NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Dierks Bentley has one day off the rest of this month and he's giving it to the families of fallen firefighters in Arizona.
The country music star will host the "Country Cares Concert" on July 22 in Prescott Valley, Ariz., where 19 members of a wildland firefighting crew were killed last week. Their deaths left behind 51 fatherless children, a number that sticks with the former Arizona resident as he waits for the birth of his third child later this year.
"We want to make as much for those families as we can and hopefully start something that will continue on long after the music is over as far as remembering the firefighters and their families and these kids that live on as well," Bentley said. "We want to help get something rolling to look after them and help them move forward."
The Granite Mountain Hotshots from the Prescott Fire Department were killed June 30 near Yarnell, Ariz., when winds shifted, cutting off their escape route. It was the largest loss of life for firefighters in a single event since the Sept. 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York.
A memorial service was to be held Tuesday with Vice President Joe Biden and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano scheduled to attend.
Bentley is inviting other performers for the benefit, to be announced in the coming days. All proceeds from the concert will go to the United Phoenix Firefighters to be distributed directly to the families of the fallen. Tickets for the event go on sale Friday at the Tim's Toyota Center box office in Prescott Valley or online at sponsor radio station KMLE-FM's website.
Bentley grew up in Phoenix and has fond memories of rolling through the area on Highway 69. He spent a lot of time camping and fishing in the central part of the state before moving the Nashville for college and the music business, and is glad he can return to help out.
"It's a tragic event but hopefully this will provide some healing and sort of be an uplifting moment for the community," Bentley said. "We want to raise some money, try to be positive, focus on the good things and do something good on this occasion. Hopefully, it will be a fun evening in the face of tragic events and raise people's spirits."