USA — Last week, 19 firefighters lost their lives, battling a fire in Arizona. On Sunday, members of the Wildland Firefighter Foundation in Boise honored their Arizona brothers with a very special gift, a statue of a Wildland Firefighter.
The Wildland Firefighter Foundation leaders said they want to be there for the fallen firefighters in Prescott. This is their way of showing respect and honor.
The statue stands at almost 10 feet tall and weighs more than 1,000 pounds, but after some maneuvering and extra help, the Wildland Firefighter Foundation was able to lift it from its base at the Boise airport, where it stood for 10 years.
“The most beautiful thing was when I saw it being pulled up off the sand, and it was rising up into the sun. It was enough to break hearts all over again,” said Amanda Deshazo, Wildland Firefighter Foundation.
The 19 firefighters, who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire, were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Amanda Deshazo can also relate to that loss, as she used to be a wildland firefighter herself. “I lost my good friend, Ron Chambless, said Deshazo, and two years ago today, we lost Caleb Hamm. He was my good friend too, so its been really rough.
Foundation leaders are flying on the same plane with the statue for a memorial service in Prescott that will take place on Tuesday. Vice President Biden and the families of the fallen firefighters will be there to honor the 19 lives lost.
“We funded the statue, and I installed it. So, I’m glad to be going on the plane to Arizona,” said Burk Minor, Wildland Firefighter Foundation Director.
After the memorial, the pilots will bring the bodies of the 19 firefighters back to their home towns. “On the return flight, we will have the remains of three of the firefighters,” said Scott Bohnenkamp, ATX Air Services.
Right now, the Yarnell Hill fire has grown to more than 8,000 acres, forcing residents from several communities nearby, to evacuate from their homes. Fire investigators believe lightning sparked the blaze.
“I was thinking about them, and what they’re going through, and how much of a loss this is to the wildland fire community,” said Deshazo.
Wildland Firefighter Foundation’s main focus is to help the families of firefighters killed in the line of duty and to assist injured firefighters and their families.