Smyth County

Local fire department honors 19 firefighters killed in Arizona

Local fire dept. honors fallen firefighters

MARION, Va. - On this Fourth of July, people nationwide are remembering 19 firefighters who lost their lives battling a forest fire in Arizona. That includes firefighters here who found a unique way to pay their respects.

If you drive through Downtown Marion you will see nineteen American flags, but they're not there for the Fourth of July. "We all share the passion for protecting our communities. We understand the risks that we take every time the alarm goes off," says Marion volunteer firefighter Ken Heath.

Heath tells News 5 the flags represent the 19 firefighters killed while battling a wildfire in Arizona. "When you hear about wildfires it's just a terrible loss of property but I never thought so many firefighters would be lost in just seconds," he said.

Heath told us this is the largest loss of firefighters since the September 11 terrorist attacks; that's why they wanted to honor the firefighters that were killed. "It's all a part of a brotherhood. It's a part of something that we all look to each other and realize the dangers that we all face," Heath explained.

Firefighters across the country feel the tragedy in Arizona with the loss of 19 brothers. "We all realize it could be our time for that alarm any time. It's something that no matter how careful you are it could happen to you, and our families mourn with their families," adds Heath.

Heath hopes everyone who drives by the flags remembers those who died. "Also remember all of those who get out of the bed in the middle of the night to answer the call," says Heath.

Heath also hopes when people drive by the flags it will encourage them to volunteer at their local fire department, because they can always use the help.

We checked the latest on that Arizona fire -- nearly 600 firefighters continue to fight it, but it is now 45 percent contained.

The fire has destroyed more than 100 homes and burned about 13 square miles.

Most Popular