The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Nation & World

July 7, 2013

Procession brings home fallen Arizona firefighters

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Just as they were taken one at a time from the scene of their deaths, 19 firefighters killed in a wildfire a week ago will be returned to their home in the Arizona mountains on Sunday.

Each elite Hotshot firefighter will be in his own hearse as the hourslong procession takes the men's bodies from a coroner's office in Phoenix, through the town where they died and on to where they lived in the mountain community of Prescott.

American flags that were draped over the men's bodies in Yarnell have stayed with them since and will be with them until they are buried. After that, the flags will be given to their families.

The hearses will be accompanied by motorcycle escorts and honor guard members.

It's unclear how long the procession will last, but the route is about 125 miles long.

Since their fellow firefighters arrived at the scene where they were killed, the fallen firefighters have not been alone, a tradition among those in the profession in the U.S.

"Since they were discovered, they have never been out of the presence of a brother firefighter," said Paul Bourgeois, a Phoenix-area fire chief who is acting as a spokesman in Prescott for the firefighters' families. "From the time they were taken to the medical examiner in Phoenix, while they're at the medical examiner's office, when they are received in a funeral home — there will always be a brother firefighter on site with them until they are interred.

"That's something people don't realize. We never leave your side," he said of the tradition. "It's a comfort to the survivors, whether they're families or fellow firefighters."

The firefighters were killed a week ago in the Yarnell Hill fire, sparked by lightning on June 28. It was 90 percent contained Saturday, after destroying more than 100 homes in Yarnell and burning about 13 square miles. The town remained evacuated.

The crew of Hotshots was working to build a fire line between the blaze and Yarnell when erratic winds suddenly shifted the fire's direction, causing it to hook around the firefighters and cut off access to a ranch that was to be their safety zone.

The highly trained men were in the prime of their lives, and many left behind wives — some pregnant — and small children.

An investigation into the tragedy has found only that winds took the firefighters by surprise; more thorough findings will come much later.

1
Text Only
Nation & World
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium