Nightly News   |  July 01, 2013

Community shaken by Arizona’s fallen firefighters

In Prescott, Ariz., it was supposed to be the biggest week of the year, with the town’s annual rodeo getting underway, but now the entire town is grieving for the 19 firefighters who died battling the Yarnell Hill blaze. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we're learning more about the hot shot crew of firefighters, gabe gutierrez also in prescott, arizona. gabe, good evening.

>> reporter: they ranged in age from 21 to 43. they were the hot shots , known around here as the most elite firefighters, and tonight as you can see behind me, a massive outpouring of support for their families. for prescott, this was supposed to be the biggest week of the year. the town's annual rodeo. but tonight a makeshift memorial is growing and the community is shaken. his mother said he lived life to the fullest many.

>> he was a good kid. kevin only one 21 years old. he wanted to fire in his father's footsteps and fight fires in los angeles county .

>> we're all a big family.

>> andrew leaves behind a wife and four young children, all under the age of 6.

>> 19 gone. it's unreal. overwhelming. so many families impacted.

>> reporter: reality hasn't sunk in for others.

>> i thought for a moment that i had dreamt his death, but, sadly, it hit me moments later that it wasn't a dream or a nightmare. it was reality.

>> most of them raised here, part of the community and met their wives here or their girlfriends, whatever they have. raised their kids here and the kids are all young.

>> in this town of 40,000, at least everyone knew at least one of these firefighters.

>> reporter: blind sides you, drops you to your sneeknees.

>> jeff knew all of them. he retired yesterday from the fire service . he was called back to work yesterday afternoon to notify the families.

>> reporter: it's hard.

>> a town in the desert where firefighting is a way of life is fighting back pain and praying for those still on the front lines. there is already a public memorial scheduled for later tonight, brian.

>> reporter: gabe gutierrez, part of our team covering this. thanks.

>>