Skip to comments.Who They Were: The ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’ – 19 Brave Souls Who Perished in Arizona Fire
Posted on 06/30/2013 10:40:26 PM PDT by montag813
Above: The Granite Mountain Hot Shots of Prescott, Arizona. 19 of 20 crew members perished in the Yarnell Hill fire today.
Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 80 years - and the worst since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001/
Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were forced to deploy their fire shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat - when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.
Stand With Arizona is not going to release the names of those who perished at this time out of respect for their families. But we wanted to give our readers some idea of who these brave souls were. Some of those who died today can be seen in the photos and video below. God bless them all.
The Granite Mountain Hot Shots, 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 22-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.
When this fire was reported. The team jumped into action to help contain the fire.
Just one week ago, the same crew also led the charge against the Doce fire in the Prescott National Forest.
Above: A Prescott Fire Department Granite Mountain Hot Shots member sharpens his chainsaw Saturday before a 16-hour shift battling the Doce fire, 6/23/2013. (Wade Ward, Prescott Fire Department)
This video below of the Hotshots was filmed in April 2012. Chillingly, it shows the crew practicing the deplpoyment of their fire shelters, which are aluminum foil and silica sacks that reflect radiant heat and have saved the lives of nearly 300 firefighters since 1977.
Reportedly, during the Yarnell Hill fire, the crew got into a catastrophic situation where sudden, fierce winds created a wave of fire which caught them in a ridge, unable to retreat to any safe zones. They attempted to deploy these shelters, but either did not have enough time, or the fire was too intense to resist. Only one of the crew of 20 survived inside his shelter, as 19 of his brothers perished.
The hotshot crew had never before been forced to deploy these shelters in a fire prior to today's tragic conflagration.
God bless their souls. Our prayers for their families in this hour of unimaginable anguish. And our prayers to those still battling this hell on Earth in the ground in Arizona at this very hour.
Excerpt...click here for the full story.
Ironic that you would post this story.
While these men fought and died, the Arizona Senatorial delegation was busy selling them and their children out in a disgusting vote.
McCain and Flake should be banned from the funeral.
So sad. Prayers for their families. And prayers for the sole survivor.
“Perished” is such a gentle, poetic word for the unimaginable horror that killed them.
One line in the article really caught my attention:
"The average age of the hot-shot crew was 22 years old."
I porfess absolutely no knowledge of firefighting, even more so this highly specialized type of activity, but isn't experience, the wisdom of years very important in this type of work. There is also something called "youthful exuberance and the adrenaline rush." The young feel they are immortal, invincible.
We've all heard the old adage.."There are bold pilots, and old pilots, but there are no bold, old pilots."
I remember long ago as a newly minted, still wet behind he ears, Marine 2nd LT, being told to listen to the experienced NCOs..
I do hope that the after-action report will examine this, as well as other possible contributory factors..
This same crew fought over 14 fires in the past 12 months, as far away as Minnesota, so they would seem to be rather experienced. Check the video at the link. Their crew supervisors are well over 30 or 40.
Will u ping to DJL?
We feel we've lost brothers. We feel for the loss, and those left behind.
We learn a creed here and I want to share it if I may.
When lives are in danger
Though your own is in doubt
You still have to go in
You don't have to come out.
These brave firefighters did all they could until they could do more.
Several were found dead inside their shelters. One escaped unharmed. One has burns over 75% of their body and is on the way to the hospital.
Folks, these Hot Shot teams are the most highly trained fire fighters in the world. These folks have 10 to 20 years experience fighting these fires. These are not the sort of crews that are easily trapped by a fire, they know what they are doing.
This fire must have done something completely unexpected and caught them in a situation where they had no time to escape. There was a thunderstorm that moved through Yarnell with winds up to 50 MPH ahead of it this afternoon at about the time contact with these firefighters were lost. There is also some notion that there was a nearby "dry lightning" strike that started a smoldering fire that suddenly exploded when those winds came up.
Americans have a tradition of answering the call when danger threatens their communities. Sometimes danger wins. Godspeed to the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew. Heroes one and all. Your families, friends, and neighbors are in our thoughts and our prayers tonight.
This is terrible. God Bless and help their families after this loss. I’m not sure that homes are worth the loss of life in this instance.
Prayers up for Gods hand of comfort to these brave souls, as well as their sole surviving brother hotshot and all their families and friends that will be so greatly affected by their loss.
My understanding from our local tv news reports tonight 22 years old may be the average age... but the team was a well rounded team made up of older experienced guys all the way down to new recruits... these guys were very busy lately, just came off the lines from 2 previous consective fires.
From what they were saying tonight, purely something caused by weather, and an overabundence of fuel... 10 years of drought and no fires in this area for 40 years now... they were on their own with no radio contact, had no idea it was headed their way until too late to get out of the way.
There is a youtube video that shows timelapse of the fire/smoke growing and the thunderstorm building right over the top of it... then the thunderhead collapsed cold air down on the fire and reversed it’s direction 180 degrees
God bless these heroes and their families.
Is protecting the loss of any property ever really worth loss of human lives? Thats the risk a firefighter lives with daily though and sadly many have perished for that very reason.
Usually hotshots are fighting fires somewhere else, if not another state, at least normally the big ones have not been too close to home (until recently again) these guys lived less than an hour down the road, pretty much in the direction the fire was burning toward... they were protecting their neighbors and their property PLUS trying to stop a fire from racing across very dry arizona wilderness... it sounds like it should have been a relatively safe day for this team, as the fire was going the other way... this team was cutting a worst case scenario fire line, to protect yarnell exactly when the worst case happened. They were out of radio contact and probably had no idea it had turned around until it was too late, as some of them did not even make it into their emergency shelters...
Estimates are 250 homes/business’ lost so far in this fire... this is a SMALL rural community and that would amount to about half of it so far.
Yarnell is a beautifull small town in North Central Az. My wife if from a smaller town 30 miles NW of there. We buried my mother in-law in Yarnell in 2007. This part of Yavapi County is one of the last bastions of the American Cowboy. Please pray for the families of these brave men. They were busting their asses to save the homes and livestock of their neighbors.
This news makes me very sad. How tragic that nineteen brave and good young men voluntarily went into harm’s way and paid the ultimate price. This weak human cries “God, why have you forsaken them?”
Please pray for another member not in the group..I just found out he is in the grand canyon with his daughter and doesn’t know this happened. His wife is trying to get a hold of him so she can get him home safely. Tragic day for all. :(
This team also saved my brother’s home recently. Pray for healing for Prescott. :(
Dear Lord please, rest their brave, brave souls.
“The average age of the hot-shot crew was 22 years old.”
I profess absolutely no knowledge of firefighting, even more so this highly specialized type of activity, but isn’t experience, the wisdom of years very important in this type of work.
I’m assuming that if I click on that video then I’m going to see many of the same men who gave their lives over the weekend? I’m not sure if I’m ready for that yet. This is such a tragedy.
Bump for continued prayers for these families and for Prescott.
O.K. I’ve read here more than once “These men were out of radio contact”. Something’s wrong with that. What would it cost to give these guys better radios? Most radios I’ve seen for cops, etc. are UHF or VHF bands. Would HF radios have better range or ability to overcome the terrain? What about satellite links?
Hubby is a retired firefighter. He was our county’s top watershed expert and ran our hot shot crew for many years. Being on a hot shot crew IS a young mans job. Most everything they do is done by hand. They walk across mountains to the front lines of a fire and use picks and shovels to dig lines of defense against fire and set back fires.
Again, it is a young mans job.
Thanks for the information, especially about the numbers of supervisory personnel I never said, or even implied, that they were “wet behind the years” ( your phrased, not mine)..They were incredibly brave. And I do understand that the strenuous physical demands on the hot shot crews make it a young man’s game. We do, however, learn from our experiences..and the very young average age jumped out at me. In a thorough after action review, nothing should be off the table..everything should be looked at closely..hoping to avoid future fatalities if at all possible.
What is wrong with you that you thought it was a good idea to criticize these people. Have you no soul? No heart? Hot Shots are HIGHLY trained units, the special forces of the fire fighting department. In high desert areas like Yarnell/Prescott, Hot Shots literally are our saviors. They put their lives on the line every single day and bravely stand between us and destruction. On behalf of all the Hot Shots, their family, friends and the whole area, I would like to say: SHAME ON YOU. I am offended and disgusted by your comment and I truly hope you THOROUGHLY rethink your statement or consider deleting it all together. Ignorant and insensitive.
He wasn’t criticizing, Lucy. Welcome to FR. I hope and pray YOU are safe? Your home..family?
I understand that losing one’s home is probably one of the worst things that can befsll an individual, but I would hope more planes could be used instead of walking firefighters. I know these brave men chose to fight fires, but it’s terribly sad for them to lose their lives over what is, after all, only material possessions.
Ken, at age 22, I had been an Industrial Firefighter for 3 years. The last thing I ever felt on-scene was invincible. Whole lots of praying going on during the really bad ones. Some of scariest times of my life, that's for sure.
I agree with that, Something I dont understand either... why the plane with slurry was not dispatched the night it started, or even the next day when it was still a 15 acre wildfire... it seems to me, the slurry planes dont come in until these fires are out of control.
I just some quick math after names were released today... whoever origionally reported 22 years old as average age must have been educated in a government school as it came out just over 27 years old as an average age for me. there were a few that were 21 and 22 years old, Majority were late 20’s to 30’s Oldest was 43.
And Granite Mountain, the eastern side that I see...is burning again.
Wow...we ALL need prayer.
Saying heartfelt prayers for the families of the nineteen firefighters who gave their lives.
Also saying prayers for all in harm’s way. Praying for all near Granite Mountain tonight.
Father, hear our prayers.
Yes. I wonder if Zero’s ‘sequester’ has anything to do with it. You know, where the gov’t. hacks slash funding for essential services while party hacks continue to live well.
Oh, BG, I have been out of town for a week, and did not find out about the Yarnell fire until yesterday - and then another one at Granite Mountain!
Prayers have been constant for all in harm’s way!!
We had major lightening here in Sedona an hour ago, and I am so thankful that RAIN came with it!
Stay safe everyone!
What a true yet sad poem, NM! Prayers for all the families of those who lost their HERO in AZ.
You know the danger - you know the commitment. Prayers for you and your team, and all those who risk their lives to save property and dwellings from devastating fires!
I *think* Granite is out. Again.
The other? Not for a looooooooong time, I’d imagine. It’s sort of raining now. Not enough to matter. But it’s something.