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Auction set for state land to become memorial for 19 killed in Yarnell Hill Fire, name chosen

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PRECOTT, Arizona — The Arizona state Land Department will auction the site where 19 firefighters died two years ago, and the state Parks Department is hoping to be the winning bidder so a planned memorial can be constructed.

The 320-acre site outside the small community of Yarnell is set to become the "Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park," to honor the 19 Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots who died battling the 2013 blaze, state Parks Director Sue Black said Thursday.

The parks board formally chose the name Wednesday after consulting with the memorial site design committee and families of the fallen firefighters.

Black said the date for the auction, June 30, was chosen intentionally.

"I somewhat picked that in reverence of that day," she said in an interview.

Because the site is owned by the Land Department, which oversees state trust lands, it must be put up for public auction. There's no way to know if other bidders might emerge, and the Parks Department can only pay fair market value for the parcel, which sits just up the hill from the town the firefighters were working to protect when they were overrun by the flames.

"We'll have to see if anybody will come and bid, but that's part of the public process," Black said.

The Land Department appraised the land at $304,000, and the Legislature has appropriated $500,000 for the purchase.

If the Parks Department wins the bidding, several groups will go to work on final designs, plans for public access to the site and work on construction and ongoing operations budgets.

A formal timeline for the park's construction and opening hasn't been set.

The auction will be held Tuesday on the steps of the Yavapai County Courthouse in Prescott, hours before a formal event at the courthouse to commemorate the anniversary.

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