One of the greatest things about living in a close-knit community is that when families fall on hardships, neighbors turn out to help those in need.

During the last few weeks, there were several instances where neighbors, friends and community residents are coming together for several good causes.

First, the tragedy in Yarnell with the raging wildfires, which were started by a lightning strike, cannot escape our minds. Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots fire crew were killed on the front lines.

Together, the crew attacked the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, cutting lines into the chaparral. Then, the fire struck back. In a flash, 19 of the hotshots died in the nation’s deadliest wildland fire tragedy since 1933.

While the nation and state have come together to honor these men’s lives, the Town of Marana is stepping up to help the pregnant widow of one of the victims.

The Northwest Fire District has taken no time in jump to aid William Warneke’s wife. Warneke, 25, was killed along with 18 other members of his crew, leaving behind a wife of five years.

He also left behind a massive remodeling project of the couple’s home. With a deadline to have the remodeling done before their first child is due in December, Warneke’s presence is obvious in the home, with his work gloves laying on the bathroom sink of a torn up bathroom, showing the sign of one of his last acts of a civilian before returning to duty.

Warneke, along with the 18 other victims, took on a job that many either cannot do, and many others won’t do because of the dangers that go with it. They worked to keep our communities safe, and protect our homes from burning down as each new wildfire arises year after year.

Now, it is the community answering the call. They are calling for donations. Whether the donation is the financial kind, or the kind that involves putting skills in remodeling and landscaping to good use.

Because of the kind hearts and good souls, I have no doubt the goal to remodel this home, as a community effort, will be achieved.

On Tuesday, Warneke was honored during a memorial service in Prescott along with the 18 other men in his crew. Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. Jan Brewer attended the service, among other dignitaries.

However, on Wednesday, Warneke will be brought home where he will be laid to rest in his hometown of Marana.

The National Guard will fly Warneke’s body into the Marana Northwest Regional Airport from Prescott on Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighter Warneke’s casket will be placed atop a Prescott fire engine, which will then lead a procession of first responder units as he is brought to his final resting place.

The public is encouraged to view the procession and pay their final respects along the route to the Marana Mortuary (12146 W. Barnett). Hundreds of firefighters and first responders are expected to take part in the procession and service.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

Words can't express the gratitude we owe to these firefighters who gave their lives doing what few people would do. They were all heroes. God bless them all and the loved ones and friends they left behind.

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