Monday, July 1, 2013
When a Forest Turns Into Hell
Yesterday 19 firefighters from Prescott, Arizona perished in the line of duty. The men were part of an elite squad of first responders, battling a newly erupted blaze near the tiny village of Yarnell. This has been a busy fire season. However, thanks to the efforts of these men 2013 had so far seen little loss of life or property. We live about 40 miles from Yarnell, but last night the wind brought the smoke to us and the air filled with bitter, acrid fumes that made our eyes water and breathing difficult.
We can only imagine what these heroic souls endured in their final minutes. These men were among the very best in their profession and had successfully waged war against nature's hellfires numerous times. This time something went wrong. Someone miscalculated or the wind made an expected shift. We will never know for sure.
Prescott is a charming historic town that at one time was the capital of the Arizona territory. It is set amid great natural beauty with rocky canyons, crystal lakes and stands of towering Ponderosa Pines which, this time of year, can ignite into the furnaces of purgatory. Prescott's population is about 30,000. I don't know how many firefighters the town employs, but suddenly losing 19 must be a devastating blow. At any rate, it is the largest single day loss of first responders since 9/11.
There are many ways to donate money to help the families of the fallen and I will provide links below. But equally important, let's all take a moment to think about those who risk their lives for us everyday and the tremendous gratitude and respect we owe them.
100 Club of Arizona
Prescott Firefighter's Charities
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