The Story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots

The story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots begins with 20 men. 

To many, they are husbands, brothers, sons, and friends. To the world, they are heroes. 

It was June 30, 2013, and it was a dry, windy day. On that day, 19 of the 20-man wildfire fighting crew perished while battling a fire near Yarnell, Arizona.

How did the Yarnell Hill Fire begin?  

The Yarnell Hill Fire started two days earlier, on June 28, 2013, with lightning.That June, it struck the area, which was experiencing a drought. The brush and surrounding vegetation quickly became fuel to feed the fire. Substantial winds carried the fire further across the landscape.

The fire began to threaten Yarnell as well as Peeples Valley, a nearby residential area of homes and ranches.In all, the Yarnell Hill Fire would decimate120 homes and char8,400 acres, according to sources.

As they fought to battle the flames, the winds made a tragic shift, entrapping the men.

Below are the names of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire: 

  • Andrew Ashcraft
  • Robert Caldwell
  • Travis Carter
  • Dustin Deford
  • Christopher MacKenzie
  • Eric Marsh
  • Grant McKee
  • Sean Misner
  • Scott Norris
  • Wade Parker
  • John Percin
  • Anthony Rose
  • Jesse Steed
  • Joe Thurston
  • Travis Turbyfill
  • William Warneke
  • Clayton Whitted
  • Kevin Woyjeck
  • Garret Zuppiger

Brendan McDonough, chosen as a lookout for the hotshots, survived the fire. 

Remembering the Hotshots: The Eric Marsh Foundation 

Granite Mountain Hotshot Superintendent Eric Marsh was one of the individuals who lost his life that day. Eric served for more than two decades in the fire service and was passionate about fighting wildland fires, as well as protecting property and lives. 

Eric's wife, Amanda Marsh, started The Eric Marsh Foundation (EMF). It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for injured or fallen wildland firefighters and their families. EMF also provides scholarships to Wildland Fire Academies across the nation for incoming students, and more. 

Today, the Yarnell Hill Fire site in Arizona is now known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. 

"The families and the communities of Prescott and Yarnell worked hand-in-hand with the state to develop Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park as a place for healing and to honor the lives and legacy of 19 hotshots," says the Arizona State Parks web site. 

The trail is seven miles roundtrip and features 19 granite memorial plaques to honor every fallen hotshot. 

Today, the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots lives on; EMF continues to support the mission and legacy of the hotshots by providing monetary support to wildland firefighters and their families. 

SOURCES:

https://www.arizonahighways.com/blog/key-figure-yarnell-hill-fire-recovery-receives-award
https://azstateparks.com/hotshots/explore/trails
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/fire-on-the-mountain/361613/