Firefighters from L.A. County Fire Dept. stations in La Cañada Flintridge were among those from the Southland attending a memorial service Tuesday in Prescott, Ariz. to honor 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died June 30 battling a wind-driven wildfire.
They were among roughly 300 L.A. County firefighters in Prescott for the service, including members from both stations in La Cañada Flintridge, where city officials last week recognized the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew for assisting with the massive Station fire in 2009.
"We're a giant firefighting family, whether we're in the same area or another part of the county," said Mark Savage, Los Angeles County battalion chief for Station 82 on Foothill Boulevard at Hampton Road. He was the lead information officer during the massive blaze that tore through the Angeles National Forest.
"It's a tragic loss and there is a large group from our department going," he said.
Thousands attended the emotional memorial, which featured speeches from Vice President Joe Biden and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.
A single white rose rested in front of a photograph of each of the 19 firefighters — their helmets, scuffed boots, wildland turnouts and axes neatly assembled in front of the stage.
At the memorial, family members were each given an American flag and a Pulaski Axe, a critical tool used in wildland firefighting.
Prescott Fire Department Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis expressed sympathy for the stricken families, saying the members of the elite firefighting crew "gave their lives, so others could live."
"They brought everything to the table," he said. "They gave it their all."
Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo added that the Yarnell Hill fire incident "is still raw" and the feeling would likely not subside for a while.
"You will be missed, but never ever be forgotten," he said.
Five members of the Burbank Fire Department also attended the Prescott memorial, said fire Capt. Peter Hendrickson.
All five of them have camp crew experience, he added.
"They've all been there, done the same thing," Hendrickson said. "Firemen across the nation, we're all brothers — if one gets hurt or killed, it hurts us all."
From Glendale Fire, nine members — including firefighters, ambulance operators and Deputy Chief Robert Doyle — also attended, according to Battalion Chief Tom Propst.
Savage said many firefighters attended the memorial to support Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Joe Woyjeck, whose son, Kevin Woyjeck, perished in the Arizona fire.
"Our main goal is to not only support the member of our department who has lost his son, but support all the families and friends who have lost loved ones," he added.
Staff writer Alene Tchekmedyian contributed reporting.