Mementos were everywhere Monday, one year after the Yarnell Hill wildfire claimed the lives of 19 firefighters.
A series of tributes and remembrances included a ceremony featuring a bell-ringing and reading of the names of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Businesses around Prescott displayed banners in honor of the firefighters, and visitors and residents wore T-shirts bearing their unit’s logo and “19” to mark the number of deaths. The firefighters died June 30, 2013 when they were overrun by flames while fighting an erratic brush fire near Prescott. Visitors and residents attended an exhibit at a city hotel that showcases the men and their time on the fire lines.
Robert Hinshaw, a member of the city’s antique auto club, stood alongside Prescott’s first ladder truck.
“It’s the first city ladder truck,” he explained. “It was built in 1931. It has ladders that go up to 60 feet.”
A firefighter himself for 20 years, Hinshaw’s son was on duty on June 30 of last year and his grandson served for years as a Hotshot elsewhere in the state. For him, it all ties together — the tragedy, the firefighting history, the support of the city.
He explained the significance of the truck’s presence at Monday’s events, as well as its origins and procurement.
“Our Prescott antique auto club, which is a club we started in 1970 at Charlotte Hall Museum — an auto club — purchased this in 1984 from the city for a dollar,” he retold. “And it was going to go to Mexico to our sister city but it didn’t have a pump at that time, so they refused it and a couple of our club members bid on it and we got it for a dollar.”
Days after the tragedy last year, in Prescott’s Fourth of July parade, the truck donned memorial banners and the names of the 19 fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots. That, coupled with the truck’s rich past, made it quite the symbol both then and Monday.
“It’s got so much history, because it was in service until the early 80s,” Hinsworth said.
As seen with the truck, which Hinsworth and his club could stand to see go, those in Prescott cherish their past. And when it comes to Yarnell, they’ll always remember through relics like antique ladder trucks.
“We’ll never forget the 19 guys and their families, especially,” he said.
KTAR’s Sandra Haros and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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