As the towns of Yarnell and Prescott try to heal from the loss of 19 of their finest firefighters, we are forced to think about the last moments of the lives of these young men.
It's awful to try to imagine what must have gone through their minds as they realized they weren't going to get out. And its been heartbreaking hearing from the families of the fallen, so many of them not much more than kids themselves, in their early 20s. And yet most of the hotshot team members had kids of their own or were expecting children.
So the donations to the 100 Club of Arizona and Red Cross are crucial. These are young families, most of whom were just starting out. But let's look at the bigger picture, too, and recognize that we live in an extreme climate that has experienced 20 years of drought.
In these mountain communities, a fire can grow and turn deadly fast. Those firefighters died trying to save property in Yarnell. It makes you wonder about the wisdom of putting people in harm's way when it seems stopping a fire like this is nearly impossible.
Whatever it takes, whether it's good programs for forest thinning or fighting these fires from the air alone when conditions are so bad... I don't know. It just seems senseless to sacrifice such young lives like the ones we lost.
On the upside, it's been gratifying to see the outpouring of support for the firefighters' families. It's a shame we have to see it, but from the Valley's sports franchises, to local businesses, to just the person you run into at your neighborhood restaurant, those firefighters are on everyone's minds.
My husband and son ate breakfast at a Waffle House Tuesday morning on Interstate 17 (it's their favorite place!) and all the servers were wearing "Yarnell 19" buttons. They were taking donations and people were giving.
Arizona has come together because of this tragedy.
Let's hope it lasts.
For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to yarnellfallenfirefighters.com.