By David Zambrano
Six years have passed since the Yarnell Hill Fire claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. On Sunday, a memorial was held in Yarnell to honor of those who were lost and to preview a remembrance park.
To commemorate the Yarnell Hill Fire, the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group (YHRG) has been working on a memorial park for the past five years. On Sunday, June 30, the sixth anniversary, approximately 100 people gathered to see the progress of the park.
Frances Lechner of the YHRG said the park is a work in progress.
“The town has been coming together from the very beginning. It was a close community then and even more so now. And we’d love to get the park finished, but we need money. After the fire, the town of Yarnell received $2 million donated dollars, which was disbursed to help people rebuild their homes, to help with the infrastructure, the water company, the fire department and the school district.” Project manager for the park, Chuck Tidey said, “We need about $100,000 more to finish this park.”
The YHRG is continuing fundraising efforts and welcomed the ceremony to the park on Sunday to honor the firefighters and provide a preview of the park’s eventual design. An etched, stainless steel mosaic will be situated with boulders and a water feature, as well as seating areas and a place for performances.
Lew Theokas, the grandfather of Granite Mountain Hotshot Garret Zuppiger, was one of the speakers and is on the board for the park’s construction. He said the memorial honors everyone who risked their lives in the fire.
“People lost everything, all they held dear, and many of them moved away, never to return, so it changed their lives. We had hundreds of firefighters here fighting the fire. This park is in gratitude to them as well.”
Theokas was a volunteer firefighter who hoped to help fight the Yarnell Hill Fire. He said, “We want people to understand what this is about. It’s a memorial park for the fire, the people who lost their homes and the firefighters who came from all over the country.”