Somerton Firefighter helps plan fallen hotshots' funerals


Somerton Firefighter helps plan fallen hotshots' funerals


YUMA, Ariz. (13 On Your Side) - It's an unthinkable scenario: planning the funerals of 19 of your fellow firefighters killed in the line of duty. That's what Somerton Firefighter Robby Rodriguez had to do for the fallen firefighters in Yarnell, AZ.

Rodriguez tells 13 On Your Side he cannot find the words to explain how he's feeling right now. The past week and a half has been an emotional roller coaster but he says he's pulling through for the sake of honoring his fallen comrades, their families, and a community scarred by tragedy.

"Losing 19 firefighters... is incredible; I can't even speak about it," said Rodriguez.

 Lost for words, Somerton Firefighter says it's difficult to maintain his composure expressing his feelings. On the emotional trauma of consoling grieving families including: wives, children, mothers and fathers, all while helping them plan the funerals of the 19 mountain granite hotshots killed battling the yarn ell hill fire ten days ago.

"Nowhere near what the families are going through so we just carry on, do our job and we try to honor the fallen," he said.

The fallen: an unbreakable brotherhood bond. "Anytime a firefighter loses his life, it's very hard on firefighters. And being one and working up here on the funerals, it's even tougher."

Rodriguez says help is pouring in from across the nation - even outside the country.

"I've seen firefighters from LA County, Long Beach, Canada, Missouri… it just goes on and on." They are all helping one another cope with the loss of 19 heroes.

"To see engines from all over the state, doing their part in protecting Prescott, while the Prescott firefighters are mourning the loss of their 19," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez says it's been anything but easy being in Prescott during these difficult times.

He says he's been so busy and hasn't had time to grieve, but when he thinks he's reaching his breaking point: "call my family, talk to my boys, tell them what dad's doing down here, talk to my parents, talk to other firefighters out here because they are hurting just as much as I am."

The Arizona LAST team member also says the community outreach has helped him and his fellow firefighters stay strong. "They know that we are serving them and there may be a chance that we don't come home."

Rodriguez will be returning home this weekend where he will get a change to debrief with the help of his family, fellow firefighters and the community he so proudly serves.

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