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Memorial events planned June 30 to commemorate five-year mark of Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy

Remembering the Hotshots

Prescott firefighter Pat McCarty reads names of the fallen at a June 30, 2015, memorial service for the Granite Mountain Hotshots at Yavapai County courthouse plaza. Memorial events are planned June 30, 2018, to commemorate the five-year anniversary of their deaths. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Prescott firefighter Pat McCarty reads names of the fallen at a June 30, 2015, memorial service for the Granite Mountain Hotshots at Yavapai County courthouse plaza. Memorial events are planned June 30, 2018, to commemorate the five-year anniversary of their deaths. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

From downtown Prescott to the community of Yarnell to the Prescott Gateway Mall, the 19 men who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire five years ago will be remembered in various ways on Saturday, June 30.

As in the past four years, remembrance ceremonies are scheduled at the Yavapai County Courthouse and in Yarnell.

And this year, with the five-year mark approaching on Saturday, the day also will be commemorated at a new Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Learning and Tribute Center at the Prescott Gateway Mall.

The City of Prescott will mark the day with a remembrance ceremony on a stage at the intersection of Goodwin and Montezuma streets in downtown Prescott.

The remembrance will begin with the posting of the colors and Pledge of Allegiance at about 4:20 p.m. After brief remarks by Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light, the crew names will be read by Patrick McCarty, former Hotshot crew member and fire engineer with the Prescott Fire Department.

A memorial bell will then ring 19 times to honor each of the fallen at 4:42 p.m., to coincide with the time of the tragedy.

The ceremony will conclude with remarks by Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli, who said he plans to reflect on the “bravery, work ethic, and dedication” of the 19 fallen Hotshots.

“I also want to focus on how they answered the call to service,” Mengarelli said, adding that the Hotshots’ dedication can serve as a message to the community about responding to a call to serve.

A city news release stated that “All are welcome and encouraged to come out and take part in this continuation of our healing that’s transpired over the past five years.”

Prescott Community Outreach Manager John Heiney said the combination of the remembrance ceremony and the new Learning and Tribute Center would allow residents to reflect on the Hotshots in their own way.

“When you look at the Learning and Tribute Center and the Saturday remembrance, our goal is to appropriately recognize, honor, and remember the Hotshots,” Heiney said.

The Learning and Tribute Center will open to the public with a ribbon cutting at noon, Friday, June 29. The center will be open throughout the coming week – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is located near the Dillard’s store in the Gateway Mall, 3280 Gateway Boulevard.

“We’re very pleased with the progress the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Learning and Tribute Center Board has made in such a short time,” Heiney said of the development over the past year of the center in a space at the mall.

More information on the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Learning and Tribute Center is available on the organization’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/gmihc19/.

YARNELL CEREMONY

Also on Saturday, the community of Yarnell will conduct a ceremony that will feature a number of local officials, residents, and singers.

The remembrance event will take place beginning at 4 p.m., Saturday, June 30, at the Yarnell Community Presbyterian Church, 16455 Tabletop Way, Yarnell.

Pastor Peggey Heggemen will open the service with a prayer, which will be followed by music, readings, and reflections by residents and fire department representatives. Among the speakers will be Lew Theokas, the grandfather of fallen Hotshot Garret Zuppiger; Peeples Valley Fire District Chief Bob Brandon; Yarnell Fire District Chief Ben Palm; and local residents Peggy O’Brien, Jeanne Nelson, Tim Hovan, Keagan Anderson, and Denise Roggio.

A moment of silence will be observed at the time determined to be when the Hotshots died, and the names of the fallen 19 will then be read aloud.

“Residents and friends, family of the 19, and all those who wish to honor the memory of the Hotshots are invited to attend,” states a news release from the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group.

Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333, ext. 2034, or cbarks@prescottaz.com.