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19 Firefighters Killed Battling Arizona Wildfire

yarnell-fireNineteen members of an elite wildland firefighting squad died June 30 battling the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix.

Kevin Woyjeck, of Seal Beach, Billy Warneke and Chris MacKenzie, both of Hemet, were identified as three of the 19 firefighters.

The other firefighters killed were Anthony Rose, 23; Eric Marsh, 43; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted , 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; Jesse Steed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; John Percin, 24; Scott Norris, 28; and Andrew Ashcraft, 29.

 

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The 19 firefighters killed while battling an Arizona wildfire last month understood what few did, Vice President Joe Biden told thousands who attended their memorial Wednesday.

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Memorial for 19 firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire

They realized, he told a packed arena in Prescott Valley, that integrity “is measured by whether you respond to the needs of your neighbors.”

“(Help) came in the form of 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots who rushed toward the flames as everyone else retreated. And in the process, 19 of them gave their lives,” Biden said.

“These men were some of the strongest, most disciplined, tenacious, physically fit men in the world — an elite unit in every sense of that phrase,” Biden said. “… They raced to embrace life just like they raced (to) the fight against … the raging fire on Yarnell Hill.”

Biden and other dignitaries — including Gov. Jan Brewer and the state’s U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake — joined relatives and a grieving community for the memorial, which paid tribute to the 19 elite firefighters who were overcome by a raging inferno on June 30.

Click here to read more at CNN.com.

Firefighting Cousins Die Together Fighting Arizona Wildfire

YARNELL, Ariz. (KTLA) — Five of the 19 firefighters who died Sunday battling a central Arizona fire had ties to California.

Sean Misner Grant McKee

Sean Misner, left, and Grant McKee.

Sean Misner, 26, graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County in 2005, the Associated Press reported.

Orange County native Grant McKee, 21, attended Newport Harbor High School, his neighbor said. McKee’s mother told the AP that McKee was training to be an emergency medical technician.

“Grant was one of the most likable people you could ever meet,” Laurie McKee said.

Kevin Woyjeck, 21, was the son of a Los Angeles Fire Department captain. “I … have some solace in knowing that Kevin was doing what he what he truly enjoyed, and that is being a firefighter and helping others,” L.A. County fire Chief Daryl Cosby said Monday.

Billy Warneke, 25, of Hemet, was a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and got his firefighter training on the G.I. Bill.

The job in Arizona was his first assignment, his grandfather, Jack Warneke, told KTLA.

Chris MacKenzie, 30, a 2001 graduate of Hemet High School, was the son of a former Moreno Valley CDF captain, according to the Press Enterprise.

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Chris MacKenzie (left), Bill Warneke, and Kevin Woyjeck

The five men and 14 of their fellow elite firefighters, members of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite County Hotshots, were killed while battling a fast-moving brush fire that has burned more than 6,000 acres and destroyed at least 250 structures.

“This is as dark a day as I can remember,” Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement on Monday.

“It may be days or longer before an investigation reveals how this tragedy occurred, but the essence we already know in our hearts: fighting fires is dangerous work. The risk is well-known to the brave men and women who don their gear and do battle against forest and flame.

“When a tragedy like this strikes, all we can do is offer our eternal gratitude to the fallen, and prayers for the families and friends left behind. God bless them all.”

How you can help:

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, together with Prescott Fire Fighter’s Charities, have established a 501(c)3 relief fund to benefit the families of the fallen killed in the Yarnell Fire. 100% of your tax-deductible donation will go to the families. You can donate at any Chase Bank, in the name of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account, #987218757.

Billy Warneke, 25, was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April.

He and his wife, Roxanne, were expecting their first child in December, his grandmother, Nancy Warneke, told the newspaper.

A tribute to the firefighters grew Monday outside Prescott Fire Station No. 7. Flowers, American flags and signs — including those reading “19 Great guys gone — you will be missed” and “Prescott 19 forever in our hearts” — were placed on or near a fence that separated the station from a road.

Kevin Woyjeck, of Seal Beach, Billy Warneke and Chris MacKenzie, both of Hemet, were identified Monday as three of the 19 firefighters killed battling the Yarnell Hill brush fire outside Prescott, Ariz. Woyjeck, Warneke and MacKenzie were part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite squad who confronted wildfires up close.

YARNELL, Ariz. (KTLA) — Kevin Woyjeck, of Seal Beach, Billy Warneke and Chris MacKenzie, both of Hemet, were identified Monday as three of the 19 firefighters killed battling the Yarnell Hill brush fire outside Prescott, Ariz.

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Chris MacKenzie, Bill Warneke and Kevin Woyjeck

Woyjeck, Warneke and MacKenzie were part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite squad who confronted wildfires up close.

“Our entire crew was lost,” Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo told reporters Sunday night.

“We just lost 19 of some of the finest people you’ll ever meet. Right now, we’re in crisis.”

The other firefighters killed in Yarnell were Anthony Rose, 23; Eric Marsh, 43; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted , 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; Jesse Steed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; John Percin, 24; Scott Norris, 28; and Andrew Ashcraft, 29.

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The Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot crew of Prescott, Ariz.

The death toll among firefighters battling a brush fire was the largest since 1933, when 25 were killed fighting a fire in Griffith Park.

Woyjeck, the son of veteran L.A. County Fire Department Capt. Joe Woyjeck, had hoped to become a firefighter in the L.A. area like his dad, according to family members.

The 21-year-old joined the Prescott unit just three months ago.

Woyjeck, an avid outdoors-man, always wanted to be a firefighter like his father, Joe Woyjeck told “Anderson Cooper 360″ on Monday evening.

Joe Woyjeck said he last talked to his son by phone on Sunday morning.

“He said, ‘Dad, we got a fire in Yarnell, Arizona. I’ll give you a call later,’” the elder Woyjeck said.

He said it hasn’t sunk in yet that he won’t get that phone call.

“Words can’t describe the loss that our family is feeling right now,” Joe Woyjeck said.

Kevin Woyjeck wasn’t the only firefighter’s son in the Granite Mountain crew.

Chris MacKenzie, 30, a 2001 graduate of Hemet High, was the son of former Moreno Valley CDF Captain Mike MacKenzie, according to the Press Enterprise.

Billy Warneke, 25, was a four-year Marine Corps veteran who served a tour in Iraq and had joined the hotshot crew in April.

He and his wife, Roxanne, were expecting their first child in December, his grandmother, Nancy Warneke, told the newspaper.

Click here for more information on the Yarnell Hill fire on CNN.com.

How you can help:

The United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association, together with Prescott Fire Fighter’s Charities, have established a 501(c)3 relief fund to benefit the families of the fallen killed in the Yarnell Fire. 100% of your tax-deductible donation will go to the families. You can donate at any Chase Bank, in the name of the United Phoenix Fire Fighters Association Account, #987218757.

YARNELL, Ariz. (KTLA) Kevin Woyjeck, of Seal Beach, and Chris MacKenzie, of Hemet, were identified Monday as two of the 19 firefighters killed battling the Yarnell Hill brush fire outside Prescott, Ariz.
Read more: http://ktla.com/2013/07/01/18-firefighters-dead-in-arizona/#ixzz2XpL8Jpww

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