PHOENIX — A candlelight vigil was held in Phoenix Monday night to honor the 19 fallen firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill Fire.
“The public safety community would like to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts, and your prayers in this time of mourning,” Phoenix Fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs said to begin the ceremony.
Jacobs spoke briefly in front of dozens of citizens and firefighters gathered in front of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office to pay tribute to the fallen members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot crew.
“These men have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community,” Jacobs said. “The dedication, perseverance and steadfastness that these men posses will be greatly missed.”
During the vigil, two honors guards read the names of all 19 firefighters that died on Saturday night. After each name, a bell was rung and a moment of silence was given.
Following the ceremony the sound of bagpipes roared and pierced the heavy silence that lay over the crowd.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton did not address the public during the ceremony, but did spend time talking with attendees after the vigil.
“Firefighting is a family, and a loss of these 19 young heroes at this fire in Yarnell touches these firefighters in ways that I can’t understand,” Stanton said.
Stanton stressed how difficult the deaths of the firefighters must be on their families, the people of Yarnell and the state of Arizona.
Stanton said he has spoken with the Mayor of Prescott, Marlin Kuykendall, and also fire officials in Prescott to assure them they have full support from Phoenix.
Onlookers watched the candles burn and flicker, while some placed flowers and signs nearby to show support.
Amy Fink attend the vigil and drove from Mesa with her daughter to pay respects to the men who died.
“[I’m here] out of respect for these men that gave their lives,” Fink said. “They go out the door each day to protect us, not knowing if they’re going to come home.
They’re the true heroes. Not the baseball players, not the actors… these are the true heroes.”
The 19 firefighters were among an elite group of firefighters based in Prescott. The men died Saturday night as the Yarnell Hill Fire began to engulf the town of Yarnell southwest of Prescott.
Their bodies were brought to Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Phoenix Monday afternoon.
Many of the men who died were in their 20s. The eldest was Eric Marsh, 43, and the youngest was Grant McKee, only 21.
For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to yarnellfallenfirefighters.com.