We had just walked into a friend’s home in the Bay Area when a television news report said that 19 wildland firefighters had perished fighting a blaze near Yarnell, Ariz. followed by a tagline of “details at 6:00.”
I said to my wife that as tragic as any loss of life is, the report was, no doubt, mistaken — 19 — all dead, seemed almost impossible. A short time later we found out it was true. It was ghastly and heartbreaking.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots are being remembered Monday in moving tributes in Prescott and Yarnell and in the lives and minds of firefighters all over the world who understand far better than the rest of us. Every time I see the television coverage of a natural disaster — tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes in Florida, annual flooding along the Mississippi — I always wonder why those people keep coming back to the same areas of regular devastation. And they always answer the same way.
“Because it’s our home.”
Yarnell is changing. Burnt homes are being replaced. Lost firefighter babies have been born. But one thing that will be a part of every summer…the memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
I’m Pat McMahon