In Arizona, a solemn 100-mile procession for fallen firefighters
POSTED: Sunday, July 7, 2013 - 3:47pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 8, 2013 - 8:14am
(CNN) — Crowds lined the streets for a public procession from Phoenix to Prescott, Arizona, on Sunday in honor of 19 firefighters who died last week on the job.
People with no personal connection to members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot unit traveled from across the state and around the country to pay respects. The team died as they battled the Yarnell Hill Fire, which was sparked by lightning some 3.5 miles west of Yarnell.
"These men are heroes. They've earned the respect of everyone in this line," an onlooker told CNN affiliate KTVK as he awaited the procession in Phoenix.
Hearses carrying each casket left the coroner's office in Phoenix on Sunday afternoon to begin the nearly 100-mile procession to the unit's hometown of Prescott.
Erratic winds were blamed on the sudden shift in the fire's direction, trapping the group. As of Sunday, at least 90% of the fire had been contained, officials said. More than 100 homes over 13 square miles had been destroyed.
The firefighters left behind wives and children. One firefighter left behind his pregnant fiance.
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to attend a memorial planned for Tuesday.