Founding Partner of The Center, Daniel Boyce, lives in Prescott, Arizona, just miles from where the Yarnell Hill Fire that took the lives of 19 firefighters. The tragedy was the greatest loss of life for firefighters since Sept. 11, 2001 and hit very close to home for Dan and his wife Sue. He shares his thoughts:
The loss of 19 elite Arizona firefighters is a devastating blow for our small city, made all the more poignant for all of us since the same crew had been active in putting out a larger fire much closer to Prescott just a week or so earlier. That fire started just 4-5 miles due west from our house, and within 9 hours was over 5,000 acres in size. Had the wind been from another direction, we would have quickly been in the "line of fire"; as it was, we had our car packed with our most important stuff, our cats sequestered to be able to grab them quickly, and were ready to evacuate if the winds had shifted. But thanks to more than 600 firefighters battling for over a week on rugged terrain, in the end there were amazingly no structures burned or serious injuries.
The Yarnell Hill Fire, where the tragedy occurred June 30th, is about 15-20 miles south of us. We saw the air tankers loaded with fire-retardant slurry headed in that direction--run after run--little did we know what would ensue. Things around here have been tinder dry, and it has been unusually windy, making fire conditions extremely hazardous.
Sue and I sang in the choir at the memorial service for the 19 firefighters from Prescott. It was held at the largest arena in the area and still thousands who couldn't fit in sat outside to watch the service on jumbo screens. Though Sue and I don't know any of the fire victims personally, in a town of this size (~100,000) there is generally only one, or at most two, degrees of separation. It was an extraordinarily moving service and it reminded me once again how fortunate we all are, and how important it is to share our gratitude with those we care about. So I'm doing just that. Thank you for being an important part of my life.