Family: One of Yarnell Hill Fire victims was father of 4

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on July 1, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 1 at 2:12 PM

PHOENIX -- While the Prescott Fire Department has not released the names of the 19 firefighters who died while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire Sunday, relatives of one of those firefighters -- Andrew Ashcraft -- gave 3TV's Natalie Brand a family photo

Ashcraft, a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, leaves behind a wife, Juliann, and four children. Juliann, like many members of the other firefighters' families, visited the growing memorial at Prescott Fire Station No. 7, the home of the Granite Mountain Hotshot.

He and all but one of his team died while battling the wind-whipped blaze.

Ruben Vine and Samantha Schaefer of The Los Angeles Times identified three Southern California natives as part of the ill-fated Granite Mountain Hotshots -- Kevin Woyjeck, 21, of Seal Beach, and Hemet natives Billy Warneke, 25 (no relation to April Warnecke), and Chris MacKenzie.

Firefighting was the family business for Woyjeck and McKenzie, both of whom followed in their fathers' footsteps.

According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Warneke (again, no relation to April Warnecke) recently bought property in Prescott near his sister's home.  A Marine Corps. veteran, he had only been with the hotshots since April. Warneke's wife is expecting the couple's first child in December.

The sole survivor of the crew was moving the unit's truck when massive flames swept over his team, said Arizona Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling.

The Prescott Fire Department has not released the names of any of the firefighters, but one reportedly is a third-generation firefighter. Several, like Ashcraft, have children.

The Yarnell Hill Fire started with a lightning strike Friday afternoon. Sunday morning, it was relatively small -- about 200 acres. High winds whipped up the flames late Sunday afternoon, causing the fire to grow to 2,000 acres, destroy at least 50 homes and threaten hundreds more.

The firefighters were caught when the fire suddenly changed direction and trapped them as they tried to deploy their emergency fire shelters. It's still not clear exactly what happened out there.

Just a week ago, the Granite Mountain Hotshots received accolades for their work on the Doce Fire.

A memorial service will take place Monday at 4 p.m. at the Activity Center, Building 83 on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. The service is open to the public.

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