A group of Bakersfield Fire Department firefighters will attend the memorial service in Prescott, Ariz., Tuesday for the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew that lost 19 firefighters last week.
Bakersfield Fire Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza said he and the 13 local firefighters going didn't think twice about driving to Arizona. They will travel in a 15-passenger van.
"We knew right away that we had to get organized and plan to be there because as firefighters, we are all family, whether it's with firefighters around the state or around the nation," Galagaza said.
Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, part of the Prescott Fire Department, lost their lives June 30 while battling the 2,000-acre Yarnell Hill fire that ignited Friday south of Prescott.
The local firefighters attending the service collected $5,000 of their own money for the Granite Mountain relief fund and are spending their own funds and using their own vacation time to make the trip.
Harold A. Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said the group expects more than 6,000 people to attend the services.
"Having all these different firefighters come in from different states just shows the brotherhood that exists in our profession and ultimately, we are all joined together no matter where we live," Schaitberger said.