Mo. fire service team to help at firefighters funerals in Ariz

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RIVERSIDE, Mo. - A group of Missouri firefighters were on the road Sunday, headed to Arizona.  They said they're planning to help with the funerals of some of the members of an elite firefighting group, who died in a massive blaze late June.

John Hesson is the team leader for the Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team.

"One life is way too many. 19 is just astronomical," he said.

Hesson said eight Missouri firefighters with the will be traveling to the Yarnell, Ariz. area to help lay to rest some of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots team that were killed June 28.

"It's very unfortunate. It's a sad thing instead of being able to thank them and give thank you's we're having to bury 19 individuals that did their jobs and did it very well," Hesson said.

The group is bringing a bell dedicated to an Odessa firefighter who was lost in the line of duty.  It will be used at graveside ceremonies. They're also bringing a decorative piece that will go on the back of one hose bed.

"I know as of right now we're looking at two funerals on Wednesday.  I believe there is a total of five funerals and then there's another one on Thursday," Hesson said.

Hesson said he knows heartache awaits, but the firefighters from Riverside, Sedalia, Clayton, Eureka, Gower and Branson fire departments said they'll be there from beginning to end for the families and community.

"By the time it's said and done we become very close with these families. We have often built relationships that continue long long after the services are over with," Hesson said.

The crew said they'll be released on Friday, and expect to be back in the metro sometime Saturday.

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email: gia.vang@wdaftv4.com

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