PHOENIX — The man known as the father of the Granite Mountain Hotshots said it’s going to be tough knowing his hotshots won’t be home for the holidays.
Prescott Wildland Fire Division Chief Darrell Willis started the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2001 and on June 30, 19 of the teams 20 members died when the Yarnell Hill Fire overtook them after a dramatic shift in the wind direction in a canyon in Yarnell.
Willis said the toughest days are still ahead.
“We’re starting to heal. There has been a lot of activity and tremendous support for the families internationally and the reality is starting to hit us even harder with the holidays here. I had these guys over to my house for dinner. I knew them, their wives and kids, one of Granite Mountain team members dated my daughter. My son was on the team in 2007.”
Willis responded to a question that has been asked many times since the tragedy on June 30: Will the Granite Mountain Hotshots be reformed with new team members?
“No, right now no,” he said. “It’s very complicated with the workman’s comp, the insurance pool. The city is expecting a huge payout for the life of the families for workman comp benefits and the premiums are going to be high.”
And even though Willis doesn’t believe that the Granite Mountain team will ever be brought back with new members, that doesn’t mean the rebuilding isn’t underway.
“I’m pulling together a fuels crew to do some work made up of seasonal Prescott National Forest hotshots to help us do work this winter around town,” he said. “There’s plenty of work to do.”
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- 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
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 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