RIP: For 19 Firefighters


You can read the news articles about this like the one here.

But speaking words from the heart, I found this from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes here.

.. it is said they were carrying 50-70 pound packs, hiking 7 miles to the fireline, known for their aggressive problem solving, working extreme hours in fire and flames all around, average age 22 years old– it is said tonight that 18 of the 19 crew of firefighters who died in the Arizona fires when the fire jumped– were from the Granite Mountain Hotshots Fire Team. 19 young beautiful lives. Gone.

Their names are not being released out of respect for families.

I cannot begin to think, say enough, or too little, or too something. One of my friends has a boy on the firelines in Ariz. I am waiting to hear he is safe. That as many as can be are safe.

For those who were lost…
Shakespeare was one of those who said it best in the times of unspeakable loss…

…Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

May all be comforted in every way possible, now, and in the days to come.

Amen, sister.

10 thoughts on “RIP: For 19 Firefighters”

  1. I mostly set on the sidelines these day,after fivedecades involved in wildfire. It is better for the firefighters and me if watch from the sidleines. However, I remember when dry ham sandwiches, dry skin, dry eyes and fatigue were the norm, and I think of the Prescott Hot Shots enjoying the same until yesterday. I have heard the old mantra of why didn’t they let it burn? A good question without an easy answer. Homes were one obvious reason, but there were others such as habitat, air pollution,carbon invasive species, community economics and more personal for the people living in the community, a sense of place that is important to them. Then there is the question, if the fire burns on and on, where is it stopped?

    If we are going to continue to live in the West we, collectively, have got to learn to live with fire. We need to accept fire as a tool to help manage vegetation to meet our needs for resources, whether it be a meadow, a little streamt, the Columbia River or whatever the source that bings water to our homes and businesses. Whether we like it or not trees are needed for the wood we use to build our homes or buy at Home Depot for the week-end projects. They are also important to reducing carbon along with other living vegetation

    We need to thnk on these and other resources as our national population heads to 400 million. And we need to remember these natural resources are not free. The Congress and the Whitehouse wring hands over the cost of wildfires, but on a federal scale the amount of money spent on fire protection is hard to find in the big picture of federal spending. The cost in human lives is another matter, and that needs some serious thinking.

    I understand the shock and loss felt in Prescott today. There are no words I have to ease the pain.But I can say thank you to the crew for doing their best to stop the fire and go home. I find it rewarding to see the kind of young people still willing to take the risk of fire and tolerate the dry ham, dry eyes, fatigue and the dirt.
    The ‘Shot crew was dong the best they could to preserve resources and protect people. .

  2. My thoughts are with the fallen firefighters and their families and community.

    According to the Yarnell Hill fire is burning in chaparral and grass.

    According to the National Weather Service, the weather in the area since the fire started has been high temperatures between 102 to 104 degrees with humidity as low as 9% and wind gusts as high as 40 miles per hour.

    Some frequent commenters on this blog often call for the Forest Service and other land management agencies to put out all wildfires. Phrases like “we need to be more aggressive and put these fires out” are common both in this blog and in letters to the editor during fire season across the west. Often times some of these same commenters claim that more logging will prevent “extreme” wildfires.

    What about the Yarnell Hill Wildfire? Should the Forest Service and Arizona State Forestry Division have been more aggressive with this fire? What would the parents, family members and friends of the fallen fire-fighters say? Is “fuel reduction” work in chaparral and grass even possible? Does the tragic loss of life from a wildfire burning in chaparral and grass on 104 degree days with 9% humidity and 40 mph winds make the case for the type of logging work that some commenters on this site claim will prevent “extreme” wildfire? If not, will that prevent some people from using this tragedy to call for more logging?

    • I have kept quiet on this tragedy, because of what you are pointing out, Matt. However, within hours of this loss of life, I saw one trollish commenter on the CNN website pushing the idea that “global warming” was solely at fault for these deaths. He probably posted more than 20 separate comments defending his mindset to a wide array of posters.

      I will not use this tragedy to push an agenda. In the coming days, we will see investigation and analysis about what happened and what went wrong. It is way to early to be making conclusions without knowing what really happened. I fully expect that there will be a National “stand down”, with firefighters being reminded that safety is the most important thing, in any situation.

      I will reserve my comments until later but, I have not changed my mind about how to fight wildfires. Yes, I have fought fire in low humidity and 100+ degree temps.

    • Rule 10 of the standard firefighting orders: Fight fire aggressively, having provided for safety first.

      This is inconsistent with the Let-Burn policy! The larger and more intense a fire gets, the more dangerous it is to people, property and “pursuit of happiness”. No one is demanding that firefighters violate Rule 10, Matt.

  3. I’m not sure how FaceBook URL’s transfer to WordPress blogs, but this will hopefully show a picture of the Granite Mountain Hotshots as a crew and, individually, as proud and confident individuals just entering their adult years:

    Hope that works. Otherwise, the picture can be found on the Facebook site dedicated to their memory:

    Matt discusses comments on this blog favoring logging as a method of fuel reduction in areas at risk of wildfire. And he points out that logging wasn’t an option in this situation, which is true. Wildfire fighting is indeed a risky and often dangerous occupation; and at the same time there is a common belief among many resource managers and scientists that fuel management strategies can be successfully employed to reduce future risks to human lives and property. For areas such as this portion of Arizona, appropriate fuel management tools for returning the land to a manageable (including future wildfires) condition might include grazing, herbicides, mowing and/or regular broadcast burning.

    These young men died far too soon, but doing what they loved to do and with good friends they trusted and enjoyed being and working with. Protecting their neighbors. Let’s not let their lives be in vain. We can, and should, do better.

    • Bob… the Facebook works fine for me, but I have an FB account.. I saved the photo and posted it above, just in case it doesn’t work for some.

  4. We all mourn for these beautiful young people and the families they left behind.
    Some of the comments, however, are hard to comprehend. There is a stark reality that “sh–t happens” in this imperfect world, that no amount of planning or prevention or hand-wringing can change.
    “If only…” or “what if…” is crap at this stage. We don’t know what happened to trap all these experienced men in this manner. But I would hazard a guess it was simply a sudden, dramatic, wind shift that caught them so quickly. Nothing else makes sense. So to have some wish there had been grazing or brush cutting to prevent the fire is comparable to some nitwit suggest that there be no more skyscrapers built in New York City after 9/11, so as to “prevent” future terrorist plane attacks.
    Face the facts…some things in this world are not foreseeable or preventable. Fighting fire tight, up on the hot fireline in these extreme conditions of temp and humidity and unstable weather patterns would seem folly…in my opinion. But I wasn’t there and I just don’t know who made the decision to be so aggressive.
    However, I do suspect that it was the presence of homes and infrastructure that needed protection that drove the decision.
    Can’t help but wonder if wildfire control decisions made by firefighters who largely deal in urban or structure fire situations are the most qualified to decide such life-threatening effforts.
    Looking forward to the future investigations on all of this to learn the true details of this tragedy.


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