John Dougherty at InvestigativeMEDIA has written a fascinating in-depth article called “Yarnell Hill Fire: The Granite Mountain Hotshots Never Should’ve Been Deployed, Mounting Evidence Shows“. It’s a bit long but a detailed and worthy read that answers many questions about the tragic loss of our Arizona 19.
“We are going to hallowed ground,” says Jim Paxon, spokesman for the Arizona Forestry Division, moments before leading reporters and TV crews to the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in a June 30 wildfire.
“They are almost superhuman,” Paxon drawls to reporters gathered on the morning of July 23. “As we go up there, there’s a Granite Mountain Hotshots shirt on a cactus. We would ask that you touch the shirt … in reverence to the loss.”
Paxon chokes up and begins describing a fissure in a granite boulder forming a cross that flanks the site where the men were incinerated by a mammoth, manzanita-fueled blowtorch. Among wildland firefighters, the oily plant is well known for its explosive characteristics. The fire was so hot that it caused some of the granite boulders to crack. Continue reading on InvestigativeMEDIA.com
Today, July 9, 2013, there will be a celebration of life memorial in Prescott Valley from 11:00 AM – 1:00 PMPacific to honor Arizona’s 19 elite firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire.
AZCentral.com reports all available tickets for the service at the 5,000-seat Tim’s Toyota Center are gone with bulk of the tickets being issued to family of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew and support “fire family” personnel.
Live streaming coverage of the 2 hour service can be viewed on AZCentral / NBC.
On July 1st a caravan of 19 vans took the bodies to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to perform autopsies since the Yavapai County authorities didn’t have the resources to handle so many casualties.
The remains of our Fallen Firefighters will be escorted, with full Honor Guard, from Phoenix to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office on Sunday, July 7, beginning at 10 a.m. PDT. A majority of the route from Phoenix to Prescott Valley is open to the public for those who would like to pay tribute, and the procession route is available on YarnellFallenFirefighters.com.
Then a Memorial Service will be held Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific.
We wanted to take another moment to honor our Granite Mountain Hotshots with several photos we found on Facebook this week, and provide some links to several organizations that are raising funds for the families of these heroes. Also please take a moment to view a video tribute by elledub1015 at the bottom.
Wade Parker sent this photo of a crew mate and the approaching fire by text message to his mother before he and 18 other firefighters were fatally overrun by flames in the Arizona blaze. “This thing is running straight for Yarnell,” he wrote in the 4:04 p.m. text. (Wade Parker / June 30, 2013) via LA Times
A chain with 19 links hangs locked on the fence outside the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew fire station, Monday, July 1, 2013 in Prescott, Ariz. The chain, left by Slade Graves, has 19 links to signify 19 men linked. Graves said she wanted to give the combination of the lock to the survivor of the team. Photo via FB pg
The Prescott Firefighter’s Charities is operated by Prescott firefighters, and they are ensuring 100% of any and all donations will go to the families of the fallen firefighters. No money will be diverted for administration costs, advertising, etc. The only exception is a 2.3% processing fee charged by PayPal, which is a lower fee than typical credit card transaction rates. Learn more
Yavapai College is creating a scholarship fund for the children and spouses of the 19 firefighters who died battling the wildfire in Yarnell. Officials at the Prescott school say some of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team members were Yavapai College students and many were in its fire science program. The Granite Mountain Hotshots Scholarship Fund will provide two-year scholarships for the community college education needs of the children and spouses of the fallen firefighters. Read more
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families of the fallen Arizona 19 (a.k.a. Prescott 19), the cities of Yarnell and Prescott, and the entire FF/EMS Brotherhood. Rest in peace…
Arizona suffered a devastating loss yesterday. Nineteen firefighters from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, died Sunday fighting an out-of-control wildfire in Yarnell, a tiny Yavapai County town roughly 80 miles northwest of Phoenix.
About half of the town’s 500 homes were feared destroyed by the blaze, which began early Friday evening and had spread to 8,374 acres by early Monday. All of Yarnell and the neighboring Peeples Valley were evacuated. Fire crews reported no containment as of Monday morning (1-Jul-2013).
The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildland fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters — 340 — were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots, established in 2002, were an elite ground firefighting crew known for their innovative problem-solving and history of safe, aggressive fire suppression.
Members of the crew were highly trained, came from diverse backgrounds, and worked long hours in extreme environmental conditions doing the most demanding of fireline tasks.
They carried 50-70 pounds on their back, hiked seven miles or more to where they needed to work, and worked up to 14 hours, sometimes longer.
The average age of the men in the hotshot crew was 27-years-old.
“They have to be ready to leave for an assignment on two hours’ notice, which sometimes means missing family events,”Wade Ward of the Prescott FD said last week. “They have to be prepared to be on that assignment for 21 days, get two days rest at home, and possibly be sent out on another 21-day assignment.”
Prior to the Yarnell Hill fire which took nearly all of their lives, the team had just returned from a wildfire in New Mexico.
Just one week ago, the same crew also led the charge against the massive Doce fire in the Prescott National Forest.
We’d like to take a moment to extend our condolences to the elite fallen firefighters, their families, the cities of Yarnell and Prescott and the entire firefighter nation. Words can never adequately express the gratitude we have for all first responders who sacrifice so much to help keep us safe. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by this and other wildfires ravaging the nation. Bill & Janet Liebsch, Fedhealth, Tucson AZ