“There is nothing stronger than a heart of a firefighter,” said Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick on July 1st at the Firefighter’s Memorial held in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Activity Center. The memorial honored the 19 men lost in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30th.

The rain that came on the 30th brought wind that changed the course of the fire, trapping and killing the entire 19-man crew of the Granite Hills Hotshots. The sole survivor is one crew member who was not working that day.

The memorial took the place of a scheduled congressional hearing, a change that Congressman Paul Gosar made in the early morning of the 1st. Boy Scout Troop 14 carried the colors, and the Activity Center was at its largest occupancy in 10 years. Sixth grader Emily McMahon sang the national anthem to begin the service. Gosar spoke to those assembled of the sadness that everyone was feeling, and the fact that there were no words to truly explain it.

Mayor Kuykendall announced that he had received two calls from the White House saying “if we needed help, all we had to do was call.” Speakers during the service included ERAU’s own Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Richard Bloom, Congressman Paul Gosar, Pastor Paul Jones, Congressman Matt Salmon, and several others speaking to the tragedy in losing 19 heroes.

With the Yarnell Fire still at zero containment, we pray that no more lives are taken during this fragile time.

It was an emotional time for everyone, and as the thousand-plus mourners supported one another in their grief, Prescott became one of the strongest communities in the nation.

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