Bell ringing, bowed heads mark Hotshots remembrance - WFSB 3 Connecticut

One-Year Anniversary of Yarnell Hill Fire
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Bell ringing, bowed heads mark Hotshots remembrance

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A Yarnell Hill Fire memorial service was held Sunday at the site of the future Memorial Park. (Source: CBS 5 News) A Yarnell Hill Fire memorial service was held Sunday at the site of the future Memorial Park. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Monday's public memorial was held outside the Prescott Courthouse. (Source: CBS 5 News) Monday's public memorial was held outside the Prescott Courthouse. (Source: CBS 5 News)
The observance was a prelude to Monday's one-year-anniversary of the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. (Source: CBS 5 News) The observance was a prelude to Monday's one-year-anniversary of the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots. (Source: CBS 5 News)
The town paused to remember the sacrifices paid by the Hotshots. (Source: CBS 5 News) The town paused to remember the sacrifices paid by the Hotshots. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Sunday's observances also featured a special memorial concert. (Source: CBS 5 News) Sunday's observances also featured a special memorial concert. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

Emotions ran high as the public gathered Monday afternoon in Prescott to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died protecting their town.

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the day the 19 brave souls lost their lives battling a firestorm that raced toward them at 20 feet per second.

One of the more moving parts of the ceremony outside the historic Prescott Courthouse was the ringing of a bell 19 times, once for each fallen firefighter, at 4:42 p.m. local time.

"We want you to know that this community has continued to weather the storm," said Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light.

He said his fire department has been on a roller coaster of emotions since that tragic day one year ago.

"The family members will continue to experience June 30 as the most difficult day of their lives," Light said.

He added, "Let's work not to relive the pain and suffering but (focus on) our continued healing as a community."

Battalion Chief Don Devendorf said residents have gotten through the tragedy by leaning on and helping each other.

"The pain and shock and horror that consumed us one year ago has faded. It's not gone but it has faded," Devendorf said.

"As we move into the future, we must not forget we overcame together," he added.

A stirring bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace brought the ceremony to an emotional end.

On Sunday, Yarnell paused to remember the sacrifice of those Hotshots and took the opportunity to look ahead and embrace the community's future.

[SLIDESHOW: AZ memorials honor Granite Mountain Hot Shots]

The event was held at the site of the future Memorial Park at 22556 S. Highway 89, at the corner of Shrine Road and State Route 89.

Sunday's observance included a flag ceremony, music and brief statements by local leaders and elected officials. The special occasion also featured bagpipes, a traditional ceremonial element in the firefighting fraternity.

Hymns comforted the town as the community remembered its fallen.

Lew Theokas led the ceremony. His only grandson, Garret Zuppinger, was one of the men who died.

"Like his comrades, he was an outstanding young man," Theokas said. "Full of life, always looking for his next adventure and very loving."

Theokas remembers the last time he spoke with Zuppinger. He called to say he was in town fighting the fire and asked his grandmother to bake a batch of cookies.

"Then he said, 'a DC-10 just dropped a load of slurry and I missed it. I gotta go grandpa. Love you. Bye.' He always ended conversations with 'I love you.' Well we love you, too, Garret. We love all of you," Theokas said.

As a tribute to the 19, residents vowed to keep rebuilding - refusing to let the town fold.

A memorial concert Sunday afternoon featured the the debut of In Memoriam, written for the Hotshots by Michael Mazzatenta, an Arizona composer.

Also on Sunday, Prescott and Arizona firefighters, together with families of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, paid it forward to the community with an inaugural Spaghetti Western Community Street Event.

Donations collected at the event will benefit Prescott Fire Fighters Charities, which supports local organizations and Prescott families in need, and the 100 Club.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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