19 hotshots sacrificed their lives on Yarnell Hill last June
Yarnell Hill Fire - June 2013
Slide Fire - May 2014
OAK CREEK, AZ (CBS5) -
The Blue Ridge Hotshots clear a line above the canyon rim and ahead of the Slide Fire along Route 89A, the battlefront against the blaze.
The Southwest Incident Management Team strategically placed crews ahead of the fire to save property and lives. Brienne Magee said the crews are keeping their distance from the fire edge.
"Fire safety has always been our number one priority, this year, it continues to be our number one priority," Magee said.
With the Slide Fire in front of them, hotshot crews still have last year's tragedy at Yarnell Hill on their minds. Nineteen firefighters with the Granite Mountain Hotshots died saving homes last June.
Blue Ridge Hotshot, True Brown was emotional and speechless when asked about the Granite Mountain Hotshots nearly one year after their sacrifices.
"I'm going to pass on that question," Brown said.
Brown and his crew are based just 32 miles away from the Slide Fire in Happy Jack, Ariz.
In the past, the Blue Ridge Hotshots worked alongside the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Since the tragedy, Granite Mountain Hotshot positions have been left vacant by the City of Prescott. City officials are still mulling over the possibility of re-filling those positions.
On the front lines of the wildfires today, officials said hotshot crews now have a heightened awareness of safety.
"We're making sure that every single person understands what's at risk, what could happen and have a plan in place," Magee said. "We make sure every boy and girl goes home safely."
Safety measures at the Slide Fire include a large gap between the active wildfire and burnout areas actively worked by hotshot crews. Also, lookouts are carefully monitoring fire and weather conditions and notifying command of any changes or potential changes on the ground.
For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.
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