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Prescott, a community not unlike ours, mourned their fallen on Tuesday, July 2.

Thousands of residents filled the football field at Prescott High School for a vigil to honor the firefighters from the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots, a wildfire division of the Prescott Fire Department. The 20-man crew was fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire when high winds shifted the blaze’s direction and the flames overran their position on Sunday, June 30. Nineteen of the 20 firefighters died in the blaze, making it the deadliest wildfire for firefighters since 1933.

News Editor Christopher Fox GrahamThere are still 590 firefighters battling the blaze, which is only 8 percent contained as of press time. Six firefighters from the Sedona Fire District are also working the fire in various capacities: Battalion Chiefs Dave Cochrane and Jayson Coil, Capt. Angel Morales and firefighters Keith Christofferson, Todd Miranda and Tim Armenta.

Sedona also sent four members of the Critical Incident Stress Management team to help some of the 600 firefighters deal with their grief.

One can only imagine the thoughts of the men and women who must mourn their comrades while still working night and day to save the nearby town of Yarnell from falling victim as well. Most of those on the front lines don’t yet have time to grieve — they still have a job to do and a fire to fight.

The crew’s single survivor was 21-year-old Brendan McDonough, who was working as a lookout within a mile of the crew and radioing progress on the fire as it approached and overran his position and that of his team.

The names of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters who died were recently released by the Prescott Fire Department: Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Robert Caldwell, 23; Travis Carter, 31; Dustin Deford, 24; Christopher MacKenzie, 30; Eric Marsh, 43; Grant McKee, 21; Sean Misner, 26; Scott Norris, 28; Wade Parker, 22; John Percin, 24; Anthony Rose, 23; Jesse Steed, 36; Joe Thurston, 32; Travis Turbyfill, 27; William Warneke, 25; Clayton Whitted, 28; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; and Garret Zuppiger, 27.

One could easily empathize the devastating effect this type of loss could have on a community. Imagine how Sedona would react if these 19 names were instead our firefighters, names of people attending our schools, shopping in our grocery stores and helping residents after accidents, medical emergencies or house fires.

That’s what the residents of Prescott are feeling today, and our hearts go out to them.

According to the Incident Management Team, the interagency authority which manages the crews and equipment from all the component fire agencies, a formal memorial ceremony will be held in conjunction with the city of Prescott and the Prescott Fire Department. It will take place once the Yarnell Hill Fire is no longer a threat, so most of the firefighters currently on the line can publicly mourn with each other and the grieving community who lost 19 of their own.

According to YarnellFallenFirefighters.com, the official website for the fallen, there are three websites where people can donate to help the families of the firefighters:

Our thoughts and prayers are with McDonough, as well as the grieving family members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Christopher Fox Graham

News Editor


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