Local Firefighters React to Arizona Wildfire Deaths


By Ellis Eskew

The 19 deaths in the Arizona wildfire Sunday are the greatest loss of life for firefighters in a wildfire in the past 80 years. Fire fighters here in Montgomery say they feel the pain when something like this happens.
Just as the fire rapidly burned through thousands of acres in Yarnell, Arizona, news of the 19 firefighters tragic deaths spread quickly Montgomery.

"We all know that we are close knit and we're a brotherhood and we have each others back. It is a grim reminder that any day could be our day that we're finished," said Captian Scott Lee.

The brotherhood runs deep not just in their own department but across the globe.

"They showed a picture of all 19 of those guys and the comraderie of those guys you could tell in the photo. You could tell it was a good group of guys," said Capt. Lee.

And even though that group of guys may have had the best training, sometimes, as State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk says, it can't always protect you.

"These fire fighters train day in and day out for situations on the fire ground. The things in the fireground and esecially in today's firefighting change, you have can elements, the winds that change the direction of the fire. They change so rapidly and sometimes the equipment we have is just not enough," said Paulk.

Montgomery firefigthers face the possibilty of death every day.
But the thought of having such a large number gone at one time... is unthinkable.

"It would hurt our guys a lot and a lot of emotional pain that would go along with that even department wide. Even losing one of our guys here in the past, in an off duty accident, hurt. I couldn't imgaine 19," said Capt. Lee.

This is the greatest loss of life for firefighters in a wildfire since the 1933 Griffith Park fire in southern California, which took 29 firefighters.
It is also the deadliest day for U.S. firefighters since 9-11, when 340 died.


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