it, that you ingest all those to toxins.

BOLDUAN: You have to imagine what they were facing to take that drastic last step.


CUOMO: Give me bit of a segue next with the temperature. We heard the firefighter say the monsoon is coming but we're getting the wind. We're not getting the wetness. The heat has been so bad. Temperature, wind, what does it mean for this?

PETERSONS: It also means it's so dry. If you have these thunderstorms, that's good, that's rain, but it's so dry, you're talking about single digits (INAUDIBLE) that the rain is not reaching the ground. All you're dealing with is winds and dry lightning.

CUOMO: All right. And obviously, heat is a huge factor, with the winds, it's just whipping everything up. And as we know, the temperatures are hammering much of the western U.S. So, not a lot of help.

In many areas right now, it's never been hotter. Death Valley already one of the hottest places on earth reached 128 degrees. That's a world record.

CNN's Tory Dunnan is live in Death Valley this morning.

Good morning, Tory.


Well, when you walk outside, the heat really hits you like a ton of bricks, especially when the wind just whipping around as it is right now. But it's just after 5:00 in the morning here. Temperatures 107 degrees and it's only expected to go up.


DUNNAN (voice-over): A deadly heat wave from Texas to the Western Seaboard.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to take a toll on your body.

DUNNAN: Scorching through southern California, where a hiker died and in Arizona where a firefighter was taken to the hospital for dehydration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to come out here in the middle of the heat.

DUNNAN: The sweltering temps may be to blame for the death of an elderly Las Vegas man. It's affected flights in Arizona and California where dozens of small planes were grounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it's 110 to 115 degrees, the air is thinner. The thinner the air, the less lift on the airplane.

DUNNAN: Animals are also feeling the burn. At the Houston zoo, monkeys turn to popsicles.

In Death Valley, the wind is like a hair drier rather than a cool breeze.

(on camera): The high today being Sunday was --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very beautiful. So, it's worth it.

DUNNAN (voice-over): Tourists are flocking at the chance to witness record breaking temps.

(on camera): Describe how you are feeling?


DUNNAN (voice-over): But down here, it's not too hot to handle. They put the phrase, hot enough to fry an egg to the test.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just not bad.

DUNNAN (on camera): Did you really just eat that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really did. I really It's not bad.

DUNNAN (voice-over): The West Coast has turned into a life-like oven.


DUNNAN: And, Chris and Kate, in just a few hours Death Valley park rangers will actually be checking the official thermometer which is not far from here. They're going to try to get reading. It's clear they are look for the record temperatures but at the same time they are looking to get that important information out there so that people know how hot it is and what their limitation should be.

CUOMO: All right. Tory, thank you very much.

We started doing hits with Tory at 6:00 this morning. It was 102 degrees. It's 107 right behind there right there. So, the sun is not even up, it's been five degrees.

BOLDUAN: Quite a day ahead. Tory, thanks so much.

Other stories we're watching:

Right now, President Obama is in Tanzania. These are live pictures that we're looking at, I believe, of an arrival ceremony for him. Tomorrow, he'll be joined by his predecessor George W. Bush. The men will take place in a wreath laying ceremony commemorating the 1988 U.S. embassy attack there.

Today, President Bush and his wife Laura are in neighboring Zambia, on a humanitarian mission, helping women there fight cancer.

And CNN's Robyn Curnow was able to speak with them in an "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" exclusive.

Robyn is joining us with more on your conversation. Tell us more about -- there is wide-ranging conversation with the former president and first lady.


And we're here in Pretoria because we are still keeping an eye on Nelson Mandela's condition. But we did get to speak to President Bush. As the former commander in chief during 9/11 I had to ask him opinion on the Edward Snowden leaks.


CURNOW: Do you think he's a traitor?

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I know he damaged the country. The Obama administration will deal with it.

CURNOW: Do you think it's possible for one man to damage the security of the nation?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I think he damaged the security of the country.

CURNOW: And when it comes to surveillance, there can be real time understanding of what you're Googling --

GEORGE W. BUSH: I put the program in place to protect the country and one of the certainties is civil liberties were guaranteed.

CURNOW: So you don't think there is a compromise between security and privacy?

GEORGE W. BUSH: I think there needs to be a balance and as the president described, there is a proper balance.

CURNOW: You don't want to criticize the Obama administration?

GEORGE W. BUSH: It doesn't do any good. It's a hard job. He's got plenty on his agenda and it's difficult. Former president doesn't need to make it harder.

CURNOW: Because in the polls you're --

GEORGE W. BUSH: Could care less.

CURNOW: You don't care?


CURNOW: Whether people think you're favorable or unfavorable?

GEORGE W. BUSH: Only time I really cared was on Election Day. You know, I guess it's nice. Let me rephrase that. Thank you for bringing it up.

CURNOW: You like the idea that people perhaps are looking at you differently?

GEORGE W. BUSH: You know, I mean, ultimately history will judge the decisions that I made. And I won't be around because it's going to take a while for the objective historians to show up.

So I'm pretty comfortable with it. I did what I did. I know the spirit this much I did it.


CURNOW: So, he's comfortable with his legacy. Meanwhile, we know that in the last hour, that clinic has been opened in Zambia. It's to treat and diagnose cervical cancer. And the Bushes are hoping that that clinic will help save thousands of lives. Back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Robyn, thank you for bringing that interview to us. And you can watch more of Robyn's full exclusive interview with President Bush, including more on his global health initiative in Africa tonight on the "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer.

There's also a lot of news developing at this hour, so let's get straight to Michaela for the latest headline. Good morning.

PEREIRA: Good morning to you. Good morning to you at home. Making news, surging violence in Egypt marking President Mohamed Morsi's first anniversary in power. At least 16 people killed, 781 others injured across southern (ph) provinces Sunday. Protesters taking to the streets demanding Morsi's resignation, giving him one day to step down from office.

Now, if he doesn't leave, they'll begin a civil disobedience movement. Earlier, protesters stormed the main headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, which helped Morsi win his election. Authorities in Massachusetts building their murder case against NFL start, Aaron Hernandez. Three other people are now being held as potential accomplices in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd. In the meantime, Hernandez's former team, the New England Patriots is telling fans they can trade in their Aaron Hernandez number 81 jersey for a New Jersey -- new Patriots jersey with another player's name and number.

House representatives is the next battleground for an immigration reform bill that's already passed the Senate. House Republicans are set to hold a closed door meeting next week to discuss the way forward. And at least one high ranking GOP lawmaker is promising to rewrite the plan, which would create a path to citizenship for millions of uncommented immigrants, while at the same time, boosting border security.

A group of Swedish tourists In New York City did not have this on their itinerary. Their sightseeing chopper forced to make an emergency landing in the Hudson River. Two adults and two children have reportedly on board. Officials say they were treated at a hospital for minor injuries. The pilot says the chopper lost power.

Now, how about this. A dog almost caused a cycling disaster during the second stage of the Tour de France. Check it out. Video here toward the top of your screen. White dog darting out. A man, presumably his companion, considers grabbing the pup, but it's too late. A huge group of cyclists close in and just misses the dog as it pulls out of the way.

So far, the Tour de France has gone two for two on mishaps. The other's happened (ph) during the first stage, a bus got lodged under the finish line banner. Somebody wish they brought their tape measure to work hat day (ph).

CUOMO: Great dexterity. And my guest, that was a Jack Russell Terrier. That dog, crazy.


BOLDUAN: Even the guy who ran out, though, it's a pretty good pivot move --


CUOMO: It's going to be you.

BOLDUAN: I'm getting out the way to bike. That's for sure.

CUOMO: Coming on NEW DAY, George Zimmerman in his own words. Will jurors in his murder trial get to hear what he had to say to police? HLNs Nancy Grace will break it all down for us.

BOLDUAN: And, a baby in a pool. That's not unusual, but this baby is. Adorable and swimming.

CUOMO: Watch her go. BOLDUAN: On her own.

CUOMO: Little Elizabeth. Taking a breath.

BOLDUAN: Why this video is leading to quite a bit of concern.

CUOMO: I can't swim like that.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY, everybody. It is a critical week in the George Zimmerman trial. The judge will decide if the jury will get to hear George Zimmerman's words to police hours after he shot Trayvon Martin. That evidence could help make or break the prosecution's case.

Let's bring in HLN's Nancy Grace, joining us from Atlanta. Good morning to you, Nancy. Nice to have you as always. Thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: I'll answer this first one because it's too easy for you. The judge is going to let in this interview that George Zimmerman did with the police. There's really no reason for her to keep it out. So, it will be there. So, there are two big issues to struggle with. One, a question of fact, one, of law. Let's start with fact. Do you believe the jury has enough in front of it right now to determine who started this fight, who was in control during it?

GRACE: I don't think it's that simple. And I'll tell you why. The law is this. If you are pursuing someone, you are the aggressor and they have the right to defend themselves. Here, it's blurred, because we know Zimmerman was the initial aggressor. He got out of his car to go pursue Trayvon Martin. They told him not to do it. He did it any way with a loaded gun.

Now, this is what the defense is banking on. Zimmerman's defense is banking on the fact that they're going to claim Zimmerman then backed off, quit pursuing, and Trayvon Martin came on him, attacked him, beat his head into the ground, and he had to defend himself.

CUOMO: And legally, that would restart the analysis, right? legally, that would restart the analysis?

GRACE: Exactly. Absolutely. And therefore, if that happens, then Zimmerman is no longer the aggressor as was first thought. Now, the state suffered a blow at the end of the week. One of their own witnesses and they knew this was coming. It was basically they put the witness up knowing the defense would if they didn't who said he saw Trayvon Martin clearly pummeling Zimmerman.

He called it a mixed martial arts move on Zimmerman. So, the defense is going to claim, hey, he was getting his head beaten into the ground. Of course, he shot Trayvon Martin. The state is going to argue he followed a defenseless, unarmed high school junior, and now, the junior is dead. Now, don't be so fast on those statements, Cuomo. I agree with you. They're probably going to come in, but, the defense is going to be arguing, one, was Zimmerman in custody?

Two, did he get his Miranda rights? If either of those fall short, not so fast, the statement may not come in. I think they're also going to be looking at other statements he gave to show they were inconsistent with the statement to police. And there's a big legal foundation you've got to lay before inconsistent statements can come in in front of a jury.

CUOMO: All right. So, let's say they come in. So, we left the fact analysis thing for the jury. You know, Good, Jonathan Good, said that he thought it was Zimmerman who was on the bottom, but he went back inside and made a 911 call who knows what happened during that. So, the big decision becomes this, Nancy. The prosecution, if they are allowed to use the interview that Zimmerman did with police.

Do they -- what is their strategy play? Do you use that or do you try to force Zimmerman to have to take the stand? What do you do? It's a key decision.

GRACE: Oh, let me tell you something. Go for broke. You can't guess what the defense is going to do. My theory when I was prosecuting was give it all to the jury, everything I've got. If other people like defense lawyers want to prop up on TV and claim overkill, overkill, they don't have a dog in the fight.

Who cares what they say. You put your case up for both sides. Give it everything you've got then pray.

CUOMO: Well -- but it gets tricky, right, because if the defense watches what they do with this interview and says, you know what, I don't think they're meeting the burden, I'm not putting Zimmerman on the stand. I'm not even making a case. This trial is over in the middle of the week, you know, the beginning of next week, the latest. That's the calculation, right?

GRACE: It may very well be that way. I still think the defense is going to put up something, somebody. Even if it's somebody to say that's Zimmerman on the phone call screaming for help. All right? When the defense puts nobody up very typically, the defense gives the final closing statement to the jury which is very, very powerful.

I predict they are going to put up witnesses. I also predict we are going to see inconsistent statements made by Zimmerman. The defense may be able to explain those away, but here's the problem with that. A lot is riding on whether this jury believes Zimmerman was in fear for his life. Otherwise, you got to explain a grown man out in the middle of the night walking around with a gun loaded, live ammo, looking for some kid who was just going home to his dad.

And you know, another thing we got to look at is the whole race issue. Let's reverse the race. If it were a Black male following a White boy in some fancy neighborhood and then the kid got gunned down, would there be as much drama around this? So, remember, lady justice is blind. She doesn't care what color anybody is and neither do I. I want justice.

CUOMO: I understand the point, Nancy. And to be fair, I've never covered a case like the one you just described, you know, which tells you something about whether or not they get the attention that it does in this instance. Nancy Grace, thank you very much.

GRACE: Tell it, Cuomo. Tell it.

CUOMO: I will. I'll make my witness on that. Thank you very much for helping us all, including me understand the case better. I look forward to talking to you the rest of the week. You want more Nancy Grace? Of course you do. You can watch her on HLN weeknights at 8:00 p.m. eastern. The trial begins within minutes, and we'll be bringing it to you live -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, this video has many parents asking what? That baby is 16 months old, you guys, going for a swim all by herself. What her father has to say about this? A little bit of controversy surrounding it.