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Organizers struggle to make memorial to Yarnell firefighters a reality

PHOENIX — The Yarnell Hill Memorial Site Board has launched a website to take in online donations to help build a memorial to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots killed on duty.

Prescott Fire Division Chief Darrell Willis, who sits on the memorial’s board, said the Arizona State Legislature gave the fund $500,000 to buy the state trust land where the June 2013 tragedy took place.

Though there is no estimate on costs of a design, which hasn’t been decided, or start-up costs, the memorial itself will need donations to become reality.

“The money that is there is not for any memorial, crosses, interpretative signs and work it will take to get into the site. That’s where the donations will go,” Willis said.

Donations also could be used to buy any private land to build trails across into the site.

“If somebody wanted to donate access to the site that would be the ultimate. We’ve approached some private land owners and they’re thinking about it.

“If we have to pay for right of way it could get into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’ve looked at a couple of routes in. One would involve a three-mile hike from the highway on private land.”

Willis formed the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2004.

All but one of the crew died in the state’s deadliest firefighter disaster.