(Prayers to wing them on their ways to the beyond; directed love and whatever comfort can reach their loved ones.)

From AZCentral, Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:02 PM:

Eighteen firefighters have died in the Yarnell Hill Fire that has ripped through half of the town and sent residents to Prescott for safety.

Sources have confirmed that 18 crew members died while fighting the blaze. Officials at the scene of the blaze couldn’t provide The Arizona Republic information on any injuries or deaths but said they expect about half of the town’s 500 homes to be decimated by the fire that is currently burning with zero containment and has grown well past 2,000 acres.

Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman, said the fire is quickly reaching “Type 1” status and that federal authorities will be brought in to help Monday morning. Reichling expects the manpower dedicated to the fire to reach about 400 people as federal help arrives.

Wickenburg Community Hospital is expecting to treat about eight firefighters who were among about 22 injured battling the fast-moving, 2,000-acre Yarnell Hill Fire that has burned through have the town, officials said Sunday evening.

It’s unclear if any in this missing group is among the dead firefighters. [snip]

The spokeswoman for Wickenburg hospital, Roxie Glover, said there are reports of as many as 22 firefighters being injured. About eight from that group were headed to the Wickenberg facility, some were being air lifted to a Phoenix burn unit and others were being transported to Yavapai Regional Medical Center, Glover said.

No news yet on the exact hows and whys.  This tragedy will be compared to a similar tragedy at the South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, CO in 1994.  Fourteen firefighters lost their lives as a result of fast-changing weather conditions, miscommunication and …history may record the rest.  As a result of the inquiries into the tragic deaths, new protocols were adopted in an attempt to keep crew members safe.  One was: if you are given a command that you strongly suspect may result in death or injury: disregard it.


It seems that the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshots  (with small crew photo); (more photos here) became part of the Prescott Fire Department over the past decade.  It’s an unfamiliar configuration to me, but the Yarnell Hill fire is listed on Inciweb.org in conjunction with the AZ State Forestry Office.

The NY Times is reporting that the hotshots had been attempting to create a fire line near the tiny former gold-mining town of Yarnell near Prescott when the wind shifted, grew in speed, and overtook them.  They apparently deployed their personal fire shelters, but to no avail.  Jayzus.

The town had been evacuated previously, he said. A reverse 911 call was sent, and sheriff’s deputies alerted residents.

Flames were traveling north, away from the small community of Yarnell, 4,800 feet up a mountain between Wickenburg and Prescott, in central Arizona. Some residents there left to go to neighboring Peeples Valley, where an evacuation order was in place, to help people pack up and leave their homes.  [snip]

The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona. The unit was established in 2002.

The Times compared it to a 1933 California fire in which 25 firefighters were killed, but did not speak of Storm King.  I checked, and found a CA fire deaths page that said:

October of 1933: Griffith Park Fire, Los Angeles County: 29 welfare workers clearing brush were killed; about 47 acres burned. Cause undetermined.  I wonder if we would be appalled by who and why ‘welfare workers’ were clearing brush and lost their lives.

May I offer a musical tribute to them?  I am neither a believer nor a Catholic, but this seems appropriate.  I’ll try to update in the morning.  In the meantime: remember to love all those you are able, even when liking is hard.  Share when you can, and reach out to each other; we share all the same elements: stardust.

If you want to see videos, check here.

The names of the firefighters whose lives were cut short have been released.  Please let us honor, and send our best thoughts and prayers to those they loved, and who loved them and left behind:

Andrew Ashcraft, 29

KevinWoyjeck, 21

Anthony Rose, 23

Eric Marsh, 43

Christopher MacKenzie, 30

Robert Caldwell, 23

Clayton Whitted , 28

Scott Norris, 28

Dustin Deford, 24

Sean Misner, 26

Garret Zuppiger, 27

Travis Carter, 31

Grant McKee, 21

Travis Turbyfill, 27

Jesse Steed, 36

Wade Parker, 22

Joe Thurston, 32

William Warneke, 25

John Percin, 24

For bios, please see this page.  (Hat tip/ sadavis)