19 firefighters remembered one year after Yarnell Hill Fire

19 firefighters remembered one year after Yarnell Hill Fire

Monday marked the one year anniversary of the 19 hotshot firefighters who lost their lives battling the lighting-sparked Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona, north of Phoenix.

The city of Prescott remembered the Granite Mountain Hotshots with a memorial ceremony in its downtown area. Some people in the community hiked at a favorite training spot for the hot shots and loved ones gathered for a private service at the Prescott cemetary where many of the hotshots are buried.

Rick Griggs, battalion chief at Cal Fire station 33 in Palm Desert, said when one firefighter dies in the line of duty, it hurts the entire firefighting community across the country, but 19 was unimaginable.

"It was a devastating loss. It struck our department close to home. A retired captain lost his son and a close friend of mine lost his son as well," said Griggs.

At 4:45 p.m., firefighters across the country and in the Coachella Valley took a moment of silence to honor the fallen heroes.

"We've also taken the time to discuss the tragedy ... and some of the lessons we can learn from that and how we can improve our delivery of services, and our response to wildfires," said Griggs.

The deaths sparked many questions, which are still unanswered to this day.

"The thing I need to know most to heal are answers," said Juliann Ashcraft, widow of hotshot Andrew Ashcraft. "I need the truth. I need to know why my husband didn't come home. I need to know why he died in that fire."

The hotshots died just six days before the Coachella Valley lost one of its own, 41-year-old firefighter Christopher Douglas, killed when he was struck on the shoulder of eastbound Interstate 10 at the Monterey Avenue on ramp in Palm Desert, where his engine was stopped. The engine stopped so firefighters could put on their gear. Douglas and his crew were responding to a roll-over crash on I-10 near Washington Street, Hamilton said.

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