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Monday, July 1, 2013

100 Days of Gratitude, Day 31: Honoring Granite Mountain Hotshots

Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew
photo from City of Prescott
Like so many other friends, I heard about the loss of 19 firefighters from Prescott on Facebook. At first, I was a bit skeptical. "There's no way that 19 firefighters lost their lives fighting the Yarnell fire. Those guys are really well trained. This must be a rumor," I thought.

But then the updates started coming from media sources like NPR, and given my proclivity to believe NPR (hazard of my chosen profession), I joined in the discussion. One post that struck me was from my friend, Janet, who said, "As parents of a firefighter it hits close to home. Please send them prayers in this terrible time of grief."

Living in the mountain west in a period of drought, we have been touched by many fires. A little more than three years ago, Jim took this striking video of the Schultz Pass Fire from his driveway:

Schultz Pass Fire, Father's Day 2010

It's hard to imagine seeing a fire like this, or the Yarnell Fire, and going into it instead of running away. And hotshot crews, teams of usually 20 men who have been trained for difficult wildland fires, are considered the elite. When I've seen their trucks driving down the highway on their way to the next fire, I can't help but be a little kid again--I honk my car horn and wave.

To lose even one firefighter is tragic. To lose almost an entire team is unheard of.

For those living in this region, in the wildland urban interface, fire is an ongoing and increasing risk. We all know someone who has been affected by wildland fire, whether the immediate or after effect. We rely on firefighters who not only leap into danger to protect our communities, but who also spend countless hours providing public education, conducting fire prevention activities, and doing a lot of relatively mundane tasks to keep us safe from future fires.

Even though I did not know any of these men, I honor their commitment and ultimate sacrifice to all of us and pray for their families and friends.

Related links:
Facebook page honoring the lost: https://www.facebook.com/InMemoryOfPrescottFirefightersLost6302013?fref=ts

The Granite Mountain Hotshot team was highlighted training for a situation just like this in this article posted June 25 and in the video below: For hotshot firefighting crews, training can be a matter of life and death.




Author's note: This is a little detour from the 100 Days of Gratitude, but given the situation, please forgive us. We have been progressing along with our pledge to thank someone every day for 100 days and will be posting more reflections soon.

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