The city of Prescott has released the names of the 19 firefighters who were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday night.
19 Firefighters Died in the Line of Duty on June 30, 2013. 18 of them were members of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew as well as the Prescott Fire Department in Arizona. One other firefighter’s affiliation is unknown at this time. The fire has burned 8300 acres and hundreds of homes. There are reports of 400 firefighters to be on scene to battle the fire today. Currently, the fire is 0% contained.
One member of the crew survived and was away from the group when they died. A lot of the information below is from this report.
A lot of the information is compiled from here as well. Associated Press reporters Raquel Maria Dillon in Seal Beach, Calif., Sue Manning in Los Angeles; and Felicia Fonseca and Hannah Dreier in Prescott contributed to this story.
Christopher Mackenzie, 30
MacKenzie graduated from Hemet High School along with William “Billy” Warneke in 2001. He joined the U.S. Forest Service in 2004. He began work with Prescott in 2011. MacKenzie was a second generation firefighter. His father, Captain Mike MacKenzie retired from the Moreno Valley FD in California.
Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Married. Father of four.
Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught many of the Hotshots, and remembered 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft as a fitness-oriented student.
“He had some athletic ability in him and he was a go-getter, too. You could pretty much see, from young freshman all the way, he was going to be physically active.”
Beneitone said athletic prowess was a must for the Hotshots. “That’s what it takes. You gotta be very physically fit, and you gotta like it, gotta like the hard work.” (Source)
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Woyjeck is originally from Southern California and is a second generation firefighter. His father, Captain Joe Woyjeck, works for the Los Angeles County FD where Kevin got his start as a Fire Explorer. Kevin was also a Paramedic.
Anthony Rose, 23
Anthony Rose, 23, was one of the youngest victims. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King before moving on to become a Hotshot.
Retired Crown King firefighter Greg Flores said Rose “just blossomed in the fire department. He did so well and helped so much in Crown King. We were all so very proud of him.”
Flores said the town was planning a fundraiser for Rose and hoped to also have a memorial to honor him.
“He was the kind of guy that his smile lit up the whole room and everyone would just rally around him,” he said. “He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart.” (Source)
Eric Marsh, 43
Eric Marsh, 43, was an avid mountain biker who grew up in Ashe County, N.C., but became hooked on firefighting while studying biology at Arizona State University, said Leanna Racquer, the ex-wife of his cousin. Marsh lived with Racquer and her then-husband during the winters from 1992 through 1996 in North Carolina, but kept returning to Arizona during fire season.
After college, he kept working as a firefighter, eventually landing a full-time job and settling in northern Arizona. He even moved his parents to the state, she said. Marsh was superintendent of the Hotshot crew and the oldest of the 19 who died.
“He’s was great — he was the best at what he did,” Racquer said. “He is awesome and well-loved and they are hurting,” she said of his family. (Source)
Robert Caldwell, 23
Robert moved to Prescott as a young child from Pennsylvania, used to make pilgrimages to Phoenix with his crew any time the Philadelphia Phillies were in town to play the Diamondbacks. Mr. Caldwell’s sister, Taylor Caldwell, went to the high school prom with Clayton Whitted, another crew member who died. “This town is so small everyone knew each other,” Ms. Caldwell said.
“If Robert was going to die,” Ms. Caldwell added, “at least he was with his brothers, 18 of his brothers.” (source)
Clayton Whitted, 28
Full of heart and determination, Clayton Whitted, 28, might not have been the biggest guy around, but he was among the hardest-working. His former Prescott High School coach, Lou Beneitone, said Whitted was a “wonderful kid” who always had a big smile on his face. Whitted played for the football team as an offensive and defensive lineman.
“He was a smart young man with a great personality, just a wonderful personality,” said Beneitone. “When he walked into a room, he could really light it up.”
Beneitone said Whitted loved being a firefighter and was well-respected among his crew. He says he ran into Whitted about two months ago and they shook hands and hugged, and talked about the upcoming fire season.
“I told him to be careful,” Beneitone said. (Source)
Scott Norris, 28
Scott Norris, 28, was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky O’Neill Guns.
“Here in Arizona the gun shops are a lot like barbershops. Sometimes you don’t go in there to buy anything at all, you just go to talk,” said resident William O’Hara. “I never heard a dirty word out of the guy. He was the kind of guy who if he dated your daughter, you’d be OK with it.
“He was just a model of a young, ideal American gentleman.”
O’Hara’s son Ryan, 19, said Norris’ life and tragic death had inspired him to live a more meaningful life.
“He was a loving guy. He loved life. And I’ve been guilty of not looking as happy as I should, and letting things get to me, and Scott wasn’t like that at all.” (Source)
Dustin Deford, 24
Dustin DeFord, 24, had been a firefighter since he turned 18 and started as a volunteer in tiny Ekalaka, Mont. His father, the Rev. Steve DeFord, said the outpouring of support there has been unbelievable.
“We’ve got enough food in the house to last a year,” he said.
DeFord graduated from Cornerstone Bible Institute in Hot Springs, S.D., three years ago, his father said, and always believed God was his guiding force.
On his Facebook page last year, he talked about wanting to find work in western Montana, but God instead moved him to Arizona. Immediately he worked to improve his skills on the climbing wall at a gym near the firehouse.
“He listened very well. He was very respectful,” said Tony Burris, a trainer at Captain Crossfit. “He kind of had a dry sense of humor.”
Another trainer, Janine Pereira, echoed that sentiment.
“You would say something to him, and he would respond with a crack, which was funny because he was so shy,” she said.
DeFord is survived by nine brothers and sisters, including a Marine Corps staff sergeant who is traveling home from Afghanistan, an older brother who is fighting fire with a helicopter team in New Mexico and a younger brother on a Hotshot crew in Alaska. (source)
Sean Misner, 26
Sean Misner, 26, leaves behind a wife who is seven months pregnant, said Mark Swanitz, principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County, where Misner graduated in 2005.
Misner played varsity football and also participated in the school’s sports medicine program where he wrapped sprained ankles and took care of sidelined athletes.
“He was a team player, a real helper,” Swanitz told The Associated Press on Monday.
In high school, Misner played several positions including wide receiver and defensive back. He was slim for a high school football player, but that didn’t stop him from tackling his opponents, recalled retired football coach Ken Gruendyke.
“He played with tremendous heart and desire,” Gruendyke said. “He wasn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the team but he played with great emotion and intensity.” (Source)
Garret Zuppiger, 27
Garret Zuppiger, 27, loved to be funny, said Tony Burris, a trainer at a gym where many of the Hotshots worked out.
Burris said the two bonded over their manly ginger facial hair.
“We both had a red beard and so we would always admire each other’s beards,” he said. “We also had a few conversations about beer.”
Zuppiger’s humor was evident on his blog, where he wrote about his grandmother’s one-eyed Chihuahua, his “best hair day ever” and a hike with his mother on Camelback Mountain in Phoenix. There also are photos of a tongue-in-cheek project to build a “ski-chair,” in which a living room recliner was placed atop two skis.
“Garret Zuppiger turns 25!” he wrote in a post several years ago. “Everyday is like a gift!!” (source)
Travis Carter, 31
At Captain Crossfit, a gym near the firehouse where the Hotshots were stationed, Travis Carter was known as the strongest one on the crew _ but also the most humble.
“No one could beat him,” trainer Janine Pereira said. “But the thing about him was he would never brag about it. He would just kill everyone and then go and start helping someone else finish.”
Carter, 31, was famous for once holding a plank for 45 minutes, and he was notorious for making up brutal workouts.
The crew recently did a 5-mile run during wilderness training. He then made them go to Captain Crossfit in the afternoon for another hard workout.
“The other guys who came in here always said that even though he was in charge, he was always the first one at the fire, the first one in action,” Pereira said. (source)
Grant McKee, 21
Grant McKee, 21, loved to give things away.
“Even as a child, I’d ask him where things were, and he’d say, `Oh, such and such liked it.’ And sometimes it really cost a lot! But he’d say, `Oh, he liked it so much,’” said his grandmother, Mary Hoffmann.
“So on his birthday, I started to say, `I hope you’re going to keep this!’” she said.
McKee’s cousin, Robert Caldwell, also was a Hotshot and also was killed Sunday.
“I had four grandchildren, but Grant was the sweetest most giving nature of any of my grandkids,” Hoffman said. “We used to think he was a little angel.”
McKee’s mother said Grant was training to be an emergency medical technician and only intended to work with the Hotshots for the summer.
During EMT training, he would ask for extra shifts at the emergency room. And because his superiors liked him, they would give them to him, Laurie McKee said.
“Grant was one of the most likable people you could ever meet,” she said. “Grant was friendly, he was outgoing. Everybody loved Grant.” (source)
Travis Turbyfill, 27
Known as “Turby” among crew members, Travis Turbyfill got a fulltime position with the Hotshots when another member’s girlfriend asked him to quit.
Turbyfill, 27, often worked with other Hotshots at Captain Crossfit, a warehouse filled with mats, obstacle courses, climbing walls and acrobatic rings near the firehouse. He would train in the morning and then return in the afternoon with his wife and kids.
Trainer Janine Pereira said she recently kidded Turbyfill for skipping workouts. His excuse was that he wanted to spend some quality time at Dairy Queen.
“He was telling me that it’s because it was Blizzard week, and he was just going to eat a Blizzard every night,” she said.
Tony Burris, another trainer, said he enjoyed watching Turby with his two daughters.
“Because he’s this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish, blonde curly hair, and they just loved their dad,” he said. (source)
Jesse Steed, 36
Jesse Steed, 36, is survived by his wife Desiree and two children, Caden (4) and Cambria (3), his sister Taunya Steed, brother Levi Federwisch and brother Cassidy Steed. (Credit: Cassidy Steed)
According to his brother: He was the captain of the Granite Mountain Hot Shot Fire Fighters Team for the last two years and was tragically lost during the Yarnell Hill wildfires in Arizona.
36 year-old Jesse Steed served in the Marine Corps from 1996-2000, and then became a firefighter for Prescott, Arizona that year. He joined the local Hot Shot crew around 2002 and then came on with the Granite Mountain Hot Shots around 03-04 when they were established. He was the most senior member of their team in both age and skill.
Wade Parker, 22
At 22, Wade Parker had just joined the Hotshots team. His father works for the nearby Chino Valley Fire Department, said retired Prescott Fire Department Capt. Jeff Knotek, who had known Wade since he was “just a little guy.”
The younger Parker had been very excited about being part of the Hotshot crew, Knotek said.
“He was another guy who wanted to be a second generation firefighter,” Knotek said. “Big, athletic kid who loved it, aggressive, assertive and in great shape.”
“It’s just a shame to see this happen,” Knotek said. (source)
Joe Thurston, 32
Back home in Cedar City, Utah, Joe Thurston, 32, used to go to an area reservoir with friends and promptly show how fearless he could be.
“He was definitely one of the daredevil types,” longtime friend Scott Goodrich told the Salt Lake Tribune. “We went to Quail (Creek) Reservoir, and we’d be finding 40- to 50-foot cliffs that people would be scared to jump off. He would just show up and be front-flipping off of them.”
He brought this bold streak to the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
“He had all the qualities that a firefighter would need to possess,” E.J. Overson, another friend, told the Salt Lake City newspaper. “He was service-oriented, very caring and willing to do some things that many others would say, `I don’t want to get involved.’”
Thurston was also determined, generous and hardworking, his friends said.
He went to Cedar High School and Southern Utah University, played in a band and rode skateboards.
“He was one of the best guys I ever met,” Goodrich said. (source)
William “Billy” Warneke, 25
Billy Warneke, 25, had just bought property in Prescott, near where his sister lives, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He joined the hotshot crew in April, and was a four-year veteran with the U.S. Marine Corps.
When his grandparents, Jack and Nancy Warneke, saw the news about the fire, they called Warneke’s sister. She told them their grandson and his unit were gone.
“Even though it’s a tragedy for the whole family, he was doing what he loved to do. He loved nature and was helping preserve nature,” Nancy Warneke said.
Warneke’s wife is due with their first child in December, Nancy Warneke told the Press-Enterprise. (source)
Billy Warneke, 25, and his wife, Roxanne, were expecting their first child in December, his grandmother, Nancy Warneke, told The Press-Enterprise newspaper in Riverside, Calif. Warneke grew up in Hemet, Calif., along with his fellow Granite Mountain hotshot, Chris MacKenzie. He was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April, buying a property in Prescott, near where his sister lived, the newspaper reported.
Nancy Warneke said she called her sister after seeing the fire on the news.
“She said, `He’s gone. They’re all gone,”‘ Nancy Warneke told The Press-Enterprise. “Even though it’s a tragedy for the whole family, he was doing what he loved to do. He loved nature and was helping preserve nature.” (Source)
John Percin, 24
He loved baseball and had an unforgettable laugh. In his aunt’s eyes, John Percin Jr. was, simply, “an amazing young man.”
“He was probably the strongest and bravest young man I have ever met in my life,” Donna Percin Pederson said in an interview with The Associated Press from her home in Portland, Ore.
John Percin Sr., declined to comment Monday. “It’s not a good time right now.”
Percin, 24, was a multisport high school athlete who graduated in 2007 from West Linn High School, southeast of Portland.
Geoff McEvers grew up playing baseball with Percin and remembered Percin as a fun-loving guy with an unforgettable laugh, The Oregonian newspaper reported
McEvers said he learned about the Percin’s death through friends.
“It’s already tragic when you hear about those who died,” McEvers told the newspaper, “but when you find out it’s someone you know personally, it’s tough.” (Source)