State park honoring Granite Mountain Hotshots to open Wednesday

Posted at 3:45 PM, Nov 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-29 17:45:02-05

"Andrew would be rolling his eyes, at the same time smiling,” said Deborah Pfingston, mother of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft.

"It's just kind of unbelievable still. It's sad, but it's neat that they're remembering them this way. It's pretty awesome,” said Janae Harezma, whose nephew, Wade Parker, also died in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The seven-mile round trip hike to the memorial site isn’t easy — a nod to the physical condition the hotshots had to be in for the dangers they faced.

"This is an incredible trail. It's one that was built for someone who loves firefighters. It's strenuous. It will take a commitment to hike the entire trail, but I think it's something that is an incredible honor to these men,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.

Along the trail, visitors will find plaques get to know the names, the faces and stories of each of the 19 who lost their lives to the wildfire.

"That's what I love about the trail. It talks about the ecology, it talks about what's going on, and then you get to know the guys intimately — and that's important,” Pfingston said.

“The most powerful part of it was when they installed the plaques all on the trail, the 19 tracks. We saw it last weekend, and that was the first time where everything really came together about what this park means,” said Mark Loseth, the project manager for the trail’s construction.

"None of us could've imagined that a bolt of lightning would ignite the deadliest wildfire in state history, but we all knew who would respond if it ever happened,” Gov. Ducey said.