Utah’s Lone Peak Hotshots Pay Tribute To Fallen Firefighters At Yarnell 

Jul 10, 2019, 10:19 PM | Updated: 10:19 pm

DRAPER, Utah – A group of Utah firefighters were on their way home from the southern United States when they felt compelled to stop at the Yarnell Hill Fire, where 19 firefighters lost their lives in 2013.

Big clouds of smoke in the sky and the smell of burning brush are sure signs of summer. It also means Justin Roach and his team have to be ready.

“I know the big reason for me is the challenging aspect of the job,” said Roach.

Wildland firefighters can’t make vacation plans this time of year. Then again, for them, not even Disneyland provides the thrills they get on the job.

“You get that personal satisfaction and satisfaction as a crew at the end of a long day when you’ve accomplished a big task,” said Roach.

He’s a member of the Lone Peak Hotshots, one of Utah’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands wildfire crews.

The team returned home Wednesday after a 19-day assignment fighting wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico. 

“It’s always good to be back home,” said Shayne Ward, who is a lead firefighter on the Lone Peak Hotshot crew. “You miss the family and get a little homesick and it’s just nice coming home, chance to relax and really recoup for the next one.” 

That next one could be soon. The team only gets two days off.

“It is hard work. It’s really unforgiving and it’s not as glorious as they make it out to be,” said Ward.

Sometimes, the job can also be deadly.  

The team was reminded of that Tuesday in Arizona during their trip back home.

Even though the crew wanted to get home, they just had to stop in Yarnell and visit the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in 2013.

“When you’re in that area, it’s almost like a duty to go and pay your respects to those guys,” said Ward.

That site is now a memorial paying tribute to those firefighters.

“I didn’t think I was going to choke up as much as I did,” said Roach. “But the more you sit there and kind of look at the gravesites, the more it just all sinks in and the power of the area really gets to you.”

Ask any firefighter who has been there, and they’ll tell you it puts everything in perspective.

“We complain about long, hot shifts, but at the end of the day, we’re going home to our folks and our kids and those guys didn’t have that opportunity,” said Ward.

Firefighting is a strong brotherhood to begin with. Visiting a site like Yarnell only makes it stronger.

“I think it takes a real man to cry in front of other men, especially in a job like this,” said Roach. “I think we’re really lucky to be in an environment where we’re super supportive of each other and no one is going to look down on you upon that.”

It’s this kind of job where facing danger to keep people safe is considered normal, even if it costs them their lives.

“It’s a way to remember them and keep them in the limelight so they’re never forgotten,” said Ward.

Visiting the memorial is one of the few times the Lone Peak Hotshots weren’t in such a rush.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - Sydney Carney walks through her home, which was destroyed by a wildfire on Aug. 11, 2023, in...

Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Residents prepare to return to sites of homes demolished in Lahaina wildfire 7 weeks ago

Authorities on Monday are expected to begin allowing the first residents and property owners to return to their devastated properties in Lahaina.

2 days ago

Falco Kuester, a researcher at ALERTCalifornia, a program run by the University of California San D...

Kelvin Chan, AP Business Writer

The threat of wildfires is rising. So is new artificial intelligence solutions to fight them

With wildfires becoming larger and more intense as the world warms, firefighters, utilities and governments are trying to get ahead of the flames by tapping into the latest AI technology.

2 days ago

The hall of historic Waiola Church in Lahaina and nearby Lahaina Hongwanji Mission are engulfed in ...

Associated Press

Residents prepare to return to sites of homes demolished in Lahaina wildfire 7 weeks ago

From just outside the burn zone in Lahaina, Jes Claydon can see the ruins of the rental home where she lived for 13 years and raised three children. Little remains recognizable beyond the jars of sea glass that stood outside the front door.

2 days ago

Chopped down forestry in the Dixie National Forest....

Mike Anderson

National forest officials thin out thousands of acres to reduce wildfire danger

Park officials are working on thinning more than 140-thousand acres of national forests in Utah, all in order to protect against catastrophic wildfires.

7 days ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Eliza Pace

Lightning-caused fire threatens homes

A new fire authorities are calling the Evening Star Fire, is threatening four homes in the Victory Ranch Community in Wasatch County.

8 days ago

Lighthouse Fire has expanded by 400 acres in just 24 hours....

Cimaron Neugebauer

UPDATE: Wildfire grows by 400 acres in a day after fire embers from Lighthouse Canyon fire start another fire in Emery County

A new fire that ignited from the Lighthouse Fire in Emery County had created visible smoke in eastern Utah and western Colorado as of Wednesday night.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

rodeo contestant on a saddle bronc...


Get Ready for the Days of ‘47 Rodeo!

The Days of '47 Rodeo is a series of events everyone in the family can enjoy, with world-class rodeo contestants vying for the gold medal.

Electric LED Lightbulb Change In Light At Home...

Lighting Design

How to Know When to Upgrade Your Lighting

This guide explores indicators that suggest it’s time for a lighting upgrade with tips to make an informed decision when you’re ready to buy. 

Brunette guy in headphones playing games on his desktop computer...

PC Laptops

Looking For a New Computer? Use This Desktop Buying Guide

Choosing a new desktop computer can come with a lot of questions, so we created this desktop buying guide.

Utah’s Lone Peak Hotshots Pay Tribute To Fallen Firefighters At Yarnell