Plans for slain firefighting crew's station in the works

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PRESCOTT, AZ (AP) -

Prescott residents are trying to come up with a plan to save a fire station that housed 19 firefighters who died in a 2013 wildfire before the city decides to sell the building.

In early February, the City Council had identified the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighting team's old station as a property that could be sold to generate revenue, The Daily Courier reported.

Relatives of the crew who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire and other residents discussed options for preserving the fire station at a Feb. 25 meeting.

"It's a sacred place, as far as I'm concerned," resident Debbie Stewart said. She added that the property includes the fence on which grieving relatives, firefighters, and residents placed thousands of items to memorialize the firefighters after the June 2013 tragedy.

[RELATED: New book offers intimate look into lives of Yarnell 19]

One proposal discussed at the meeting calls for the United Firefighters Association to buy the building for use as a firefighting training site, while others wanted the station to serve as a museum. Residents also considered having the buggies that transported the hotshot crew acquired by the County of Los Angeles Fire Museum.

"I would like to present the option of the buggies coming to our facility," said Joe Woyjeck, father of fallen hotshot Kevin Woyjeck and captain with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "We're well-funded, and we have the right place."

Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light said a decision on the property will likely have to be made by May 1, but the city could decide on the buggies in coming weeks. He estimated the value of the buggies at $15,000 to $20,000 each.

[RELATED: Questions about the deaths of 19 hotshots may never be answered, attorney says]

The potential sale of the fire station comes as the city of Prescott grapples with a more than $78 million shortfall in its public-safety pension system.

With its zoning for light industrial use, the 1.3-acre fire station property could be used for a variety of business purposes. But residents are hoping to prevent that from happening.

"We've been looking at (the fire station) and knew something was going to happen," said Tom Haney, president of the United Yavapai Firefighters. "We can save this place and keep it from being another Wal-Mart."

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Information from: The Daily Courier, http://www.dcourier.com

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