Prescott, Arizona holds an emotional service in memory of 19 fallen firefighters
Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 8:23 AM -
Memorials and momentoes to the fallen are piling up outside the Prescott, Arizona fire station...once a second home to 19 firefighters who answered a dangerous call and paid the ultimate price.
Monday night a grieving community gathered to remember the victims who range in age from 21 to 43.
Emotions are still raw, but the fight to contain the deadly fire must go on.
"Many of these firefighters were sons, they were brothers, they were fathers and we are going to miss them so much," said an emotional state representative, Karen Fann, at Monday's memorial.
The men were members of an elite firefighting group known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, and were killed Sunday as they battled a raging wildfire near Phoenix. The blaze killed nearly the entire crew, making it the deadliest day for firefighters since 9/11.
US President Barack Obama says the deaths of these men is a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices made by emergency personnel.
"They were heroes..." Read President Obama's statement on the firefighter tragedy in Arizona: https://t.co/Fstoz9wcmS— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 1, 2013
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall read "The Hotshots" prayer.
"For if this day on the line, I should lose my life, Lord, bless my hotshot crew, my children and my wife."
Earlier on Monday, a processional of vans carried the bodies of the fallen to the medical examiner's office.
"Those families lost, the Prescott fire department lost, the City of Prescott lost, the state of Arizona, the nation, cause these were the best," said a tearful Don Davendorf, Prescott Fire Marshal.
"Just as we honour the memory of the firefighters lost that day as they charged into the burning towers, we will remember the brave men of the Granite Mountain Hotshots," Arizona Governor Jan Brewer added.
Authorities believe the fire was caused by lightning on Friday afternoon. Officials say a drastic shift in winds, combined with unusual drought conditions, trapped the crew.
There are still hundreds of firefighters still working to get this fire under control. By last count, over 3,000 hectares had burned, 200 homes destroyed.
With files from CNN