19 Arizona Firefighters Killed Battling Yarnell Wildfire

19 Arizona Firefighters Killed Battling Yarnell Wildfire

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YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) - 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 30 years.

The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency 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.

The fire also destroyed an estimated 200 homes, Morrison said. Dry grass near the communities of Yarnell and Glen Isla fed the fast-moving blaze, which was whipped up by wind and raced through the homes, he said.

The fire still burned late Sunday, with flames lighting up the night sky in the forest above Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Most people had evacuated from the town, and no injuries or other deaths were reported. SOURCE

Like most folks that never humped a hose into a burning building, I gave some of the Firefighters I have known more than my share of good natured grief, but as I type this post I do so with a heavy heart, for you see, all good natured *ribbing* aside, Firefighters are, at least in MY opinion, the bravest people on this earth!

I want to offer my most sincere condolences to these brave heroes, their families and friends and to the state of Arizona and its citizens as well. We ALL share in your loss.

I can’t begin to understand the courage it takes for a Firefighter to walk into a burning building or to face down a wildfire such as this. That is a SPECIAL kind of bravery!

I am certain that these fine folks stood together, fighting until the very end to protect themselves and to save their fellow Firefighters. That’s what they do, and they have the utmost respect from me.

May God bless them one and all and have mercy on their souls.

Yarnell Fire

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10 Responses to 19 Arizona Firefighters Killed Battling Yarnell Wildfire

  1. MissBeth says:

    The news spread here quickly and devastatingly. Shockingly so, to lose so many in one fell swoop, from such a small town. They were all “babys”, so very young. From what I can tell on my feeds, the entire state is in a state of shock over this.

  2. dekare says:

    I too love to joke with these guys. I became a cop and when I had to go to the firestation on business, I would give the guys there so much grief. I mean, I would walk in the station, smell something awesome cooking (all the time, those guys do eat), 8 lazy boy chairs around a large screen TV, a pool table, and all that great stuff…the place looked like a resort. Hell, they even got to sleep and get paid for it. I would joke that I got issued a gun and they got issued a pillow.

    However, that being said, I have been the first responder to fires, where I even got there before the cops, and even though I had a fire extinguisher, there was no way I would go in a burning house. I have stood at the doorway of a burning building, ready to go in and make sure it was cleared out, and the second I saw those flames, and felt that heat, I puckered…no shit. I have faced down some tuff SOB’s…hell, a few of them at a time with no backup…and I was not worried. But that fire, that is some scary stuff. Everyone thinks they can run into a burning building to save someone, but in real life…it’s not as easy as it looks in the movies. It takes a damn lot of training and big huge balls. Combine this with the fact that I can NOT imagine a more horrible way to meet my maker, and my heart feels heavy for these men.

    I don’t think we have had a loss like this since 911. There are 19 wives, mothers, sons and daughters that are getting bad news about now. I wish them my very best.

    To those men, I know my job isn’t that tough compared to fighting mother nature at her very worst. The only consolation is that these men went being real heroes. It takes a special guy to be a fireman, and sure they have it good at work sometimes, but when duty calls, they work for their money in spades…and sometimes, that price is too high.

    My flag is half mast for them.

  3. The Right Handed Ciwboy says:

    in my 28 years of service as a Police Officer I have never met any finer people on this earth…these guys are some bravest souls I have met…they do their job without question and with integrity. My sincerest condolences to the family, Yarnell and to the Great State Of Arizona…May God Bless you one and all..

  4. Roberta says:

    What a tremendous loss to the town of Prescott and a devasting loss to those citizens of Yarnell who have lost their homes. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families that have lost their homes and family. God be with you and yours and be safe…

  5. cary says:

    I have fought wildfires, as a volunteer, here in the forests of Arizona. I have fought them as a volunteered - on Pendleton. I have helped to clear a house of occupants while the fire trucks were on their way, and stood by helplessly as the house was fully involved. Never manned a hose on a house fire, though. Only the big guys get to do that.

    I have never given a firefighter anything but full respect and honor. I’m too old to be playing with fire that way anymore. My wife and I drop off cookies and brownies to the local department a couple times a year as a miniscule thank you.

    The State of Arizona will be officially mourning this loss for the next couple of days. The People of Arizona will be mourning this loss for a long time to come.

    • TexasFred says:

      There has always been a very close friendship between cops and firefighters, and cops have always given them a bad time, but make no mistake, cops have the greatest respect for firefighters…

      Even if the 1st month of fire academy consists of how to operate the siren properly, how to ring the bell with authority and what shampoo is really the best when bathing the Dalmatian… :P

      Yeah, THAT kind of *ribbing*…

      And believe me, firefighters can give as good as they get too… Lots of love and respect for those in both fields, police and fire, and my heart is aching at this tragic loss.. :(

  6. Bunkerville says:

    A very sad day indeed. I cannot imagine any more courageous profession then to go inside a burning building, or be left to just pray the winds don’t shift when out in a Forrest fire.

  7. Bloviating Zeppelin says:

    Fred, that is correct. When we actually had a decent EVOC, we worked closely with Sac Fire and all the firefighters wanted to drive the cop cars, and all the cops wanted to drive the fire apparatus.

    And EVERYbody wanted to drive the Gillig school bus on the skid pan.

    Plus, don’t know if this is true with other fire agencies, Sac Fire is trained in 832PC, which in Fornicalia involve powers of arrest. They have a greater insight into law enforcement.

    God bless these men, these people to whom the word SACRIFICE means nothing because they are they embodiment of it on a daily and hourly basis.

    HOW MANY people, today, are WILLING to sacrifice in any way at work?


    • TexasFred says:

      As far as I know the only Fire folks that have actual LEO powers are the Fire Marshals… I really don’t know for sure but I am going to contact my buddy here in Rowlett that IS the Fire Marshal and find out…

  8. Brillig says:

    I am not a firefighter and have never fought in a real forest fire, though I have lugged the backpack hand-pump water cans, no have I attempted entry to a burning house. I have however been close enough to a fire hot enough to hear trees “explode into flames” while firefighters hiked toward it… That is not just an expression, and as a description is woefully inadequate. Once heard while feeling the heat from a distance, it’s not likely you will ever forget it.

    These men are heroes, even before they get to the fire, simply for knowing the danger and continuing in that direction. My prayers, thoughts and good wishes for all of them and their families…

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