Memorial board wants state parks system to buy Hotshots site

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) -- A state board responsible for planning a memorial for 19 Arizona firefighters is recommending that the state park system buy 250 acres that include the site where the men perished in 2013 during the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The Yarnell Hill Memorial Site Board made the unanimous recommendation Tuesday while meeting in Prescott, the Daily Courier ( ) reported.

The 19 firefighters who died June 30, 2013, were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a city of Prescott wildland fire crew. The crew's 20th member survived because he was some distance away when flames swept through a brush-choked canyon.

The state in 2014 appropriated $500,000 to purchase the site in southwestern Yavapai County. It's on state trust land, which is held to benefit public schools and other public institutions. State trust land cannot be donated.

"The number one sole purpose of this was to preserve the site," said state Rep. Karen Fann, a Prescott Republican who sponsored the appropriation bill. "It could be that's all we end up doing."

Fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft's mother said she'd like the site to remain fairly undeveloped. There could be life-sized bronzes of each Hotshot lining a foot path to the site, with explanations of what happened and what Hotshots do, Deborah Pfingston said

Pfingston said she hopes the state also will buy the land where the Hotshots dug two fire lines. One of the lines already is within the 250 acres outlined for purchase.

The site is currently closed to the public.

A rough appraisal has estimated the property's value at approximately $250,000, said Bryan Martyn, State Parks director and chair of the memorial board.

The board on Tuesday also formed subcommittees for fundraising, design, access and site maintenance.