Fifth anniversary of Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 firefighte - Tucson News Now

Fifth anniversary of Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 firefighters is this weekend

The Granite Mountain Hotshots (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo) The Granite Mountain Hotshots (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photo)
(Source: AZ State Parks) (Source: AZ State Parks)
(Source Black Label Media and Sony Pictures) (Source Black Label Media and Sony Pictures)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of one of the most devastating tragedies in Arizona history – the deaths of 19 hotshots during the Yarnell Hill Fire.

"The Yarnell fire was one of the most tragic events in Arizona history," Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement last June 30, which he declared Yarnell 19 Remembrance Day. "Nineteen courageous firefighters sprinted toward danger in order to keep their fellow Arizonans out of harm’s way, and no words will ever be enough to express our gratitude for their service to our state. Arizonans across the state send their thoughts, prayers, and support to their loved ones."

The Goodwin Fire was burning south of Prescott at the time. Many of the people evacuated then had been forced to evacuate during the Yarnell Hill Fire, as well.

[RELATED: Arizona remembers deadly Yarnell Hill Fire as Goodwin Fire burns]

While the Yarnell Hill Fire was relatively small in terms of physical size – roughly 8,400 acres – it was destructive. In addition to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died – spotter Brendan McDonough was the lone survivor – there were 22 injuries and 129 buildings lost.

[MAP: How big is 8,400 acres?]

It was the deadliest incident of any kind for U.S. firefighters since 9/11.

Mother Nature sparked what became the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona with a lightning strike about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix on June 28, 2013. The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and winds cause the fire to grow fast.

[ORIGINAL STORY: 19 firefighters dead in Yarnell wildfire]

On June 30, the winds whipped up the flames in a serious way, causing the Yarnell Hill Fire to balloon from 300 acres to more than 2,000.

At one point that day, the fire overran the Granite Mountain Hotshots who were trapped in a canyon not far from a ranch. 

[RELATED: Yarnell ranch owners closest to where Granite Mountain Hotshots died recount tragic day]

"This is as dark a day as I can remember," then Gov. Jan Brewer said.

"This devastating loss is a reminder of the grave risks our firefighters take every day on our behalf in Arizona and in communities across this nation," Sen. John McCain said. "Their sacrifice will never be forgotten."

[SLIDESHOW: Remembering the Granite Mountain Hotshots]

[ARIZONA'S FAMILY SPECIAL: Granite Mountain Hotshots: Heros and Heartbreak]

More than 3,000 people attended a public memorial service for the men in Prescott Valley on July 2. It would be another week before the Yarnell Hill Fire declared contained.

A memorial park and 3.5 -mile hiking trail were dedicated in honor of the Yarnell 19 on November 2016. Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is the first of its kind in Arizona.

[RELATED: Park, trail dedicated to 19 fallen Arizona firefighters]

[WHAT TO EXPECT: Hiking Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park]

That park is where Joe Zambrano, a Los Angeles firefighter, is ending his Running to Remember event. Decked out in full gear (which weighs roughly 45 pounds), Zambrano started his run Saturday at the LA County Fire Museum and plans to arrive at the memorial park on June 30. 

[READ MORE: Fireman running from L.A. to Yarnell in honor of Granite Mountain Hotshots]

Earlier this year, a life-size statue of a firefighter with a chainsaw and other gear was unveiled at the park.

[READ MORE: Statue unveiled honoring Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in fire]

“Only the Brave,” a movie based on the Granite Mountain Hotshots, was released in October 2017. It’s available on Prime Video.

The cast and crew, along with Arizona firefighters and first responders, attended a special screening at Tempe Marketplace ahead of the general release.

[READ MORE: Former Granite Mountain Hotshot plays best friend in movie about Yarnell Hill Fire]

[WATCH: Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at 'Only the Brave']

[RELATED: Cast, crew and firefighters attend screening of 'Only the Brave' at Tempe Marketplace]

[RELATED: Granite Mountain hotshots remembered at Hall of Flame in Phoenix ]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona wildfires]


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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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