Viewpoint established for Yarnell Hill Fire fatality site

Yarnell Hill fatality site
A flagpole marks the Yarnell Hill fatality site — as seen from the new Granite Mountain Hotshots Overlook on Hwy 89 in Yarnell, AZ. The scene appears to have been photographed with a long telephoto lens, so the apparent distance between the flagpole and the structure is very deceiving. (click to enlarge)

A viewpoint has been established near highway 89 in Arizona from which the Yarnell Hill Fire fatality site can be seen. The Granite Mountain Hotshots were entrapped by the fire, and 19 firefighters on the 20-person crew were killed June 30, 2013.

More info from the AP:

The 15-mile stretch of Arizona highway that runs past where a wildfire killed 19 Prescott firefighters has reopened, and the entrapment site near Yarnell is visible from a new public overlook.

Drivers who stop at the site alongside Highway 89 near Yarnell will be able to see a flagpole in the distance that marks the site where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were trapped by a fire on June 30.

InciWeb has some additional information.

Below is a photo of the entrapment site that we published July 6.

Yarnell Hill Fire fatality site, Arizona, 2013. Prescott FD photo by Wade Ward.
The entrapment site on the Yarnell Hill Fire. The dozer line was punched in after the incident to facilitate the removal of the bodies, which were at the end of the line. The photo was taken by Wade Ward of the Prescott FD, and is used here with permission. (click to enlarge)

Photos and observations from the Granite Mountain 19 Memorial Service

(UPDATE at 7 p.m. MST, July 9, 2013)

The memorial service for the Granite Mountain 19 was conducted with dignity and professionalism today. It was very well organized and gave the firefighters the honor they deserved.

Filled auditorium
The arena a few minutes before the service started. Some of the VIPs in the front rows had not yet entered
Alumni of Granite Mountain Hotshots entering arena
Alumni of Granite Mountain Hotshots entering arena
memorial serviceoutside the arena
The crowd gathers outside the arena


Firefighter statue
The wildland firefigher statue that was in the Boise Airport was given to the city of Prescott just before the memorial service. It attracted a lot of attention and was photographed hundreds of times.
Firefighter's gear
Some typical firefighter gear was on display at the front of the arena.

More is below:

Continue reading “Photos and observations from the Granite Mountain 19 Memorial Service”

Dining out, the evening before the memorial service for the Granite Mountain 19

After he recorded an interview with me today, the reporter from the Los Angeles National Public Radio station told me that someone else he talked to said the Granite Mountain Hotshots used to hang out at Hugos, a Mexican restaurant on Montezuma Street, a block north of the square in Prescott. So I tried it tonight. Visually, it’s very small and not at all fancy, to say the least. There is a little dining room in the front, and open air tables out back. I could almost see the Granite Mountain Hotshots, tired after a hard day, sitting around the tables outside, laughing occasionally, probably talking too loud at times… like all Hotshots do sometimes.

The food ordered from the limited menu was simple and tasty. I ordered a chicken burrito — it was huge and loaded with chicken. I’d order it again.

It can be a good sign when you walk into a Mexican restaurant and the TV is tuned to a Spanish language station. I asked the guy behind the walk up counter about the Hotshots — and if they came in there. He said that he and the other employee with him had been there for 9 years, and they knew everyone on the crew.

Behind the scenes — preparations for the Granite Mountain 19’s memorial service

Some members of the IMTeam for planning the memorial services
Some members of the IMTeam for planning the memorial services confer in the hallway of the Incident Command Post Monday

Today I was able to spend some time with the Incident Management Team that is putting together the thousands of details necessary for organizing the events honoring the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30. The Hotshot crew was part of the city of Prescott Fire Department and early on, the department smartly requested that an incident management team take the lead in putting the plans together. They are working separately from the team managing the fire itself, the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The deaths and the honoring of the 19 firefighters is garnering a great deal of interest. Mostly because of, naturally, the large number of firefighters that died. And everybody likes firefighters. But because they were part of a municipal fire department on a wildland fire, it draws not only the wildland fire community, which would have been a huge response alone, but many city fire departments and organizations around the country are wanting to help any way they can.

The planning organization began with the National Incident Management Organization’s Atlanta NIMO team, with Incident Commander Mike Quesinberry who has the delegation of authority for the incident. Added as co-Incident Commander was Pruett Small who is the Deputy Incident Commander on one of the Southwest Area’s Type 1 Incident Management Teams. Many other members of the Southwest team as well as several other IMTeams contributed personnel, with a total of approximately 200 people being assigned directly to the IMTeam.

There are quite a few other personnel helping on a less formal basis that are not being tracked as closely as normally occurs on a more traditional fire, planned event, or all-hazard incident. For example I was told that approximately 2,000 firefighters from fire departments around the country are serving as honor guards at the procession from Phoenix to Prescott, the memorial service, and the 19 individual firefighter funerals.

At the risk of leaving out some key players, an example of some of the organizations involved include the International Association of Fire Fighters which is helping out to a VERY significant degree, the New York City FD which has had a close working relationship with the Southwest Area Type 1 IMTeams since they worked together at 9/11, and Los Angeles County FD which is providing a critical incident stress management team (I probably got their title wrong).

The El Dorado Hotshots help set up the stage
On Monday the El Dorado Hotshots help set up the stage and other equipment for the memorial service.

And then there is the local sound system specialist who is providing at no cost his services and all of the sound equipment that will be used at the memorial service in the Tim’s Toyota Center Tuesday. Engineering the sound and providing the equipment is a huge deal, takes a lot of expertise, and is always very expensive… when you have to pay for it. He said he is doing it for no pay because the Granite Mountain Hotshots saved his home recently when it was threatened by a fire.

Adding to those individuals is the miscellaneous assistance that is being provided to the Prescott Fire Department from other departments as far away as Texas, for example, to staff engines this week so that the Prescott firefighters can take care of the 19 members they just lost. This morning I pulled over while an engine from the Yuma FD was responding code 3 to an incident in Prescott.

The facility for the memorial service Tuesday, Tim’s Toyota Center, has room for 6,000 people inside, and all of those seats have been committed. Everyone who does not have an assigned seat already will be able to view the service outside on a huge jumbo screen. According to the IMTeam, be aware that shading or seating will not be provided. The weather is calling for temperatures in the mid 90’s and humidity around 13%. Water stations will be available. Come prepared to stand or bring lawn chairs but plan for the heat. The service will also be streamed live online.

Other photos from the site of the memorial service and the Incident Command Post that were taken Monday are below.
Continue reading “Behind the scenes — preparations for the Granite Mountain 19’s memorial service”

The Prescott newspaper covers the Granite Mountain 19

This is the front page of Prescott’s newspaper, the Daily Courier today, Monday, July 8 — the day after the bodies of the 19 firefighters were escorted from Phoenix to Prescott, and the day before the scheduled memorial service on Tuesday.

Prescott's Daily Courier, front page
Prescott’s Daily Courier, front page, July 8, 2013

Honor Escort for the Granite Mountain 19

The 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that died on the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30 were escorted back to Prescott today, closer to their home base. They were moved from the medical examiner’s office in Phoenix to the medical examiner’s office in Prescott, a distance of approximately 100 miles. A helicopter was circling overhead. The first part of the ground escort was about 20 officers on motorcycles.

These first three photos were taken on Highway 89 five miles north of Yarnell, Arizona.

Honor Escort, motorcycle officers
Honor Escort, motorcycle officers

A few vehicles after the bikes was a Granite Mountain Hotshots’ crew carrier.

Honor Escort, Granite Mountain Hotshots
Honor Escort, Granite Mountain Hotshots’ crew carrier and the 19 hearses.

And then the 19 hearses, each with a sign in the window identifying the Hotshot inside.

Granite Mountain Hotshots' Honor Escort
Hearses for the Granite Mountain Hotshots
Yarnell Hill Fire, honor escort, APS cranes
Yarnell Hill Fire-7-7-2013-Arizona Public Service company cranes with flags draped wait for the procession of hearses carrying the 19 fallen firefighters travels through Yarnell on highway 89 Sunday afternoon, on its way to Prescott.
Photo by Tom Tingle/The Arizona Republic. Used with permission.

A memorial service for the Granite Mountain 19 will be held in Prescott Tuesday. We will remain in the area reporting on this historic event.

The first three photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.