The 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling a wildfire near the Arizona town of Yarnell are being remembered across the nation.
On Monday, San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood held a moment of silence in their honor, and ordered that all flags be flown at half-staff until the funerals of each of the deceased firefighters is complete.
The firefighters were members of the “Granite Mountain Hot Shots,” an elite group of firefighters within the Prescott Fire Department, known for their extensive training and physical ability.
“Any time we have a large life, or any life of a firefighter around the country, it affects firefighters all over,” Hood said. “It specifically affects us because of the magnitude of loss of life of firefighters.”
The deaths are the greatest loss of life for any U.S. fire department since the Sept. 11 attacks.
To illustrate what the Arizona firefighters are up against, Hood held a brief demonstration of the emergency shelters used by the Prescott firefighters, and also in place in many departments, including San Antonio’s Fire Department.
The shelters look like a large aluminized sleeping bag, and are used only in worst-case scenarios when a firefighter is unable to escape the flames.
“No matter how well these firefighters are trained or prepared, as with the firefighters that are protecting the city today, sometimes things happen, and they have to try and manage it the best way they can,” Hood said.
Hood asked that the public pray for the firefighters and their families, as surviving firefighters continue to battle the fire for a fourth day.