Arizona's firefighters honor 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in 2013
Hundreds gathered on the lawns of the Yavapai County Courthouse on Friday afternoon to memorialize the legacies of the 19 elite Granite Mountain Hotshots who lost their lives in the violent, sudden firestorm that fell on them a decade ago.
Gov. Katie Hobbs thanked the firefighters.
"We owe so much to these 19 men and those who continue the work of protecting our communities from danger. Because of them, we can raise our families in security and happiness," she said.
"There is much that we’ve learned since that tragedy and we’re far better prepared for wildfire prevention and response than we were then," said Prescott Mayor Phil Goode.
Brendan McDonough, the sole surviving member of the firefighting ream, read a prayer at the ceremony in Prescott.
When the Yarnell Hill Fire started on June 28, 2013, dry lightning had struck a patch of vegetation in steep, mountainous terrain and ignited the fire high on a ridge west of Yarnell, which hadn't experienced a wildfire in more than 45 years.
Two days later, the Granite Mountain Hotshots were battling the wildfire in a box canyon when the winds suddenly shifted and the flames rapidly raced toward them. The 19 men tried to deploy emergency shelters: tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from the flames and heat.
The gusty, hot winds caused the fire to intensify to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and cut off the firefighters' escape route, killing the men, authorities said.
The fire has been the largest loss of life for U.S. firefighters since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Associated Press contributed to this report.