Chaplains Deploying to Deadly Ariz. Wildfire

By   •   July 1, 2013

fire damage

Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are ministering in Prescott, Ariz., where a wildfire killed 19 firefighters–members of an elite “Hotshot Crew” working to stop the spread of a massive blaze 100 miles northwest of Phoenix.

“Our hearts go out to the families of those firefighters as well as the fire station,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “Firefighters are like brothers.”

The firefighters were killed Sunday night while battling the Yarnell Hill fire in central Arizona. The loss of 19 crew members made Sunday the deadliest day for firefighters in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

“We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you’ll ever meet,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo told reporters in Arizona. “Right now, we’re in crisis.”

Two crisis-trained chaplains with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team arrived in Prescott Monday evening to offer emotional and spiritual care to the community.

One of the chaplains is a retired police officer from Florida; the other is a longtime firefighter from Colorado who currently serves as a fire chaplain. They’ll be joined by five more chaplains, all of whom have firefighting backgrounds.

Munday says the ability to send chaplains who have experience on the fire lines is an asset, because it could make it easier for first responders in Arizona to talk about what they’re going through.

“The need for emotional and spiritual care is critical,” Munday said. “They need to talk. They don’t want to put a burden on their family. It’s easier for them to talk to someone who’s a peer.”

The situation in Prescott is especially difficult because the firefighters who lost their peers on Sunday still have a raging wildfire to battle.

“They’re still in the midst of all this chaos,” said Jeff Naber, manager of chaplain development and ministry relations. “There are firefighters who are friends of the ones who were lost, who are probably on the front lines right now. So, we just need to be praying for God to be with them.”

The Yarnell Hill fire was still blazing out of control Tuesday. At least 100 buildings have been destroyed, and several towns outside Prescott were evacuated.

In addition to Prescott, the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team currently has chaplains deployed to Colorado Springs, Colo., following a deadly wildfire that destroyed hundreds of homes last month. Crisis-trained chaplains are also serving in Moore, Okla., following this spring’s devastating tornadoes.

Stay with billygraham.org for updates on the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s deployments.

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13 Comments

  1. Carolyn says:

    Prayers going out to each and every family member, loved ones, friends, firefighter brothers, and everyone involved in this horrific fire situation. And God please bring this fire under control and be with those still fighting it in Jesus name! Amen

  2. Patricia says:

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our affliction…2 Corinthians 3-4

  3. Sherry says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with those still fighting the fires and for those friends and family members who lost so much. We are all so sorry for your terrible loss. Please Lord Jesus, help them all, in Your Holy name, amen.

  4. Dottie says:

    HeavenlyFather, I pray for all of these firefighters and their families. Please surround them with your holy presence. Bring them comfort and peace that surpasses our human understanding. In the name of your precious Son Jesus. Amen

  5. Teresa says:

    Thank you so much!! Prayers for all involved!!

  6. Pat says:

    Father I ask you to comfort the loved one's, friends, fellow fire fighters and everyone who is so saddened by this tragedy. Father You are the great comforter and just ask you to be with these people. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

  7. Donna says:

    God Bless you all.. What a Blessing to send Men of God to help… It's a sad situation, and I pray many are comforted by your selfless giving of love..

  8. Meg says:

    God be in Arizona to comfort and heal family members and firefighters alike. Comfort all who are grieving in Jesus name, Amen.

  9. Suzy says:

    Please let the firefighters who are still fighting the fires know that the USA is praying for their safety, courage and strength. And thank them for what they do for us every day. God bless First Responders!

  10. Sandra says:

    Thank You! Prayers for you as you minister