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Flags at half-staff for firefighters; politicians offer prayers

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Flags at half-staff for firefighters; politicians offer prayers

  • Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots practice cutting fire lines in 2012.
    Connor Radnovich/Cronkite News ServiceMembers of the Granite Mountain Hotshots practice cutting fire lines in 2012.
  • In 2012, Phillip Maldonado, a squad leader with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, helps crew member learn the finer points of setting up emergency fire shelters.
    Connor Radnovich/Cronkite News ServiceIn 2012, Phillip Maldonado, a squad leader with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, helps crew member learn the finer points of setting up emergency fire shelters.

Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered all state flags flown at half-staff, and politicians at all levels, including President Barack Obama, have issued tributes to the 19 firefighters killed Sunday fighting the Yarnell Hill fire south of Prescott.

President Obama

Yesterday, nineteen firefighters were killed in the line of duty while fighting a wildfire outside Yarnell, Arizona. They were heroes -- highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet. In recent days, hundreds of firefighters have battled extremely dangerous blazes across Arizona and the Southwest. The federal government is already assisting, and we will remain in close contact with state and local officials to provide the support they need. But today, Michelle and I join all Americans in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of these brave firefighters and all whose lives have been upended by this terrible tragedy.

Gov. Brewer

This weekend, our state lost nineteen of its bravest firefighters in the wake of the Yarnell Fire, near Prescott. This fire is the deadliest wildfire in state history, and our nation's deadliest in 80 years. The fire has also claimed the lives of more first responders than any single disaster since 9/11.

This day will be eternally etched in Arizona's memory. It will forever ring as one of our state's darkest, most devastating days. It will forever remind us of the constant peril our firefighters selflessly face protecting us. We can never repay these nineteen men and their families for their service and the ultimate sacrifice they made on our behalf. We can, however, offer them our deepest, eternal debt of gratitude.

As details surrounding this tragedy unfold, I ask that you continue to keep these men, their families and all of our first responders in your prayers. Remember that, for them, no task is ever without threat or danger. That they go to work daily with that risk in-mind makes them heroic.

In their honor, I have ordered that all state flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise, July 1, 2013, to sunset, July 3, 2013. I hope all individuals and businesses join in this solemn tribute.

U.S. Sen. John McCain

This evening, the families and loved ones of the brave firefighters who lost their lives battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in Central Arizona – as well as those still fighting the fire – are in the thoughts and prayers of all Americans. This devastating loss is a reminder of the grave risks our firefighters take every day on our behalf in Arizona and in communities across this nation. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

It’s difficult to put into words the pain shared by all Arizonans this morning. As the news of this tragedy unfolded last night, we at first felt shock and disbelief. And then a heartwrenching reality began to set in. These 19 courageous firefighters will long be remembered as heroes, but today they are deeply mourned as family members, dear friends, neighbors and colleagues. My heart goes out to their families, and we will spare no effort to assist them and the good folks of Yarnell, Prescott and other affected communities. We will not forget the sacrifice of these 19 firefighters. They went to work every day – to a job that was dangerous and thankless. They will never return, and our Arizona family will never be the same. May their brave souls rest in peace.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva

“Firefighters dedicate their careers to keeping the rest of us safe, and their bravery in the cause of protecting the public is sometimes taken for granted,” Grijalva said. “It takes more courage and professionalism than we imagine to face a wall of fire with nothing but a small shelter for protection. These nineteen men died protecting other families’ homes, doing what they believed in. Our gratitude for their efforts and our sorrow at their loss cannot easily be measured in words.”

Grijalva expressed his hope and belief that the people of Prescott and the surrounding area will remember the firefighters’ sacrifice after the fire has been contained.

“People call them first responders, but firefighters are often the only responders,” Grijalva said. “They are men and women just like us who choose to dedicate their lives to protecting others. The nineteen men killed yesterday will be remembered not just for the lives and homes they saved, but for their willingness to brave that risk knowing the dangers, just as all firefighters do. I and my office are ready to assist their families, and the others affected by this terrible fire, in any way we can.”

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber

My thoughts and my prayers go out to the families of the 19 brave Arizona firefighters who died in the line of duty yesterday – battling to save the homes of people they may have never met, but who were part of a community they selflessly served each day.

This tragedy touches every Arizonan and every American. My son-in-law Jason is an Arizona firefighter and today my family takes special pause recognizing the lost lives of his colleagues and the immense grief and loss felt by their families and communities. We also pray for the safety of those who continue to battle the flames.

Few of us can fathom the courage that these firefighters exhibited as they ran into areas as others fled. Our fellow Arizonans gave their lives fulfilling the words and the spirit of "The Firefighter's Prayer:"

  • I want to fill my calling and
  • to give the best in me
  • to guard my neighbor and
  • protect his property
  • And if according to your will
  • I have to lose my life
  • bless with your protecting hand
  • my children and my wife.

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