By John Dougherty
|Illustration Kyle T. Webster
“We are going to hallowed ground,” says Jim Paxon, spokesman for the Arizona Forestry Division, moments before leading reporters and TV crews to the site where 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed in a June 30 wildfire.
“They are almost superhuman,” Paxon drawls to reporters gathered on the morning of July 23. “As we go up there, there’s a Granite Mountain Hotshots shirt on a cactus. We would ask that you touch the shirt … in reverence to the loss.”
Paxon chokes up and begins describing a fissure in a granite boulder forming a cross that flanks the site where the men were incinerated by a mammoth, manzanita-fueled blowtorch. Among wildland firefighters, the oily plant is well known for its explosive characteristics. The fire was so hot that it caused some of the granite boulders to crack. [Read more…]