PHOENIX (AP) — A life-sized statue was unveiled Saturday honoring 19 members of a firefighting team known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in a 2013 Arizona wildfire.
The statue was dedicated at a state memorial park established where all but one member of the team died in a canyon in mountains near Yarnell on June 30, 2013.
Matt Glenn of Provo, Utah-based Big Statues said the “Returning the Favor” television show hosted by Mike Rowe commissioned his team to make the bronze sculpture for the Wildland Firefighter Guardian Institute.
The institute, founded by survivors of two of the Hotshots, will formally turn over the 6-foot, 2-inch statue to the state during a May ceremony at the park located 66 miles (106 kilometers) northwest of Phoenix.
“They’re calling this a ‘soft unveil’,” Glass said of the Saturday event.
The statue is located at the parking area where visitors can take a 3.5-mile trail to the site where the firefighters were trapped in a brush-choked canyon after shifting winds changed the direction of a lightning-sparked fire that burned 127 homes in Yarnell and two nearby communities.
The sole survivor of the team was a member stationed elsewhere as a lookout.
The statue is mounted on a pedestal with the names of the 19 firefighters and depicts a firefighter with a chain saw and other gear as he sizes up a wildfire, Glenn said during a telephone interview.
The design includes facial features of multiple fallen members of the Hotshots, Glenn said, explaining “I didn’t feel like it was proper to just represent one of the 19.”