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Firefighter Sean Misner Returns to Santa Ynez, Accompanied by ‘Brothers in Arms’ and Silent Tributes

Motorcade carrying Granite Mountain Hotshots crew member's ashes flanked by fire vehicles in final journey home from Arizona

Santa Barbara County, U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department trucks travel on Highway 101 just after crossing the Santa Barbara County line near Carpinteria on Saturday afternoon as they escort Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighter Sean Misner’s remains and family back home to Santa Ynez.
Santa Barbara County, U.S. Forest Service and Los Angeles County Fire Department trucks travel on Highway 101 just after crossing the Santa Barbara County line near Carpinteria on Saturday afternoon as they escort Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighter Sean Misner’s remains and family back home to Santa Ynez.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

By Lara Cooper, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @laraanncooper |

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery.]

As the miles passed on the drive to Santa Barbara County from Prescott, Ariz., the remains of Sean Misner were greeted at every turn.

The vehicles carrying the ashes of the 26-year-old firefighter who was killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona — as well as his parents, Tammy and Ron, and Misner’s wife, Amanda — were flanked by fire trucks and law enforcement as they drove up Highway 101 to Santa Ynez, where Misner went to high school and where his family still lives.

Misner was a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting team employed at the Prescott Fire Department. He and 18 fellow firefighters with the 20-member unit perished June 30 when they were overtaken by the deadly and unpredictable wildfire in the mountains about 90 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Traveling through multiple counties and cities across Southern California, firefighters from those communities lined up to greet the family driving their way, saluting Misner’s sacrifice.

The Misners’ motorcade passed under each overpass, and the appreciation was wordless, but it was there, and it was strong.

Welcome home, brother, they all seemed to say. Thank you.

The Montecito Fire Protection District, a fire department hit particularly hard by Misner’s death, lined up on the San Ysidro Road overpass around 5 p.m. to greet the family.

Misner was the nephew of Montecito Fire Division Chief Terry McElwee, and grandson of the late Montecito Fire Chief Herb McElwee.

“We wanted to honor his return back into the county,” said Geri Ventura, the department’s spokeswoman who had just returned to her office from the procession.

“It was emotional,” she said. “He is a member of our family.”

Misner’s family left Prescott on Saturday morning, and a Montecito firefighter was with them the whole time, and was still with them on the way to their Santa Ynez home, Ventura said.

The family attended the public memorial held Tuesday in Prescott Valley, Ariz. The service brought out more than 30,000 people, including firefighters from around the world, to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots members.

The road back to Santa Barbara County was no different.

“They were honored the entire way home,” Ventura said.

Ventura was returning to Santa Barbara County on Highway 101 about two hours before the procession and saw several jurisdictions setting up equipment on overpasses to honor Misner.

“I just lost it when I saw that,” she said.

Ventura has been helping with the arrangements for Misner’s local memorial, which will be held at Santa Ynez Valley High School on Monday evening. She said donations to help with the event have been plentiful, with local hotels even donating rooms for the family and for firefighters from Prescott.

“It’s been a united effort to make this happen in a way that honors him,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 07.14.13 @ 06:22 AM

C’mon now. The Montecito fire department created a rather large safety hazard stopping and redirecting traffic on the the San Ysidro overpass to salute a dead body driving on freeway below. I am sympathetic to the boy in Arizona but that display was over the top and ill conceived. Another waste of dollars and somewhat tone deaf self gratification.

» on 07.14.13 @ 09:59 AM

I agree 100% with ‘Buff”!
How much did the entire show cost us taxpayers, especially the expenses of our local dignitaries and their junket to Arizona?
Or did they pay out of their own pockets?
I would be much surprised…....

» on 07.14.13 @ 12:02 PM

I was driving home on the 101 about the same time and noticed the fire trucks and firefighters lined up on two overpasses in Camarillo/Ventura area and guessed it might be a tribute to Sean Misner. As I got closer to home in Santa Ynez, I passed by other fire trucks going east on the 154 just before 6 pm. I bowed my head to them out of the utmost respect. They certainly rally around their brethren. As should we all. So sad for the Misner family and all others who perished in that terrible disaster. Vaya con Dios!

» on 07.14.13 @ 02:06 PM

As one of the people who went, I can assure it didn’t cost you anything Buff and buddy. As far Firefighters standing on bridges honoring Sean Misner, well that didn’t cost you anything either. And as Buff says, it’s just a body. I never take either praise or criticism too seriously, it all comes and goes. But honoring Sean Misner and those other 18 guys is worth considering. Because what they did, I mean them alone, cost them and their families plenty.

» on 07.15.13 @ 07:30 AM


Two points. One I was on my bicycle and was nealy hit by a fireman in a pick up doing a three point u turn in traffic on Jameson Lane. Saw ant nuumber of near accidents due to the entire inventory or fire equipment and personel trying to make a busy traffic afternoon conform to their desires.

Two the entire department is funded by the public and the costs were born by the public for the display. At the very least the vehicles have a cost per hour to run even if every firman was off duty. Spare me the sanctimony of the job and it’s dangers please.

» on 07.15.13 @ 08:16 AM


It is best not to engage folks like you and I kick myself everytime I do. The factual errors in your writing are too numerous to count. But why bother correcting them? Your narrative is what it is and nothing will change it.

» on 07.20.13 @ 10:05 PM

Wow. Some fire haters here. Jealous maybe?  Guess what guys this didn’t really cost you much of anything so chill out.

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