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19 Fallen Firefighters Return To Prescott

Jude Joffe-Block
The procession left downtown Phoenix early Sunday afternoon.

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19 Fallen Firefighters Return To Prescott

19 Fallen Firefighters Return To Prescott

The firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire have made it home. Nineteen white hearses caravaned from Phoenix to the crew's hometown in Prescott on Sunday.

As the 100 mile procession began in front of the Maricopa County Medical Examiner's office in downtown Phoenix, an honor guard lined the street. A cluster of firefighters dressed in kilts played bagpipes.

Jude Joffe-Block

A group watching the procession in downtown Phoenix hugs after the hearses pass.

People waited on city sidewalks for well over an hour to pay their respects to the passing caravan in spite of the triple-digit heat. 

Tammy Max of Mesa said she knew one of the late Granite Mountain Hotshots personally. 

Max said the impact of the crew's death is being felt well beyond Prescott.

"These guys didn't just fight fires in Arizona," Max said. "They fight fires all over the Southwest. They have touched many lives and many communities and I'm sure they are being honored more places than here."

Many of those who waited to see the caravan in Phoenix had no personal connection to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but wanted to honor their sacrifice.

"I'm just waiting to see the guys go by in the hearses and just pay respects to them, say a prayer," said Ruben Ramirez of South Phoenix.

One of the lead vehicles in the procession was the work truck that belonged to the crew's fallen superintendent, Eric Marsh. 

Ralph Lucas, Prescott's fire battalion chief, drove Marsh's truck.

"I've spent a ton of time with this crew," Lucas said. "So, it is surreal driving his vehicle and stuff like that. But it's just kinda like, it feels warm to me touching his stuff, like we are together."

Lucas said Marsh's equipment is still in the truck.

"You'll notice it's not washed at all, this is exactly how it was taken off of the fire," Lucas said.

The firefighters' bodies were brought to Phoenix for autopsies last week. A memorial service is scheduled in Prescott for Tuesday. 

Jude Joffe-Block was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2017.