Fallen Arizona firefighters assisted in Davis Mountains wildfire last year
By JOHN DANIEL GARCIA
JEFF DAVIS COUNTY – Last April, a thunderstorm containing light rain blew through the Davis Mountains. Lightning strikes from the storm ignited small fires east of Mount Livermore at the McCoy Ranch just north of Ford Davis, as well as on the York Ranch in the Sawtooth Mountain region north of Valentine. Though the fires seemed relatively small and containable, as the air was still on that spring afternoon, it was also the one-year anniversary of the Rock House Fire, which spread quickly throughout the region, becoming one of the largest wildfires in Texas history with 300,000 acres burned when finally contained.
In two weeks, the fires near Mount Livermore in the Davis Mountains spread and joined, burning 24,117 acres while not destroying a single structure or injuring a single resident thanks to the efforts of local, state, and independent firefighters, including hotshot teams, elite forces of 20 firefighters specially trained to respond to fires in remote regions with limited resources.
Among those fighting the Livermore fire was Eric Marsh, 43, the superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, one of the 19 men who fell in the Yarnell Hills fire in Arizona on Sunday. Several other of the fallen were also part of the team that helped contain the fire, which threatened the Davis Mountain Resort.
“I met a few of the guys,” said DMR Volunteer Firefighter Paul Van Tine. “We saw them coming and going. It’s hard to stomach and understand what happened to them. It’s really personal to any firefighter because you know it can happen to anyone at anytime.”
“If you have not already done so please take a moment to silently remember and pray for the souls, families and friends of those who sacrificed their lives on Yarnell Hill,” Southern Red Team Firefighter Tony Wilder said in a written statement.
“Along with other type 1 crews assigned to the incident,” Wilder continued, “they worked an extra long shift to complete hand lines in a remote and rugged sector, The combined efforts of the type 1 crews completed the fire line and got the fire contained in much quicker fashion with much less risk to the Davis Mountain Resort residences than would have been possible if we would have been forced to stop the fire at the edge of the Resort.”
Granite Mountain Hotshots victims also include Anthony Rose, 23; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted , 28; Scott Norris, 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; Jesse Steed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; William Warneke, 25; and John Percin, 24; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; Chris MacKenzie, 30; and Andrew Ashcraft, 29.