President Bush offered condolences Friday to the families, friends and co-workers of four federal firefighters killed battling a fierce blaze racing through the Southern California mountains.

Bush passed on his thoughts and prayers for the four men — and for a fifth who is gravely injured with burns and severe respiratory damage — in a call to Tom Tidwell, the U.S. Forest Service's deputy regional forester, White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

"He also praised the special work that firefighters do, their compassion for others, going into harm's way and risking their lives. And said that their work is an indication of the compassion of Americans," Snow said. "He also said he hopes that whoever is the perpetrator will be caught quickly and brought to justice."

Click here to read about California firefighters battling deadly blaze

Authorities said the blaze in the San Jacinto Mountains was arson. It has blackened some 38 square miles and forced hundreds to evacuate.