Families of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots offered free cruise

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Surviving family members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots killed in the Yarnell Hill tragedy are embarking on a special "healing" cruise.

The families were approached by Vantage Deluxe World Travel to take a 10-day, European cruise along the Danube River. All expenses on the cruise will be paid.

Those we spoke to say, at the time of the tragedy, they couldn't even imagine a vacation. But now, as emotions run high around the holidays, many say the trip with others who understand their situation will be comforting.

"I think it's a blessing," says Juliann Ashcraft, who lost her husband Andrew in the fire. "Sometimes it's a group you never wish to be a part of, but when you are, you're grateful that it's there. It's such a huge support system; people who really get it. I just think, to get us together, and a lot of people understand, they understand the struggle of the holidays, and everyone can just be themselves."

19 people will be going on the cruise. Their plane took off at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday.

The Yarnell Hill fire burned 8,400 acres and destroyed more than 100 homes, but became infamous June 30 when it trapped and killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots as they fought the blaze.