Prescott marks 2nd anniversary of Yarnell fire tragedy
|In Memory of The #YarnellHillFire|
"No words will ever fully convey our gratitude for these 19 heroes — we owe them a debt that can never be repaid," - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey
|Prescott 19 memorial|
The firefighters working at Station 7 now have all worked there a year. But they still don't step on the black tiles.
"We'll never be Granite Mountain Hotshots," said Ronnie Gamble, who was hired two years ago after working as a hotshot on another crew. "We honor that rule. We'll never walk on the black tiles."
Gamble also fought the Yarnell Hill Fire, as part of the Blue Ridge Hotshots.
It was his team who picked up Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain crew who was working as a scout some distance from the fire. The other 19 members of the Granite Mountain crew perished when they were overtaken by fire in a brush-filled canyon.
In the days following the deaths, the fire station became a shrine. People left objects — flags, cards, stuffed animals — along the fence around the station. Soon, the facility could not been seen for the mementos.
Those objects were removed, boxed and preserved for posterity. Slowly, the station became a workplace again.
The building now is the fire station for Gamble, his division chief and a crew of between two and 15, depending on the season. It is still a crew that fights wildfires by taking chainsaws and axes to dried trees and brush that could serve as fuel. They do it ahead of time when the sky is blue, not orange and filled with smoke.
"The work is very similar," he said. "There's just no fire."
Related News: At 11 a.m. Tuesday, representatives from the state parks department will gather at Prescott's Courthouse Square for a public auction.