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Prescott e-News

The Yarnell Hill Fire

 

Arizona’s Hometown Radio Group presents:
“A Tribute to the Yarnell 19″

(Click the picture below to listen)

mem1 (1)


Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial ServiceFamilies with Firefighter's Salute

Click here to download an audio copy of the memorial service.

Click here to listen to/download Brendan McDonough’s “Hotshot’s Prayer”


Here is the link to the State Forester’s report on the Yarnell Hill Fire


Click here to donateThe 100 Club will update this memorial as we continue to receive more information about the tragedy that occurred while fighting the Yarnell Fire on June 30, 2013. It is confirmed 19 firefighters, members of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots were lost while battling the blaze. Our hearts and prayers are with these families, the Prescott Fire Department, and the community affected by this fire. We will post family bank account funds as we receive them.

Click here to help our fallen heroes and their families.


BREAKING NEWS: 19 die in Yarnell fire; 18 were Prescott firefighters

Granite Mountain Hotshots – Fallen Firefighters

PRESCOTT, AZ (July 1, 2013) – The City of Prescott is mourning the loss of the 19 heroes of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who gave their lives yesterday fighting the Yarnell Fire.

The City of Prescott is first and foremost committed to assisting those who have been impacted by this tragedy and tending to their needs. The City asks that the families and others in mourning must be afforded the space they need to begin the healing process.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives are:

First Name

Last Name

Age

Andrew

Ashcraft

29

Anthony

Rose

23

Christopher

MacKenzie

30

Clayton

Whitted

28

Dustin

Deford

24

Garret

Zuppiger

27

Grant

McKee

21

Jesse

Steed

36

Joe

Thurston

32

John

Percin

24

Kevin

Woyjeck

21

Eric

Marsh

43

Robert

Caldwell

23

Scott

Norris

28

Sean

Misner

26

Travis

Carter

31

Travis

Turbyfill

27

Wade

Parker

22

William

Warneke

25


Granite Mountain Hot Shots’ remains receive heroes’ welcome in Prescott

Lisa Irish
The Daily Courier

Monday, July 08, 2013

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Hearses carrying the crew members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots arrive in Prescott and travel along Montezuma Street Sunday afternoon. Thousands of people lined the streets, some waiting as long as eight hours to say welcome home and goodbye.
Tim Wiederaenders/The Daily Courier
The procession of 19 hearses begins passing under the Granite Dells Parkway overpass on Highway 89A, with Granite Mountain in the background.

As the procession escorting the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots home came past the courthouse plaza in Prescott late Sunday afternoon, more than a thousand people stopped talking. Some put their hands over their hearts, while others clapped. Children waved flags, and many cried.

“We want these young families to know how much we appreciate the sacrifice their loved ones made to protect us,” Barb Corkle said. “We want to show them that we love them, that we will help them by making donations, and whatever else we can do.”

The 19 elite firefighters died while attacking the Yarnell Hill Fire on Sunday, June 30, just a week after they and other firefighters helped save peoples’ home from the Doce fire in Prescott.

“It’s just a tragedy and we want the families and the community to know that we are here to help the community and give them support,” Cottonwood Fire Marshal Rick Contreras said.

Daisy Mountain Fire Chief Mike Nichols said he and several other chiefs were there to help with the procession and coverage so Prescott firefighters could do what they needed to do.

“The fire service is a true brotherhood and we are here to support Prescott Fire in their time of need,” Sedona Fire Chief Kris Kazian said. “We help as best we can where it’s needed the most.”

Madeline Fowler said the tragic loss of the hotshots has been hard, since everyone here knows someone who was close to them.

“We all depend on firefighters, and I think they’re underpaid for what they do,” Jody Deneke said.

The procession of 19 hearses, a fire engine, and motorcycle escorts started in Phoenix around noon. Honors were presented as the fallen firefighters were taken from the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to the waiting vehicles.

Flags of the United States, Arizona, and local fire departments lined the path to the vehicles and Honor Guards flanked the path to the vehicles, holding ceremonial axes.  Ladder trucks held a flag above the path and a fire engine accompanied the procession from Phoenix to Prescott.

The procession headed north along I-17, then took the Carefree Highway to Highway 60 through Wickenburg, then Highway 93 to Highway 89 through Yarnell. Firefighters still working on the Yarnell Hill fire paused in their labors as the procession passed by.

Then it was on to Prescott, where the caravan passed first through downtown and then by the Granite Mountain Hotshots; station on Sixth Street. The five-hour journey ended at the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office in Prescott Valley.

“As a firefighter, I feel I need to be out here to show my respect,” said Tucson’s Northwest Firefighter Richie Fult.

The areas near the Granite Mountain Hotshots station and the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office were only for families and firefighters and were closed to the public and media before the procession.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots were escorted by the Joint Arizona Honor Guard, and within each hearse, an honor guard member and flag accompanied each fallen firefighter so they were never left alone until delivered to their families.

“It’s worth noting an Honor Guard Member will be with each fallen firefighter until they are returned to their family, and have been since they were brought out of the fire,” Incident Spokesman Bill Morse said.

Earlier in the afternoon, two teenaged girls finished tying 19 purple ribbons on the railing outside the Prescott National Forest office on Cortez Street before quickly going inside.

At Prescott Fire Department’s Station 71 on White Spar Road, Kendyll Garcia of Tempe placed a poster she’d made near the memorial outside.

“We know several Prescott firefighters,” Dee Rock said. “We thought this was a good spot to show our support for the firefighters and our respect for the deceased.”

Each time an engine left the station, people in the crowd waved at firefighters and yelled, “Thank you!”

“I want to show support not just for the families of the ones that died, but also for that 20th hotshot who survived,” Janet Potts of Prescott said. “He’s going to need that too.”

Claude Angeli, with the Prescott Regional Communications Center, said he spoke with some of the hotshots during calls, and although it’s hard to watch, he brought his son so he could see how the community comes together.

“What hit it home for me were the 19 riderless horses in the parade with the hotshots boots, helmets and tools,” Dennis Karp said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Members of the Veterans Memorial Pipers Corps, including Don Mansfield and Marla and Patrick O’Halloran, played the bagpipes and drums outside the station.

“We’re honored to play for the firefighters and their families,” Mansfield said. “Last night we played with the Central Yavapai Pipers, and bagpipers have come in for the memorials and vigils from Phoenix, Texas, Georgia, and New York.”

“It’s just a heartbreaking experience,” said John Adamski, a retired Mesa firefighter. “We wanted to give support to all the people up here.”

Charles Dumas said he was concerned that, percentage-wise, this “loss hit our Prescott Fire Department harder than 9/11 hit the New York City Fire Department.”

Further down White Spar Road, at Forest Hylands, Casey Gibson and Katy Van Valkenburgh sat in their vehicle near another family’s canopy that had purple balloons tied to it.

“We’re trying to be at as many events honoring the hotshots as we can, like the candlelight vigil,” Gibson said.

Van Valkenburgh said she knew a couple of the hotshots because her family members went to school with them.

“We’re trying to go to every event to show support for the families,” Van Valkenburgh said. “A good friend back home shared his home with Eric Marsh for a year, so I’m gathering photos and other items to send back to him from the different events.”

Deborah Brownell, who recently lost her own son at age 22, said she came out to show support for the families.

“These guys are out there protecting us, and they lost their lives,” Brownell said. “We’re a strong community, and we’ll get through this together.”

After the fallen firefighters were brought to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office, a dedicated U.S. Forest Service smoke-jumper aircraft, Jumper 15, a DC-3 that flies out of Silver City, released purple streamers at the end of the transport, marking the firefighters return home.


Thousands attend candlelight vigil to honor Granite Mountain Hotshots killed in Yarnell Hill fire

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
People in the huge crowd at Prescott High School’s Bill Shepard Field hold up candles and sing during the candlelight vigil to honor the 19 fallen firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
A crowd of more than 5,000 people gathered at Bill Shepard Field at Prescott High School Tuesday night.

PRESCOTT – They began to arrive nearly three hours before the vigil’s scheduled 7:30 p.m. start time, trickling in past the gauntlet of TV news trucks, cameras, and cables, to find a seat in the Prescott High School football stadium.

The event was called “Heroes: Community Response to the Yarnell Fire Tragedy,” and hundreds gathered to honor 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, killed Sunday in the line of duty.

Soon enough, the trickle became a flood, with people filling the 2,500-seat home-side bleachers, then spilling onto the field, filling it, and continuing to take up the away-team bleachers.

Out on Ruth Street, dozens of volunteers held American flags on poles, lining the roadway for several blocks.

“The men that gave their lives for our area deserve the respect, and they’re going to be shown,” flag-bearer Michael Hill said. “This is exactly what our community is about. It’s about coming together, respect, and showing our love and gratitude to those give to us.”

Larry McCarty, a 16-year-old Boy Scout, played taps at the beginning of the ceremony. He offered to play because he wanted to honor one of the men who died in the fire.

“Clayton (Whitted) was a good friend of mine,” he said. “He helped me out with a merit badge – well, two actually – and I just feel like I should pay my respects.”

John Dickerson, who hosted the event, told the crowd that the firefighters were heroes.

“We will tell their children for years to come, ‘Your daddy, he was a hero,'” Dickerson said, to thunderous applause.

“To friends and families of the 19 heroes, your loved ones laid down their lives in the ultimate expression of their love for you,” he told the crowd. “And tonight, you are loved by your community.”

He read each fallen hotshot’s name, again to applause, and released nineteen purple balloons into the sky. “Purple is the color for fallen firefighters,” he said, and like the balloons, “our brothers have been cut loose from the troubles of this world, to rise to Heaven. And Heaven’s gain is truly our loss,” he said.

Music was provided by three local pastors who decided to play the event as a band.

“We felt the need, that God called us out to sing some praise and worship,” Eppie Vicente, vocalist, said, “and maybe for an hour put some joy and some hope in this tragedy of the fire.”

“We all have a connection in some way to all those who lost a loved one,” guitarist Chris Herrington said “So we’re here to stand in solidarity with them.”

The crowd prayed, sang, and cried as one throughout the ceremony.

Kyle Zierke said he had gone to high school with Robert Caldwell, one of the firefighters who died. Zierke was pleased with the turnout. “I think it shows the strength of the town,” he said.


Governor arrives in Prescott to honor fallen firefighters; names should be released today

Joanna Dodder Nellans
The Daily Courier

Monday, July 01, 2013

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier
Gov. Jan Brewer speaks at Prescott High School at a press conference today.
Courier illustration

Gov. Jan Brewer came to Prescott Monday to lament the loss of 19 Prescott firefighters.

“We can never fully repay their sacrifices,” Brewer said after ordering that all state flags be flown at half-staff today through Wednesday.

The names of the deceased 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots are scheduled to be released today. Only one of the hotshot team members survived because he was at another location.

The bodies were removed from the fire scene this morning alongside an honor guard after Prescott firefighters draped them with flags.

Brewer has issued an emergency declaration for the Yarnell Hill fire that pushed into the hamlet of Yarnell south of Prescott Sunday and killed the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots from the Prescott Fire Department.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar has changed a town hall at 4 p.m. today into a memorial service for the firefighters. It will take place at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.

People already are creating a makeshift memorial at the hotshots fire station along 6th Street.

The 8,374-acre fire continues to burn out of control today after torching approximately 200 homes in Yarnell Sunday.

While Prescott Frontier Days daily rodeos will begin today on schedule, rodeo officials will be wearing black bands and conducting a moment of silence before each rodeo. They also plan to honor the firefighters at Saturday’s parade.

 

 

 


A NEWS CONFERENCE WILL BE GETTING UNDERWAY ABOUT TEN O’CLOCK THIS MORNING FROM PRESCOTT CITY COUNCIL CHAMBERS.  AT THAT TIME, WE HOPE TO LEARN MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE TRAGEDY THAT TOOK THE LIVES OF 19 FIREFIGHTERS, MEMBERS OF PRESCOTT’S GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS.  THE YARNELL HILL FIRE WHICH IS STILL BURNING OUT OF CONTROL AT THIS HOUR TOOK A SAVAGE TURN YESTERDAY AFTERNOON OVERWHELMING THE HOTSHOTS FIRE CREW, SOME OF WHOM WERE ABLE TO DEPLOY THEIR PORTABLE FIRE SHELTERS, BUT IT WAS NOT ENOUGH.  ARIZONA GAME AND FISH FIRE EXPERT JIM PAXON SAYS THE SHELTERS HAVE BEEN USED SUCCESSFULLY SOME 300 TIMES, BUT HE SPECULATES THAT THE FIRE CHANGED DIRECTION SO FAST AND BURNED SO HOT THAT THE HOTSHOTS WERE NOT ABLE TO SURVIVE.  YARNELL HAS BEEN DEVASTATED WITH UPWARDS OF 250 HOMES OR BUILDINGS DESTROYED.


UPDATE – 8:40 p.m.: State Forestry Division Spokesman Mike Reichling said a 19th person was found dead where the 18 Prescott firefighters died.

Reichling said the man was not part of the hotshot crew.

Initial report – 7:20 p.m.:PRESCOTT – The Prescott Fire Department lost nearly its entire crew today – the Granite Mountain Hotshots – with 18 firefighters dying and one surviving.

A Prescott Fire spokesman told The Daily Courier the crew was battling the Yarnell fire, which has resulted in evacuations as it has grown to an estimated 1,300 acres in size.

A report of eight injured firefighters earlier in the evening was unconfirmed.

The spokesman said the extent of the survivor’s injuries were not known at this time. He also declined to release firefighters’ identities.

Further information was unavailable.

Volunteers with the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter opened a shelter on the Prescott campus of Yavapai College Sunday for displaced residents. Expecting large numbers, Red Cross Chapter Communications Officer Trudy Thompson-Rice said plans are already under way to open a second shelter closer to Yarnell.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Specialist Anthony J. Palermo said structures were burning as of Sunday night, but could not confirm how many structures were burned.


YARNELL, AZ – Nineteen firefighters have died fighting a wildfire in northern Arizona, according to officials.

The Daily Courier says the Prescott Fire Department lost nearly its entire crew on Sunday while battling the Yarnell Hill fire.

State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling confirmed 18 of the firefighters killed in the blaze are with the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew out of Prescott. It is unclear at this time where the 19th victim is from.

Reichling said it is the biggest firefighter casualty in our state’s history. It’s also the deadliest in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

One member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots survived, Prescott Fire spokesman Wade Ward said. There was no word on the injuries to that crew member.

Forestry spokesman Art Morrison told the Associated Press the firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters, tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat.

The wildfire that sparked just southwest of Prescott after an apparent lightning strike has quickly grown to more than 2,000 acres Sunday, forcing the evacuation of several communities.

Reichling said of the 500 structures in Yarnell, including homes, business and sheds, half of them have been destroyed in the fire. No structures in Peeples Valley have been affected as of yet.

Reichling said there are currently 250 firefighters working the Yarnell Hill fire and there will be a total of 400 in the next few hours.

He said there were four planes working the fire. Fire crews are expected to be on scene for at least a week.

Fire officials said the fire is burning west of State Route 89, between Yarnell and Peeples Valley, and as more resources are being called in, an evacuation center has been set up at Yavapai Community College.

As of 4 p.m. on Sunday, residents of the Model Creek Subdivision homes, the Double Bar A Ranch and the Buckhorn subdivision had been ordered to evacuate. In addition, an order to evacuate was issued for Peeples Valley west of State Route 89, north of Yarnell Road and and south of Sorrell Road. Also included in the evacuation order is the town of Yarnell. All were notified by telephone, according to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office.

Officials say approximately 600 people are under mandatory evacuation.

 

Residents and small animals are being evacuated to the Yavapai Community College located at 1100 E. Sheldon in Prescott, Ariz. Large animals are being evacuated to the Hidden Springs Ranch located on Highway 89 just southwest of Hayes Ranch Road.

The Yarnell Hill fire grew from four acres to 2,000 acres and is expected to continue growing, officials said.

At 4:30 p.m. the Arizona Department of Transportation said about 15 miles of State Route 89 was closed just north of Congress to south of Kirkland. Drivers traveling northbound can use US 93 or Interstate 17 as alternate routes.

The wildfire is 0 percent contained.

Crews are expecting rain and lightning overnight. They say it can help by bringing moisture to dry land and brush, but lightning could spark more fires.

ABC15 meteorologist Randy Kollins said currently, winds in the area are about 5 to 9 mph, with similar conditions expected on Monday. There is also a 30 percent chance of showers in the area on Monday.

Officials said the Yarnell Valley has been in a drought for about 10 years and the materials fueling the fire are very dry, helping the fire spread fast.


PRESCOTT – “Fire everywhere!”

Phillip “Mando” Maldonado, a squad leader, shouts instructions as a dozen hotshots, firefighters trained to combat wildfires in extreme conditions, face a nightmare scenario: flames rushing in from all sides and their survival hinging on successfully unfolding and wrapping themselves in thin sheets of heat-reflecting material.

“Get down! Heads toward center!” Maldonado yells, the urgency in his voice rising.

Diving to the ground, crew members attempt to form a tight circle and point their feet toward the approaching flames. That will deflect heat and help protect their torsos. They clamp down on the edges of their emergency shelters to make sure fire, smoke and heat can’t get inside, and they keep their faces near the ground to breathe cooler air that won’t damage their lungs.

There’s nothing to do now but wait.

Walking among the shelters several minutes later, Maldonado and another squad leader, Clayton Whitted, see that first-year hotshot Shane Arollado has made a fatal mistake: His head pointed toward the approaching fire.

Suddenly the survivors ask playfully if Arollado’s girlfriend is now available.

“Like hell!” Arollado shouts.

Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, one of 112 Interagency Hotshot Crews around the country, have never had to use shelters during a wildfire. But working in remote locations to get ahead of the most dangerous sections of fires makes knowing how to do so a matter of life and death.

Training is crucial, especially for the four rookies on the 22-member squad.

“If we’re not actually doing it, we’re thinking and planning about it,” said Eric Marsh, superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

“When we get out there, it’s a completely different ballgame,” said Daniel McCarty, another squad leader. “It’s the real deal. We have to look out for each other.”

The crew, one of 13 hotshot teams in Arizona, has eight full-time members. The rest work from April until September.

Brady Higgs, in his second year with the crew, said the camaraderie and opportunity to travel drew him to this job.

“I couldn’t work inside, I don’t think,” Higgs said. “I enjoy the work, I enjoy getting to go outside and see the country.”

Being on a hotshot crew means one is on call throughout fire season, staying close enough to head out on short notice.

Fire duty can mean staying in the forest rather than returning to base camp for the night. Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots sometimes have to spend up to two straight weeks in the wilderness, getting supplies by helicopter.

“These guys kinda become my family,” said Maldonado, the squad leader. “I saw them more than I saw my girlfriend last year.”

Last year, the Granite Mountain Hotshots fought some of the biggest fires in Arizona — Wallow, Horseshoe Two and Monument – as well as blazes in states such as Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota.

Having to operate in the wilderness with little support, training is a way of life. On a recent weekday, preparing for fire season, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots practiced setting up fire shelters as well as cutting fire lines.

The day included watching a video on how to use emergency shelters and what conditions crew members might face if overrun by fire.

The video featured survivors of the 1990 Dude Fire near Payson, in which six firefighters died despite wrapping themselves in shelters.

For training, crew members used green tarps shaped and packaged like fire shelters. Once the hotshots got inside, other crew members yanked on the tarps to simulate the high winds they could face.

After running the exercise once, they did it again.

When Arollado “died” during both run-throughs – it was his first time using a shelter – squad leaders Maldonado and Whitted pulled him aside to give tips.

“They were really great at showing me where I went wrong,” Arollado said. “There’s always someone trying to point you in the right direction.”

The crew also dug 1,000 feet of 3-foot-wide fire line, with some hotshots wielding chainsaws to cut down down trees and bushes.

Marsh, the crew’s superintendent, said later that everyone was rusty with training just under way. It’s particularly difficult for rookies who only have classroom experience, he said.

“It’s not uncommon to have a rookie die,” Marsh said. “Fake die, of course.”

But better to have mistakes happen here, where training can correct them, than in a real fire.

“In any other job you don’t have to worry about your life day in and day out,” said McCarty, the squad leader. “But in this job you have to watch your buddy too.”