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This post is a tribute to the 19 Granite Mountain Firefighters who were killed on June 30, 2013.
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On June 28, 2013, lighting passed over the area near the town of Yarnell, Arizona, igniting a wildfire with extreme fire behavior and wind-driven runs. It would quickly spread by burning up everything in its path, including gaining ground as it raced towards a fire lookout and began to overtake the City of Yarnell.
As the fire was approaching the lookout, one member, 21-year-old Brendan McDonough radioed to the Hotshot team to advise of his plight. He was told to evacuate from his location. He began hiking out of the area and was said to have come in face-to-face contact with another Hotshot Leader who was managing the radio traffic between him and the Hotshots. At this time, they both decided to move their crews’ vehicles to a safer location when they overhead of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshots being entrapped by surrounding fire. An attempt by the Blue Ridge Hotshots to extricate them but they were forced back by intense flames and heat of the wildfire.
After moving the vehicles, the Blue Ridge Hotshots went into the City of Yarnell and helped several remaining residents who refused to evacuate earlier.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots would soon become over by fire, forcing them to deploy their fire shelters to protect them.
Upon arrival on the scene where air resources marked their last known coordinates, unfortunately, all nineteen-out-of-twenty firefighters perished. There was one survivor, who suffered life-threatening burns on 75% all over his entire body. Firefighters had deployed their fire shelter during the flashover with extreme temps of 2,000*F (or 1,090*C). It was said that not all were under their fire shelters when they were found.
Today, the nineteen will remain in our hearts and thoughts as we remember them on this ninth year anniversary and to never forget.
Only July 1, 2013, the City of Prescott, Arizona released the names of those who lost their lives in the line of duty:
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 Jr., 24
Anthony Rose, 23
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 33
Travis Turbyfill, 27
William Warneke, 26
Clayton Whitted, 28
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Garret Zuppiger, 27
The lone survivor was 21-year-old Brendan McDonough.
Their official cause of death was listed as killed by intense heat and flames of the fire. The incident was also investigated as attributed to an extreme and sudden shift in weather patterns, causing the fire behavior to become more like a firestorm and cut off their escape route as they were attempting to extricate themselves from the fireline.
Please remember all wildland firefighters who have died in the line of duty and those who continue to carry on the tradition of fighting these fires today. We Will Never Forget.
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