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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
A few vehicles after the bikes was a Granite Mountain Hotshots’ crew carrier.
And then the 19 hearses, each with a sign in the window identifying the Hotshot inside.