By Arizona, USA News Team (Originally in English)
Soon after the Yarnell Hill Fire struck the state of Arizona, USA in June 2013, the elite Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from the City of Prescott Fire Department was dispatched to the scene. Two days later, 19 of the 20 crew members became trapped when changing weather conditions and heavy winds caused a wall of flames to overrun their position. Sadly, none of the men survived the inferno. The remaining crew member who had been serving as a lookout was spared from the fire. This disaster was the worst US wildfire tragedy in 80 years.
Upon hearing of the disaster, Supreme Master Ching Hai contributed US$19,000 to the fallen firefighters’ families, and requested our Association members to convey Her love and heartfelt condolences. Master also instructed us to provide assistance as needed to others affected by the fire, with funds available for reimbursement. On July 5, a team of our local Association members presented the City of Prescott Fire Department with 19 money orders in the amount of US$1,000 for each of the families. To provide further comfort, the team also prepared gift bags for the families, and for the surviving member of the Hotshot Crew and his fire station colleagues. The bags contained flowers, along with vegan cookies, biscuits, chips and juice, as well as books by Supreme Master Ching Hai, flyers about climate change, veganism and healthy living, and the Supreme Master Ching Hai Press Kit.
Prescott firefighter and paramedic Mr. Craig Schmitt graciously accepted the contributions on behalf of the families, stating that the support was overwhelming, not just from the local community and the US, but from around the world. He also expressed deep gratitude to Supreme Master Ching Hai for Her generous contribution to the fallen firefighters’ families.
Later, our team received the following note from the mother of one of the fallen Hotshot Crew members:
“To Whom It May Concern:
Today we received a substantial check in memory of our fallen firefighter son, Dustin DeFord. We would like to thank whoever is responsible. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.
While in Prescott, our team visited the massive memorial set up by the community in front of the Hotshot Crew’s fire station. The site had a somber atmosphere, but the team members were touched by the great outpouring of love, prayers and support for the firefighters and their families.
Our team also contacted the Red Cross, local animal shelters, and other agencies to see if others affected by the fire needed assistance. The Red Cross and shelters reported having no immediate needs, but Ms. Frances Lechner, Board Member of the Yarnell Fire Department and Communications Director of the Yarnell Recovery Group Interim Steering Committee wrote, “Thank you for your extraordinary contribution and the expression of love, comfort and appreciation it represents from Supreme Master Ching Hai. The assessments of those in need are still being completed. May I suggest that you consider the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group as the recipient for your donation, with your instructions that it go for emergency funds for those affected by the fire who need emergency money.”
In response to this correspondence, on July 22, 2013 a team member delivered a US$4,500 check to the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group for distribution to nine families who were most in need. Ms. Frances Lechner and Mr. Scott Shephard, Executive Director of the Yarnell Community Center, accepted the check along with copies of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s books, The Birds in My Life and From Crisis to Peace – The Organic Vegan Way is the Answer.
Upon the team member’s arrival, trucks and volunteers from local communities were helping out, and everyone was kind and welcoming. Ms. Lechner said that the relief work had slowed down and the local people were in the process of healing. Mr. Shephard was sincerely thankful for the check, and said that the fire-affected people had received many supplies but were in need of money, so the gift was perfectly timed.
As of July 10, 2013, officials reported that the Yarnell Hill Fire, which had burned 8,400 acres and destroyed more than 100 structures was 100% contained.
Our deepest condolences go to the families and friends of the heroic men who selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of their fellow citizens. May their noble souls rest in God’s eternal love and peace.
We pray for all those who lost their loved ones and homes in the Yarnell Hill Fire. We also pray for the protection of those living in areas prone to wildfires, and for the heroic firefighters who face these dangerous blazes.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association
For Yarnell Hill Fire Relief Work in Arizona, USA
|Contribution of $1000 to each of the 19 families of the fallen firefighters||19,000||A|
|Cash contribution to Yarnell Hill Fire Relief Group for distribution to nine families who were most in need||4,500||B|
|Gifts (flowers, along with vegan cookies, biscuits, chips and juice) for the surviving families and hotel and travel expenses for the relief team||1,115||C|
Throughout the relief operation, the team members paid for their own transportation and food.