Yarnell Hill Fire: Blazing Honor

Yarnell Hill Fire, Yarnell, AZ

On June 30, 2013, my husband, Lou, and I were sitting on our porch and watching the Yarnell Hill wildfire ravish the mountainside across from us. We observed the planes dropping slurry to quench the flames, as well as the many firefighters and personnel scurrying to and fro to protect our beautiful community. The fire appeared to be moving away from us, when suddenly the wind shifted, and we were forced to evacuate at 4:30pm, with little time to prepare.

The striking events that took place will forever be etched in our minds: at the very moment we were being led to safety, the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, AZ, Station #7, was being trapped by the engulfing flames….We were safe, but 19 courageous men died in that fire at 4:31pm, leaving a single survivor whose heart is irreparably broken.

There are no words to express our heartfelt gratitude to all of those who waged war against this lightning-caused fire; there are no words to express our sympathy to the families, co-workers and friends of the 19 Hotshots; likewise, there are no words that adequately convey how thankful we are.  So, when words fail, a song of tribute will last forever.

Thank you, Firefighters.  Thank you Granite Mountain Hotshots. The Community of Yarnell is ever grateful.

Blazing Honor by Denise Roggio

Words & Music by Denise Roggio and Louis F. Roggio
Mixing & Recording: Louis F. Roggio
© 2013 by Denise Roggio and Louis F. Roggio – Worldwide rights reserved.

Play slideshow with audio:

Blazing Honor (lyrics)

In Arizona near Nowhere
The desert breeze greets the mountain air.
There’s a town, little known by name.
A lightning bolt from cloud to ground
Turned this village upside down
Yarnell would be forever changed.
Duty called, responders came.
A Hotshot crew and tanker planes
We all watched as ashes filled the sky.
Mother Nature knows no bounds
Flames encompassed all around
For some of them this was the journey’s end.

Hands of Mercy, Hearts of Courage
You have saved us from the flames
Blazing Honor, rest in peace now
Thank you for the sacrifice you gave.

A Hotshot crew of 20 men
19 gone and one remains
His heart broken, filled with pain
He worked with them side by side
Every day they risked their lives
Now his brothers are all gone

It must be hard to be just one
It’s clear your journey isn’t done
You must have some work here left here to do
As we bow our heads each night
We’ll pray that heaven shines its light
To help you through this dark and smoky haze

Heart of courage, how we thank you
For the blessings that you gave
Blazing honor, may God keep you
And happy memories comfort you today.

Hands of Mercy, Hearts of Courage
You have saved us from the flames
Blazing Honor, rest in peace now
Thank you for the sacrifice you gave.

Yarnell Fire house burning





Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Yarnell Hill Fire: Blazing Honor

  1. Chuck Simonette says:

    Denise and Lou, can’t tell you how much your video touched my heart even now some two years later. It is a fitting tribute to the 19 fallen fighters. I can only say it was “awesome”

    Chuck Simonette

  2. Mike Mitchell says:

    Thank you for a wonderful tribute to the 19+1! Though I never knew any of them, they are my brothers. They will always be remembered.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Mike. So many of us in Yarnell relive the day when we realized what happened to those brave men. We were all being evacuated within minutes of the 19 becoming trapped. Can’t help but think about the sounds, sights, smells – even the eeriness of the sky. I take it that you are a firefighter? THANK YOU, Mike. You protect and defend in ways we cannot imagine. Fire is such a formidable entity. I never realized exactly how formidable. But we appreciate you, and pray you stay safe. Thanks for the comment!

      • Mike Mitchell says:

        I worked for the USFS and the Idaho Dept of Forestry while in college, and fought several wildfires on Army posts, while in the military. I have fought quite a few wildfires in several states. Though not on a hotshot crew, I worked with them and they were the elite in wildfire fighting even in the ’70s. Fire is both beautiful and terrible at the same time. I’ve seen an entire mountainside consumed in a few minutes, with trees literally exploding less than 100m away (right where we’d been sleeping an hour before). So while I haven’t fought fires for a while, I understand completely what they went through. My mentor in wildfire fighting at the Ashley Nat Forest in Utah was killed 2 years after I worked there, in a small fire that suddenly blew up and doubled in size in seconds. He, like these 19, did everything “right,” it just wasn’t enough. I won’t try to second guess why they moved from a “safe” area, as we’ll never know. It presumably seemed like a good idea at the time or they wouldn’t have done it. I do know that God is taking care of them now, as he does with all firefighters who have made the ultimate sacrifice for others.

  3. Leah says:

    Such a beautiful song; so well written and filled with emotion and compassion from someone who was actually there in the midst of all the fury. My comment comes very late in the healing process; I’ve listened to it so many, many times and even now as I write this my eyes are filled with tears. Yarnell will never forget the 19+1. We, as a community, are moving forward and rebuilding. We are a strong, resilient community and blessed to have both Denise and Lou with us in this effort. Thank you!

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Thank you, Leah. Your comment means so much to me and Lou; we’re glad the song touches so many hearts, and helps folks through the grieving process.

  4. Pingback: Ash ‘n Blues - Denise Roggio

  5. Judy Daggett says:

    A song from the heart for sure. It brought a tear to my eye. My heart will always feel the loss of those brave young men…. all 20 are brave and true. Many years ago my family lived in Yarnell. My grandparents were well known at that time…. Sam and Rhoda Poteet. I was only about a year old when my family moved to Prescott…. but I have a soft spot for Yarnell. May God allow the flowers to grow extra beautiful were those young men perished.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Judy, those flowers of which you speak ARE growing! I know some olde-timers around here, and I am going to mention your grandparents. I’ll bet friends of ours remember them. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. This was a devastating loss, and these brave men will never be forgotten.
      God Bless you.

  6. Ms. Leeza Spiegl says:

    That was wonderful!

  7. Nirmal Manerikar says:

    What an extraordinary tribute to the Hotshot heroes! Although the language of the heart has no words, you’ve expressed so beautifully the deep sorrow as well as the enormous gratitude and pride we feel for them and their families. The lyrics of your tribute as well as the accompanying music and slide-show are deeply heartrending and yet immensely uplifting. May it help the heartbroken families and the community to heal. Thank you for your wonderful work. My fervent prayers for the families of the 19 and for Brendan McDonough.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Nirmal. I am so touched by your comment. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. The healing process is a long, hard road, so all the prayers are appreciated. I hope you share the link to the song page with all those on your contact list. We have a link on the page to the Yarnell Hill Fire Recovery page, which is accepting donations for all those who lost their homes in this fire, and many are destitute and in need. The donations are free of administrative costs, unlike many of the corporations, so we are trying to get this information out to everyone! Many people are leery of donating money to corporations, because they are so unsure of where the money is actually being spent. We personally know the people in the Yarnell Recovery Group, and these donations are being given directly to those who need it. Thank you again for your wonderful comment, your prayers and support for the firefighters and our community. God’s Blessings to you!

      • Nirmal Manerikar says:

        Hi Denise, Thank you for the information on the Yarnell Recovery Group and your personal endorsement of their efforts to help the needy. I used the link on your page a short while ago to access their website to make a donation. I will share the link to the song page as well. I agree fully with you that the recovery process after such a horrific event is long and arduous. Despite the tragedy, I know that the spirit of the community is strong and resilient (“Yarnell Rising”)! I pray that each passing day continues to bring some measure of relief to the homeless and uplift the spirits of those trying to come to terms with this terrible loss. God Bless you!

  8. Randy Dunbar says:

    I shared your moving tribute to the Granite Mtn Hotshots. It will surely aid the effort to “never forget” what happened on the Yarnell Hill Fire. I live with fire tragedy every day. The loss of 19 of the 20 people on this crew hits very hard. My son, Doug, was one of the Prineville Hotshots (Oregon) who died in the South Canyon Fire (Storm King) in CO in 1994. My heart truly goes out to family, friends, co-workers, and communities involved in this latest fire tragedy.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Dear Randy, Our hearts truly go out to you, as well. You know EXACTLY how devastating a loss this is for the families of those men. I am so very grateful that you shared this comment with us, and it is so kind of you to share the song with others, especially knowing how difficult it is for you to “relive” your own memories. Doug was a brave and courageous young man, and we are grateful to him as well. I don’t know about you, but something has been bothering my husband and me….we ride around town and there are signs in Prescott, AZ that say “We Salute Our Fallen Heroes”. I resent the word “fallen” a bit….HEROES is perfect without the adjective. So we salute Doug as a hero too, and thanks so much for your post!

  9. Michael Haskins says:

    I just woke up after a lousy night of sleep. I woke up grumpy and tired. This song is the first thing I listened to this morning. My fiancee and I are both off today. We discussed going to Yarnell today but I was already thinking of reasons to stay home today. This song has given me the motivation to get up and get moving. The entire state of Arizona is still in shock because of this loss. Thank you so much for your moving tribute. My heart and prayers go out to all affected.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Michael! Thank you for contacting me. I woke up grumpy and tired yesterday, so I know the feeling. I hope you do get to visit this town today. It’s a beautiful, sunny day for it. Glad you liked what you heard, and that it helped motivate you. Appreciate the comment!

  10. Tom & Judy Fisher says:

    We have loved Yarnell from our very first visit about 6 years ago. Our thoughts & prayers go out to everyone & the Hot Shots. A beautiful song. God Bless Everyone.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Tom & Judy. This is the most wonderful community on the planet. I have lived in several, and there is no comparison, so I share your sentiment about Yarnell. Thanks for the prayers, so many people need them. Good to hear from you!!

  11. Cindi Berry says:

    Oh Denise, this is such a beautiful tribute to those amazing men! Thank you so much for giving them the honor that they so richly deserve! I am sure their families & loved ones will treasure this song! God bless you!

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Cindi. We ran into a firefighter from Station 7 where the Hotshot Crew was based in Prescott, AZ. We thanked him sincerely, and told him how very sorry we are for the devastating loss. Lou gave him a copy of the CD, and he was very touched. He indicated that he would give it to the administrator to distribute appropriately. My prayer is these men will all know that our community is grateful and will never forget the sacrifices. Thanks so much for listening and posting a comment! Love to you, Ed and the family!

  12. Kenny Wayne says:

    Denise & Lou~ Thank You! All other words cannot express my thoughts any deeper than yours…

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Kenny! Thanks for posting…We are hope all is well with you. I’m glad you liked the song. Now for rebuilding the town, the economy, etc…Your pottery store may do very well since the whole world wants to come see the memorial. The streets have been busy! Thanks so much for posting.

      • Kenny Wayne says:

        Thanks for the “plug” on Two Dogs Pottery but the shop belongs to the lovely Nancy Myers. I have had a part in helping her to get it started with some of my pottery and sculpture about 20 years ago but its longevity is due to her diligence and very hard work. It seems that Two Dogs Pottery and Trading is another of Yarnell’s secret treasures and it behooves all to explore her little shop of beauty!

  13. Brent says:

    Very nice!

    • Denise Roggio says:

      And you are very nice, Brent. Appreciate the comment, and was so glad you came to the diner Friday night to help celebrate the “Yarnell Reborn” party…Do it again!!!

  14. Ty Lamb says:

    Thank you so much for your tribute. It is beautiful and heart felt. I am especially thankful that you mentioned there were 20 Hotshots not 19. Brandon is a living casualty with the hardest role set before him. Let us pray he find great purpose in and with his life as the Lord leads.
    As for the community of Yarnell, may the Lord bless you with beauty in place of the ashes. Please visit us on Facebook- “Rebuilding Yarnell- Beauty for Ashes.” This is a community bulletin board to help connect volunteers, donations and the rebuilding efforts for the residents of Yarnell.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Ty…I have been paying close attention to the Rebuilding Yarnell – Beauty for Ashes facebook page. What a wonderful community we have! I have only lived here since September, but I can tell you these people, my neighbors, treated me like I lived here forever. Its a town that draws you to it, and I am so happy for the rebuilding that’s taking place. God is good, all the time! He will draw many closer to Him through this. Thanks so very much for your post, and for listening to the song. We will never forget the sacrifice.

  15. Doran says:

    Beautiful tribute Lou and Denise to the community of Yarnell and the young men that sacrificed their lives.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Doran! Thanks so much for your kind words. We are so happy that the community is getting together, has grieved with one another, and now is in REBUILING mode…getting it all done. There are many of volunteers around everyday, and so much aid is being given to those who lost everything in this fire. Many in the community have told me that it helped them to cry when they needed it the most, which meant so much to us.

  16. Paula Loper says:

    Thank you for sharing. It is very beautiful. My prayers are with all!

  17. Mary Westwood says:

    Very nice thank you.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Mary, thanks for listening, visiting my site and for commenting. Songs last forever and touching hearts is the goal. I can’t sing it without crying.

  18. Linda Brown says:

    Denise, That is beautiful and I agree with Tim, it should come with a “Tissue Alert”.
    I tried to post it on FB and it is telling me it is not available. Maybe I’m doing something wrong, but I am trying. Very blessed to know that you two are protected and that you had a home to return to. What a heartbreak for the families of the Hotshots. I pray God meets them right where they are and blesses them with what they need to heal.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      I NEED THE TISSUES TOO! Linda, I thank you for listening and commenting. We are very grateful for our home; however we are so grieved for others. The total count of buildings destroyed is 129, and roughly 110 of those were homes. We have several friends who lost everything in the fire. But, thanks to the protection of God, not one citizen was injured. All are safe, but all are not well. It’s very sad to see what they’re dealing with: insurance companies, inventories of possessions, lost records, even lost baby pictures. So pray for them, and I know you will!

  19. Tim Brownlaw says:

    We often take so much for granted and it’s unfortunate that we only truly appreciate our FireFighters when tradegy strikes. These Brave 20 put their lives on the line and my thoughts and prayers go out to them and their families and the whole firefighting community.

    Denise and Lou, your amazing tribute song has really brought this home and helps us to remember just what great work our Firefighters do across the world and the dangers they willingly face to protect us.

    And you could have at least put in a “Tissue Alert” before listening to your amazing tribute.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Thanks so much, Tim, and thank you for sharing the song in Facebook! We join you in remembering what these brave mean do for us. They literally lost lives saving our town, which is and immense concept to grasp. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday, and all the lives lost….so many firefighters gone. I thought it was so tragic, and grieved with the rest. But when this happened here, and those men died so close to our home, and very shortly after we were evacuated, I appreciated so much more what all of these men and women do for us. This is the first wildfire I have ever experienced. Coming from New Jersey, I have experienced hurricanes, tropical storms, etc….but never a wildfire. It was amazing how quickly the wind changed it all around. Very sad, and we are grateful!

  20. kim roggio says:

    Great job guys. Glad you are safe. I’m sure those fire fighters are in heaven smiling down on such and awesome tribute. (with tears in their eyes)

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Kim! Hope all is well with you. Thanks for listening and commenting. Please share on facebook too!

  21. Connie says:

    There are no words to describe this heartfelt song.
    Thank you

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Connie….that is a high compliment. I am a musician of many years, as you know. This was the first song I’ve written from lyrics to music, soup to nuts….and Lou helped significantly with the title line. But it seemed to flow out of nowhere, because it was placed in my heart. Thank you so much.

  22. melissa harris says:

    That song moved me my husben grow up there in peeples valley

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Melissa! Thanks for commenting. You know the ironic thing is, the fire was heading straight for Peeples Valley all day on June 30th. In fact, they were evacuated long before Yarnell residents. Odd how the wind took this fire everywhere, just like a tornado.

  23. Donna says:

    Great song!

  24. Jackie Ostema says:

    Touching and sweet song, Denise. And you were there. Well done! Thanks for sharing.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Jackie! Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad it touched your heart. So good to see you and Glen last week. We attended the Legion Post 78 fundraiser. We were there pretty early, so I’m sorry if we missed you. Thanks for inviting us!

  25. Peter Page says:

    A beautiful song for the beautiful people who risk their lives everyday for our safety. Very well done, Denise and Lou. Thank you.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Peter, like most people, I don’t think I ever really understood how dangerous the job of firefighters, rescue personnel, and military personnel truly is until this happened so CLOSE to home. We all feel a tragic event, but when it is close like that, it’s a different emotion. Instead of “sympathy” it becomes “empathy”. That’s where the song came from. We appreciate your comment, thank you!

  26. Jose says:

    Very touching and true.
    Thank you very much

  27. Penny says:

    A precious and moving tribute! Thank you! I saw a link on facebook. Hope it was OK to repost it–I think it will help with healing in our communities and around the world!

  28. mick blythe says:

    A great tribute , hope to hear it put to music

  29. Priscilla Perkins says:

    Denise and Lou. What a beautiful tribute to these courageous men. A group of friends were able to visit the Community of Yarnell (some for the 1st time) while visiting our friend Trish Edwards about a month or so before the fire, with the opportunity to meet some very friendly and hospitable people. Our hearts go out to all of the Community. Know our prayers are with you.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Priscilla. I have lived in Yarnell since September, and I could not agree with you more. This community is absolutely amazing. After all that happened with this wildfire, we are amazed at how the people of Yarnell have pulled together to help each other. Its been a beautiful thing to see. Thank you for your kind words. I hope it touches many hearts, because it came from ours. Please share the link!

  30. Cindi Jenson says:

    A friend told me about your moving song. I was moved to tears – again. Thank You. (CJ from Wickenburg)

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Cindi…I have sang this song twice in public thus far. It’s so hard to sing with tears in your eyes and a lump in your throat. So many tears have been shed across the area in recent days, so I understand what you mean. I appreciate your comment, thank you!

  31. Janett says:

    Beautiful and touching!

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Janett, and thanks so much. Please share the link with others. Facebook, email, Pinterest, Twitter, all fine with us!

  32. Dina Murray says:

    A beautiful tribute – thank you for sharing. So sorry for the losses there. So thankful you guys are safe. May the Lord bless you all.

    • Denise Roggio says:

      Hi, Dina! Miss you and thank you for commenting. Its been hard with the homes and firefighters lost; but everyone was safe, praise the Lord!
      Share the link to the song page on facebook? Thanks!

  33. Victor Kidd says:

    Good Job Denise and Lou! So glad you guys are safe! :-)

Send us your comment...

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.