19 firefighters


Outside of Yarnell, Arizona, in the scenic Bradshaw Mountains, is the Shrine of St. Joseph. These eerie and haunting statues occupy nooks and crannies in the granite boulders, under a canopy of juniper and oak trees. Carved in the 1940s by folk artist Felix Lucero, the shrine features scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, including the crucifixion, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the empty tomb. 

The area around the shrine was destroyed by a wildfire in 2013, the same fire that killed 19 firefighters. This was the deadliest event for American firefighters since 9/11. 

The statues were undamaged. 


Wildfires in Arizona, California, Utah force hundreds from their homes

A wildfire burning Wednesday through a dense Arizona forest has forced hundreds of people from their homes, closed a major road and created a huge plume of smoke over the same area devastated by a blaze that killed 19 firefighters four years ago.

The fire near the small city of Prescott, fanned by 35 mph (56 kph) winds, has charred more than 28 square miles (73 square kilometers. More than 500 firefighters were battling the blaze.

Elsewhere across the western U.S., Utah firefighters braced Wednesday for more high winds as they try to slow a stubborn wildfire that has burned 13 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 people from a ski resort town.

And in California, a wildfire destroyed the home of “Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki on a ranch in the San Luis Obsipo area, said Nicole Perna, a spokeswoman for the 42-year-old actor.

The Arizona fire forced the evacuation of the town of Mayer along with several other mountain communities in the area, and one of the main roads into Prescott was closed. Mayer has about 1,400 residents.

Many residents have painful memories of a 2013 wildfire that killed 19 members of a Prescott-based hotshot crew almost four years to the date. (AP)

Photo credits: Stuart Johnson/The Deseret News via AP, Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP (2)

See more photos of the wildfires and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.

Taylor Kitsch is on an All-American role

You would be forgiven for thinking Taylor Kitsch is the ultimate all-American guy. In his most prominent acting roles, the native Canadian has played a Navy Seal (Lone Survivor), a California detective (True Detective), and a star football player (Friday Night Lights), all with a thread of homegrown panache. He’s also, by his count, played at least six real people (including cult leader David Koresh, in the upcoming series Waco).

In his next film, Only the Brave, the actor combines all that accrued experience for one of his most daunting roles yet: firefighter Chris MacKenzie (“Mac,” as Kitsch calls him), a 30-year-old wildfire specialist who died in the devastating Yarnell Hill blaze that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters in 2013.

Based on a harrowing GQ article, Only the Brave, directed by Joseph Kosinski, paints a familial portrait of the 19 “hotshots”—firefighters who are specially trained to tame unforgiving wildfires—who died that day. Kitsch remembers hearing about the Yarnell Hill Fire when it happened, but never knew the full story until he got the script for this film.

“I didn’t even know what a hotshot was,” he tells Vanity Fair. “The beauty of this job is you get to really envelop yourself in these kind of beats.”

The film is told largely through the purview of Brendan McDonough (played by Miles Teller), a young ne’er-do-well who gets a chance to straighten up when superintendent Eric Marsh (played by Josh Brolin) lets him train with and join his firefighting division. While preparing for the film, McDonough and fellow trainers took the Only the Brave actors through hotshot training for two weeks. “Long hikes, 50-pound backpacks,” Kitsch recalls. “You’re carrying the fuel and the chainsaws. It really is an artform to fight these fires.”

In real life, Mac and McDonough were roommates, constantly ribbing each other. He was one of the first people to give McDonough the nickname “Donut.” 

To prep for the film, Kitsch would pepper McDonough with questions and pore over Mac’s old Instagram account. “There’s times when McDonough’s passed out on his rug and Mac would take an intimate photo and post it and just rip it,” Kitsch says. Through his research, he also learned that Mac was a talented surfer and snowboarder, and companies would often send him shoes, a detail that slyly makes its way into the film. “That was just one thing that I loved to hang my hat on,” the actor says.

Kitsch also met with Mac’s family on set, later going to dinner with his father, who’s been “a rock star through this whole thing.”

While shooting in Santa Fe, the actor also built a special bond with his co-stars. They first met for a table read (“I don’t know what actor likes table reads,” Kitsch quips), then went into hotshot training, where Brolin immediately took up a leadership position. “He was just an enormous influence,” Kitsch says of the actor. “We really bonded on this.”

Kitsch, who just shot in Santa Fe for Waco, says the actors would often go into town to drink, play pool, or go bowling. “I knew the city well and it’s obviously an older demographic, so you hold on to each other,” he says. Co-star Miles Teller would organize basketball games a couple times a week to blow off some steam (“He’s really good,” Kitsch promises). The actors also have a group text that’s still going strong months after the film has wrapped, where they swap jokes and share family photos. “Not a birthday’s missed,” Kitsch adds.

Which raises the most important question of all—does tough-guy Josh Brolin use emojis?

“Everyone texts emojis,” Kitsch says. “You can’t say no to emojis. I was a big fan of the boxing gloves for a bit. I’m all over the map. Gotta keep ‘em on their toes. ” 



The community said goodbye to firefighter-paramedic Larry Heczko on Nov. 19. Heckzo, a firefighter-paramedic for 23 years, died Nov. 13 in an off-duty construction accident. Fire departments from around the region, as well as the fire department from his hometown in Connecticut, attended his funeral and joined in the procession. Hecko’s son, Mark, and daughter, Annie, wrote a letter in this week’s Press, page A7, to give their thanks to the community for the love and support shown to them.

[on a story about a teenage boy performing a heroic act] Yea, too bad that would NEVER happen with teenage girls- when was the last time one of them ever stopped to help anyone? Or any female anywhere for that matter? In other words, men of ALL ages are the ONLY one rescuing or saving anyone ever. Does 19 firefighters in Arizona dying ring a bell? Yea, they were all MEN.

Manslation: I am going to deliberately exclude women from jobs that would pay them to frequently physically rescue people from immediate danger and then blame women for not holding jobs where they frequently physically rescue people from immediate danger. I am also going to discourage the average woman from becoming physically strong and then blame the average woman for not being physically strong. I am going to ignore all the kinds of heroic acts that don’t involve immediate physical danger, as well as the literally countless acts of heroism by women that would meet even that single criterion.