On Aug. 2 firefighters took to the corners and parking lots of Hawthorne with boots in hand to raise money for the families of 19 Arizona firefighters who were killed in the line of duty.
Firefighters from Hawthorne and the SOC Nevada, LLC fire department stood on the corner of 5th Street and E Street, and in the Hawthorne Safeway parking lot, holding their boots and asking passing motorists to donate to the families.
“It is close to home for us,” said Mineral County Fire Chief T.C. Knight. “Firefighters, we are one giant family, coast to coast, north to south, east to west. We consider them all family so this is us doing our small part to look out for our own and make sure those families are provided for.”
Knight said he would be happy to raise $1,000 for the firefighters’ families.
Knight said the decision was made to raise funds for these firefighters because of the unusually high number of firefighters killed at the same time.
“We did this for 9-11 [when] we thought we could help the families out,” said Rob Mathias, SOC fire chief. “That was successful, so we thought this could be successful.”
Mathias said the response was good at Safeway.
“They’re stopping on the highway, truckers are stopping, everybody’s stopping, giving what they can,” Mathias said. “We really appreciate that.”
Knight said the last boot drive in Mineral County was after 9-11, when Mineral County firefighters raised more than $10,000.
The Arizona firefighters were part of an elite crew called the Hotshots who parachuted into rough terrain near wildfires to combat blazes.
The hotshots were killed on June 30 near Prescott, Ariz. when they were overcome by fire and their protective fire shields weren’t enough to repel the intense heat of the fire.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency about 70 firefighters have been killed in the line of duty this year, mostly by heart attacks and car accidents.
“We feel a deep, deep sense of pride for the career we’ve chosen,” Knight said.
“Although it may be a calculated risk, it’s a risk none-the-less,” Knight said. “We feel it our duty to look out for one another, and that extend far beyond the boundaries of a county or a state.”