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July 6, 2013 11:45am PST
A controversial new photo has surfaced, showing the body bags of the 19 dead Arizona firefights covered in American flags.
Grieving families are upset by the photo, but don’t know what to do about it now.
The photo was leaked by a Facebook user, who posted it on a Facebook page dedicated to the dead heros. It is still unclear who took the photo or how the Facebook user obtained it.
Even though the picture had no caption when it was posted, it still gained a massive amount of attention. Over 1,000 people shared the photo on their own Facebook walls.
Some viewers think the image pays a tribute to the firefighters who tragically died on Sunday — others, however, think it is an invasion of privacy.
All that is known about the photo is that it was taken on Monday when a separate team of firefighters removed the bodies from the charred forest. That recovery crew then draped flags over each body bag to honor the fallen heros.
The head of the Prescott Fire Department, Darrell Willis, said that although the photo was authentic it was not approved by the department. “This is totally unauthorized. It’s totally against anything we committed to,” he said.
The photo was likely posted on Facebook to honor the firefighters, but that’s not how it was received by some viewers.
One person wrote, “This picture is very overwhelming. This is a picture that should be kept private. This does not show respect for these heroes or their families. I would hope this picture would be removed.”
Juliann Ashcraft, a widow of one of the deceased men, said she knew they were going to take photos at the scene but thought they would be kept private.
She said, “It makes me sad. But it doesn’t make or break things in the end.”
The town’s Independence Day parade honored the victims, and Vice President Joe Biden will be attending the official memorial service for them on Tuesday. Obama, on the other hand, has been using the incident as an excuse to preach about global warming.
Investigators have pieced together a map, showing that the 19 highly trained “Hotshot” firefighters were a quarter of a mile northwest of the safety zone. They were using chain saws and axes to build a line between the wildfire and a small town called Yarnell.
As they arrived closer to the fire, firefighter Andrew Ashcraft texted this photo to his wife Juliann:
But the fire rapidly changed directions after winds shifted 180 degrees and blocked access to a large ranch property, know to the firefighters as the safety zone. It was a spot they should have been able to reach if things went bad.
The new map pieced together by investigators offers the most detailed depiction of exactly how the men died and their location at the time.
Only one of the Hotshot members survived — the 21-year-old lookout for the crew. His exact location during the fire is unclear, but he was on top of a hill and warned the team of the erratic winds. He told them they were in danger.
What a tragic story, especially coming right before Independence Day. Do you find the new surfaced photo offensive? Let us know your thoughts below.