Cover Story: 19 Firefighters Killed In Yarnell, AZ, Wildfire

On June 30, 2013, the worst tragedy to occur in 80 years in wildland firefighting claimed the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots in a fire near Yarnell, AZ. Another firefighter who was acting as a lookout, and who was not with the main group, survived.

The 19 firefighters who died are: Andrew Ashcraft, 29, Robert Caldwell, 23, Travis Carter, 31, Dustin Deford, 24, Christopher MacKenzie, 30, Eric Marsh, 43, Grant McKee, 21, Sean Misner, 26, Scott Norris, 28, Wade Parker, 22, John Percin Jr., 24, Anthony Rose, 23, Jesse Steed, 36, Joe Thurston, 32, Travis Turbyfill, 27, William Warneke, 25, Clayton Whitted, 28, Kevin Woyjeck, 21 and Garret Zuppiger, 27.

Apparently, the fire shelters were deployed, but not all of the firefighters were found inside them. The fire was the worst to claim so many wildland firefighters since 1933. The Hotshots crew was assigned to the fire. The fire was sparked on June 28 by lightning and spread rapidly. On June 30, the firefighters apparently were caught between changing winds and the fire overran their position. The unit belonged to the City of Prescott Fire Department and was made up of career and seasonal firefighters.

A memorial service was held in Prescott, AZ, on July 9. In attendance were Prescott officials, Vice President Joseph Biden, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Homeland Security Secretary (and former Arizona governor) Janet Napolitano and Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). In his remarks, Biden said,“Here’s a great saying – all men are created equal, but then a few became firefighters. Thank God for you all. Thank God for your willingness to take the risk you do. We all owe you. We also owe your families, to my left and my right, because you supported them. You supported these Hotshots.”