PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- People are flocking to Prescott Fire Station No. 7, the home station of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, to pay their respects to 19 fallen heroes.
Flags, flowers, and balloons flutter in the breeze, small tokens for 19 firefighters who tragically lost their lives while battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday night. One person even left 19 bottles of water. Another left The Firefighter's Prayer.
Just about everyone who has stopped by this station has left in tears, 3TV's Natalie Brand said during a live report on Good Morning Arizona.
Community members say they are numb, stunned by what has happened.
The Yarnell Hill Fire started with a lightning strike Friday afternoon. Sunday morning, it was relatively small -- about 200 acres. High winds whipped up the flames late Sunday afternoon, causing the fire to grow to 2,000 acres and destroy 250 homes. Carrie Templin of the Yarnell Fire Department said the fire had grown to an estimated 8,300 ares -- about 13 square miles -- by Monday morning. Containment was still at zero.
The Yarnell Hill Fire is the deadliest fire in Arizona history and largest firefighter loss since 9/11.
The firefighters were caught when the fire suddenly changed direction and trapped them as they tried to deploy their emergency fire shelters. It's still not clear exactly what happened out there.
This is as dark a day as I can remember, with Arizona suffering the truly unimaginable loss of 19 wildland firefighters, Gov. Jan Brewer in a statement. When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen, and prayers for the families and friends left behind. God bless them all.
This devastating loss is a reminder of the grave risks our firefighters take every day on our behalf in Arizona and in communities across this nation, Arizona Sen. John McCain said. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
President Barack Obama paid his respects in a statement Monday morning. They were heroes -- highly-skilled professionals who, like so many across our country do every day, selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the lives and property of fellow citizens they would never meet, he said.
Just a week ago, the Granite Mountain Hotshots received accolades for their work on the Doce Fire.
A memorial service will take place Monday at 4 p.m. at the Activity Center, Building 83 on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. The service is open to the public.
The Firefighter's Prayer
When I am called to duty, God, whenever flames may rage;
Give me strength to save some life, whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child before it is too late
Or save an older person from the horror of that fate.
Enable me to be alert and hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.
I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
To guard my every neighbor and protect his property.
And if, according to my fate, I am to lose my life;
Please bless with your protecting hand
my children and my wife.