PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Nineteen firefighters killed in a wildfire a week ago went home for the last time on Sunday, their bodies traveling in individual white hearses in a somber caravan for 125 miles through Arizona cities and towns.
The nearly five-hour-long procession began near the state Capitol in Phoenix, went through the town where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed and ended in the mountain community of Prescott, where they lived and will be laid to rest this week.
Thousands of people from across the state and beyond stood patiently in triple-digit temperatures in Phoenix, lined highways and overpasses along the route, and flooded the roads of downtown Prescott to pay their respect to the 19 killed on June 30.
They included fellow firefighters, the men's family members, complete strangers and residents of Yarnell, the small town they died trying to save.
Those along the procession cried, they saluted, they held their hands over their hearts.
"It's overwhelming to watch this slow procession of 19 hearses," said a tearful Bill Morse, a Flagstaff fire captain who has been stationed in Prescott for a week helping deal with the tragedy. "The ceremonious air of it all. It's heartbreaking."