Australian firefighters bond with Prescott FD after Yarnell Hill tragedy

Below is an excerpt from an article in the West Australian written by Tim Clarke:


“It was one of the worst bushfire tragedies in US history with the deaths of 19 members of the legendary Granite Mountain Hotshots.

But from that 2013 tragedy in the hills of Arizona has emerged an unlikely bond, which will be affirmed this year when members of the Preston Road Bushfire Brigade near Collie [Australia] travel across the world to offer their support and learn from their experiences.

The firefighters were battling brutal fires on Yarnell Hill, north-west of Phoenix, on June 30, 2013.

The fires were started by a lightning strike and rapidly spread to about 100ha, destroying more than 100 structures and trapping and killing all 19 crew. [When contained, the fire had burned 8,400 acres.]

The disaster shocked the firefighting world, including Collie-based volunteer Kevin Bazeley, who sent an email to his counterparts at the Prescott Fire Department in Arizona expressing sorrow and condolences. Bosses there were so touched that the message was read at a memorial for the dead men.

Two years on, Mr Bazeley and three colleagues have been invited by the city to confirm their international friendship officially.

“Their loss was almost unbelievable, and I just felt I had to tell them the whole world was thinking of them,” Mr Bazeley said…”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.