This morning we awoke to the news that 19 firefighters of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew, out of Payson, AZ, tragically lost their lives on Sunday, June 30, 2013, while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. It is the deadliest wildland fire since 1933, according to a list from the U.S. National Wildfire Coordinating Group.
“Our entire crew was lost,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo told reporters Sunday night. “We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you’ll ever meet. Right now, we’re in crisis.”
Arizona columnist E.J. Montini wrote:
The experts will examine the evidence and attempt to figure out what went wrong and how, or if, it can be prevented from happening again.
One thing that does not need to be explained is the bravery of those who died.
A fire broke out and threatened a town and they answered the call.
Heat and wind and uncertainty did not deter them.
They were called upon and they went.
Some years back the author Norman Maclean wrote a book called “Young Men and Fire” which told the story of 13 firefighters lost in the Mann Gulch fire in Montana in 1949.
The firefighters lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire are part of a tradition of hard work and sacrifice and loss that has long been a part of fighting forest fires.
But just as we needed them, and they answered, their families will be needing us.
And we must answer.
No explanation for what happened will be good enough.
The loss is too much.
It will always be too much.
It has been my experience that when people walk on they leave a powerful legacy. When our lives are the least bit touched by those who walk on and we choose to identify a thread of their legacy and make the conscious decision to carry that thread of the legacy forward, our lives become blessed and we are able to bless the lives of so many as we continue on our journey of bringing light into darkness.
The piece of their legacy that i personally understand and relate to is – “They were called upon and they went.” i will carry this forward in my daily life – i will make myself available and when I am called upon I will go where I am needed.
With deep love and appreciation i send heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of those who lost their lives.
Thank you for the extraordinary life lesson and legacy.
Authorities believe lightning sparked the Yarnell Hill fire on Friday. On behalf of the FUSION Foundation and the Peace Walkers Sangha we extend our hearts and send prayers to the family and friends of the 19 firefighters – we mourn the loss of such brave men and women -for more information: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/01/us/arizona-firefighter-deaths/index.html