While my family and I were resting comfortably in our air-conditioned home Sunday, nineteen young firefighters lost their lives in a fire I didn’t even know existed. I can only surmise that while I was watching “Through the Wormhole,” news of the fire was being broadcast on local stations.
I was stunned when I opened up Facebook early Monday morning and the Yarnell fire headlines were posted everywhere. There has to be a mistake; we are only an hour away from the area. It must be a different Yarnell and People’s Valley. The more I read, the more I understood that these young heroes died in one of our favorite motorcycle riding areas. It was no mistake and I suddenly felt a surge of guilt because I didn’t even know lightning had started a fire in this beloved Arizona town.
Shock and dismay left me speechless as I also started worrying about all the people, livestock and wildlife in the area. There are many quaint homes in Yarnell and large beautiful homes dotting the hillside landscape. You can also find many large ranches in the area…some going back a hundred years or more – such rich history going up in smoke.
I am now learning that this area has not had a fire for over 40 years and cutbacks in forest management budgets had made matters even worse. Yarnell was a fire looking for a place to happen. While I get angry thinking about the lack of funds to keep the area free from out-of-control wild fires, the loss of those young, brave men creeps back in my head and heart and I just stop thinking and become numb with grief.
No one can imagine the grief of family, friends and work comrades; it is beyond comprehension. The fire has ravaged the lives of so many and it angrily consumes more and more as time goes by. The weather has not been much help as we still continue to have record high temperatures and wind.
In retrospect, it will be easy to point fingers, but the damage is done and once again we are humbled by nature’s fury. Nothing will bring the Hot Shots back and Mother Nature will repair her home in time. We will also rebuild our homes and places of business. One can only hope that lessons are learned so we can keep this from happening elsewhere in our beautiful America.
I’m just saying,