PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- The city of Prescott is reeling after the devastating loss of 19 firefighters -- members of an elite unit called the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The team was battling the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday.
The Prescott Fire Department released the names of the men Monday afternoon. At a candlelight vigil a few hours later, the names of the fallen were read aloud, a bell tolling for each man killed in the line of duty.
"These men have made the ultimate sacrifice for their community," said Capt. Jonathan Jacobs of the Phoenix Fire Department. "The dedication, perseverance and steadfastness that these men possessed will be greatly missed."
"Many are called, but few are chosen to be heroes," he continued. "To the crew of Granite Mountain, you will not be forgotten. Godspeed."
The Yarnell 19
- Andrew Ashcraft, 29
- Robert Caldwell, 23
- Travis Carter, 31
- Dustin Deford, 24
- Christopher MacKenzie, 30
- Eric Marsh, 43
- Grant McKee, 21
- Sean Misner, 26
- Scott Norris, 28
- Wade Parker, 22
- John Percin, 24
- Anthony Rose, 23
- Jesse Steed, 36
- Joe Thurston, 32
- Travis Turbyfill, 27
- William Warneke, 25
- Clayton Whitted, 28
- Kevin Woyjeck, 21
- Garret Zuppiger, 27
The remains of the men were transported to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office Monday. Autopsies will determine how each died.
The Yarnell Hill Fire started with a lightning strike Friday afternoon. Sunday morning, it was relatively small -- about 200 acres. High winds whipped up the flames late Sunday afternoon, causing the fire to grow to 2,000 acres, destroy at least 50 homes and threaten hundreds more.
By Monday morning, Carrie Templin of the Yarnell Fire Department said the fire had grown to an estimated 8,300 ares -- about 13 square miles. Containment was still at zero. The numbers had not changed after a day of hard work on the fire lines.
According to 3TV Chief Meteorologist Royal Norman, a thunderstorm collapsed near the fire. Based on weather station data, the wind direction changed by about 180 degrees, with gusts reported up to 43 mph.
The firefighters were caught when the fire suddenly changed direction and trapped them as they tried to deploy their emergency fire shelters. It's still not clear exactly what happened out there.
"The shelters are meant as a very last resort, something that we train for, but we never envision it happening" Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward told 3TV's Crystal Cruz Monday morning, just hours after the men were killed. "We're just trying to figure this all out, wrap our heads around it."