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Memorial Service for Fallen Arizona Firefighters a ‘Gut-Wrenching’ Experience

Santa Barbara County fire and law enforcement personnel travel to pay their respects to the 19 crew members

Firefighters and law enforcement officials from throughout Santa Barbara County were among a huge crowd Tuesday at the memorial service for the 19 firefighters killed while battling a wildfire in Arizona last month.

“It was gut-wrenchingly sad, deeply moving and consistently respectful of all firefighters,” Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley said after the services in Prescott, Ariz. “It was an honor to be there, but a painful reminder of how vulnerable our public safety heroes really are.”

Hundreds of firefighters, family members and dignitaries — including Vice President Joe Biden — filled the arena, and many more watched the two-hour services on giant screens outside.

They were there to pay their respects to the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew who were killed in the line of duty on June 30 while battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill Wildfire.

Local firefighters and law enforcement were well represented at the event, including members of the Santa Barbara city and county and Montecito fire departments.

One of the firefighters killed was 26-year-old Sean Misner of Santa Ynez, in whose honor a local memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. next Monday at Santa Ynez High School.

The most memorable parts of the service were the multiple standing ovations for Brenden McDonough, the only surviving member of Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, according to Dudley.

“Everyone wanted him to know that he had our love and support,” she said.

Bagpipes and drums from around the country played “Amazing Grace,” Dudley said, and McDonough recited the hot shot’s prayer — ending it by saying, “I miss my brothers.”

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton 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.

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