A few hundred people in Yarnell had to pack up what they could from their homes before they headed for shelter. Most of their possessions are left behind.
It can be difficult to prioritize your life in a matter of minutes.
I tried to do this right before Hurricane Katrina. I was headed into work. I grabbed a couple pairs of shorts and T-shirts, a few pairs of underwear and a toothbrush. After the water levels receded enough, the crew I was working with drove to Houston without stopping at home.
None of us knew what we would find when we returned. My wife and I were some of the lucky ones. We didn’t lose anything. Some of our friends lost everything.
But, it didn’t seem to matter.
It didn’t matter because over 1,800 people had lost their lives. Possessions don’t mean much after that. They are just things that can be replaced. Lives can’t.
I imagine the people of Yarnell feel that way Monday. Nineteen firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew gave their lives to protect their homes and their community. Suddenly, those possessions they were hoping to protect seem so meaningless.
These 19 men were amongst the best firefighters in the country. Part of the elite. Hotshots have been described as the Navy SEALs of firefighting. They are the ones who run towards the flames, not away from them. They signed up for it. They want to do this.
They did do this, time and time again. Two of them were only 21 years old. The others were mostly a mix of guys in their 20s with a few in their 30s. One, the oldest of the crew, was 43.
In the coming days we will learn more about these men and more about their dangerous profession.
I’ll admit I don’t know that much about wildfires. But, I’m beginning to understand what it takes to fight them and just how difficult it is.
I now know how demanding hotshot training is and I appreciate it more than I ever have.
Monday, I learned that bravery is a word that does not do these 19 men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots justice because they truly left it all behind.
For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to yarnellfallenfirefighters.com.
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development