Almost all members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots brigade died there

The moving mountain trail that pays tribute to 19 firefighters who fell in 2013

On June 28, 2013, lightning started a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona. It seemed like just another fire, but in the end it wasn't.

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Due to the wind and a change in its direction, the fire ended up devastating 34 square kilometers and destroyed 129 buildings, being the worst forest fire in the US since 1991. One of the fire units that came to extinguish this fire was the Granite Mountain Hotshots elite brigade, from the city of Prescott, Arizona.

Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots brigade (Photo: Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Learning and Tribute Center).

This unit was made up of 20 firefighters and was the first local forest firefighter unit that was certified as an elite brigade in the US, which is why they went to fight fires in other states. In the case of the Yarnell fire, the rapid advance of the fire ended up surrounding the brigade and killed 19 of its members on June 30, 2013. The only one who was saved, Brendan McDonough, was in observation duties and that is why he was not with the rest of the brigade.

One of the information panels on the memorial trail (Photo: Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial States Park).

The death of those 19 firefighters was the worst tragedy experienced by US wildland firefighters since 1933 and the greatest loss of firefighters' lives in the United States since the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. Those Prescott firefighters died as heroes, at the hands of the fire they were trying to fight. That tragic event shocked the entire state of Arizona and the entire country. In 2017, his story was made into a film in the excellent film "Only the Brave".

One of the plaques that remember the fallen firefighters, specifically Wade Parker, 22 years old (Photo: Rebecca Wilks/Arizona Highways).

On November 29, 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey dedicated Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, near Yarnell, in the place where the fire that killed those 19 heroes took place. The trail measures 5.6 kilometers and runs along the mountain where members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots brigade took their last steps. The mountain where they died has become a sacred place to preserve their memory.

The bronze statue placed in the memorial park in 2018 (Photo: Arizona State Parks).

Along the path, separated by a distance of about 180 meters, there are 19 plaques commemorating firefighters, placed in order of the seniority of the members of the brigade. The oldest of them was 43 years old and the youngest was only 21. Each plaque includes an image of the fallen firefighter and a text with his story.

The circular monument located in the place where the 19 firefighters died (Photo: Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial States Park).

In 2018, Returning the Favor and Big Statues donated a life-size bronze statue depicting one of the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots brigade with helmet and chainsaw. The statue is located on a path and the names of the 19 deceased firefighters appear on its pedestal. On the path there are also information panels, commemorative benches and an observation platform 120 meters above the site. the one where the firefighters died.

The place where the 19 firefighters died (Photo: Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial States Park).

The path ends at a circular monument, made up of 19 stone baskets connected with chains, which surround the place where the 19 firefighters died. Inside the circle there is a metal cross for each of the deceased. Firefighters from several countries have been leaving patches, t-shirts and caps on this monument and on some of the panels of the memorial trail, as a tribute to their colleagues who fell in the Yarnell fire.

The plan of the memorial trail. Click on the image to see it enlarged (Source: Visit Arizona).

You can see here a video of Visit Arizona published in 2021, in which the guard of the memorial park explains what it is like and gives some tips for visiting it:

Below these lines you can see the location of this memorial park on Google Maps:

I dedicate this entry to the memory of the 19 deceased firefighters:

Eric Marsh, 43.
Jesse Steed, 36.
Clayton Whitted, 28.
Robert Caldwell, 23.
Travis Carter, 31.
Travis Turbyfill, 27.
Christopher MacKenzie, 30.
Andrew Ashcraft, 29.
Joe Thurston, 32.
Wade Parker, 22.
Anthony Rose, 23.
Garret Zuppiger, 27.
Scott Norris, 28.
Dustin Deford, 24.
William Warneke, 25.
Kevin Woyjeck, 21.
John Percin, 24.
Grant McKee, 21.
Sean Misner, 26.

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