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Family, friends of Yarnell 19 given special tour of newly dedicated memorial

Family and friends of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire three years ago watched as a long-awaited memorial was finally dedicated.

YARNELL, Ariz. - Family and friends of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire three years ago watched as a long-awaited memorial was finally dedicated Tuesday.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park is a roughly two-mile trail, ending in the spot where the firefighters died.

Plaques dedicated to each firefighter and the job of wildland firefighting are placed along the trail so people can learn about each fallen hotshot.

A half mile from the trailhead is Eric Marsh's plaque.

"It’s bittersweet," Marsh's father John said as he came down the trail Tuesday. "You’re proud it’s there and very thankful and very humbled."

The families were taken for a private tour of the memorial at the end of the trail Tuesday morning.

PHOTOS: Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park dedicated

The memorial is a circle of stone, surrounded by purple ribbons, marking the spot where the 19 firefighters deployed their fire shelters.

The 19 hotshots had become cut off from their escape route as the Yarnell Hill fire bore down on the town of Yarnell. With no other option, they deployed their shelters, hoping to ride out the blaze.

All 19 died in the single largest loss of firefighters since 9/11.

“They were all for one and one for all and just a special, special group," Judy Willis said. Willis's husband, Darryl Willis, helped start the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Former Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said he hoped the trail would help people understand what it takes to be a wildland firefighter.

“They worked hard, they were dedicated, they were disciplined and I hope people will realize that that’s what it takes to do this," Fraijo said.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park will open to the public on Wednesday.