This morning on radio, Glenn spoke with Mike Broomhead of KFYI Phoenix about the tragic death of the 19 elite Granite Mountain Hotshot fire unit in Arizona and how we can help the families of the fallen.
For those unfamiliar with the area, Mike described the location of the fires to be southeast of Flagstaff, and it is believed a lightning strike first caused the fire to break out.
“They thought it was a lightning strike,” Mike said. “It wasn't started manmade. It wasn't arson. They believe it was a lightning strike from storms that we were having – very dry, low humidity and just a tinderbox up there.”
The death of the 19 Hotshot firefighters is the largest single loss of life for any fire department since September 11, 2001. Until this week, those who do not live in fire-prone areas may not have been familiar with the work of this elite squadron, but Mike explained the make-up of the group.
“It was a 20‑person crew, this Hotshot crew was a 20‑person crew,” Mike explained. “The average age was around 21-years-old. They ranged in age from 21 to 43. The one survivor was sent on assignment and wasn't with the rest of the team and so that one survivor is in very good condition, but obviously the survivors remorse is – I mean, he is not speaking to the public. But it was 19 of a 20‑man crew lost.”
These kinds of groups are trained to withstand the harshest conditions and are often sent into blazing fires to set up the perimeters that stop large-scale fires from spreading. In this case, it is being speculated that a change in wind direction caused the group to be trapped by the fire, despite their best efforts to survive.
“So tell me, they had these bags that they were put in. I guess the firefighters have these safety bags that they zip themselves in? Can you explain that,” Glenn asked.
“I got an explanation yesterday. They're kind of like those visors you put in your windshield, those metallic visors to keep the sun out of your car,” Mike explained. “They are a last resort… They are just kind of heat retardants but they are not necessarily flame‑proof. They tell these firefighters that if you, as a last resort, cover yourself with this, you actually wrap yourself in this… They were told that if they have to use this, expect to get third degree burns, but it's the only way you have a chance of survival when the fire is on top of you and that close.”
There is a wonderful group in Arizona, the 100 Club of Arizona, that is working tirelessly to ensure the families of fallen heroes – like the 19 men that passed away this weekend – are taken care of.
“The 100 Club is a fully privately funded organization,” Mike said. “What they do is they seek permission through a liaison. They don't just barge into these families that are grieving. But within 24 hours or 48 hours, they bring a $15,000 check as a gift that's not – there’s no strings attached. It is usually someone who is a survivor of a First Responder. And they hand them a $15,000 check and say this is a gift just to get you through these first couple of days, to pay your bills so that you can grieve.”
“And then they also let them know we are an organization of survivors of First Responders and we will be an emotional connection to help you walk through these dark days,” he continued. “And they told me yesterday they've never written 19 checks, 19 $15,000 checks in a year. They wrote 19 of them and are writing them as we speak, in one day.”
Glenn was so moved by the story of these brave men and the work of the 100 Club that he decided to donate $50,000 to the organization to help replenish some of the funds that have been drained as a result of this tragedy.
“So here's the thing, Mike,” Glenn said. “I'm going to write you – I'm going to write the 100 Club of Arizona but I'd like you to present it to them. I'm going to write them a check for $50,000, and then I would encourage everyone to [do the same]… But help these families out. I mean, as we all know, firefighters do not make very much money and we want to start with $50,000 and replenish some of their deficit here to take care of them, to make sure that they are taking care of the people.”
“Glenn, that is amazingly kind,” Mike said. You know, this is why I got into this business, to do these kinds of things, and no one, no one does it like you do, and I cannot thank you enough. You're the best.”
“There is no audience, I contend… as generous and as amazing as this one. And I can back that up with stats,” Glenn concluded. “I don't believe there's ever been a collection of people that have listened to a mainstream show like this ever in the history of radio. And I'm grateful that they are as active as they are. Mike, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. And let us know how we can help.”
To donate to the 100 Club of Arizona, visit their website HERE.