PHOENIX — The members of a fallen Prescott-based fire crew were identified Monday afternoon.
The names of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed are below. Their ages range between 21 and 43.
Andrew Ashcraft, age 29
Anthony Rose, age 23
Christopher MacKenzie, age 30
Clayton Whitted, age 28
Dustin Deford, age 24
Garret Zuppiger, age 27
Grant McKee, age 21
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
John Percin, 24
Kevin Woyjeck, age 21
Eric Marsh, age 43
Robert Caldwell, age 23
Scott Norris, age 28
Sean Misner, age 26
Travis Carter, age 31
Travis Turbyfill, age 27
Wade Parker, age 22
William Warnecke, age 25
All of the crew members were transported posthumously to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office. They were met by a giant American flag.
The Yarnell Hill Fire has burned more than 8,300 acres and destroyed up to 200 homes, officials said. It has zero percent containment.
Here are the stories of some of those who died Sunday in the blaze:
KEVIN WOYJECK: FOLLOWING IN HIS FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
For 21-year-old Kevin Woyjeck, the fire station was always a second home. His
father, Capt. Joe Woyjeck, is a nearly 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County
Fire Department. Keith Mora, an inspector with that agency, said Kevin often
accompanied his dad to the station and on ride-alongs, and always intended to
follow in his footsteps.
“He wanted to become a firefighter like his dad and hopefully work
hand-in-hand,” Mora said Monday outside of the fire station in Seal Beach,
Calif., where the Woyjeck family lives.
Mora remembered the younger Woyjeck as a “joy to be around,” a man who always
had a smile on his face. He had been trained as an EMT and worked as an
Explorer, which is a mentorship training program to become a professional
“He was a great kid. Unbelievable sense of humor, work ethic that was not
parallel to many kids I’ve seen at that age. He wanted to work very hard.”
As he spoke, Mora stood before an American flag that had been lowered to
half-staff. His own fire badge was covered with a black elastic band, a show of
respect and mourning for those lost in the line of duty.
CHRIS MACKENZIE: ‘JUST LIKE HIS DAD’
An avid snowboarder, 30-year-old Chris MacKenzie grew up in California’s San
Jacinto Valley, where he was a 2001 graduate of Hemet High School and a former
member of the town’s fire department. He joined the U.S. Forest Service in 2004,
then transferred two years ago to the Prescott Fire Department, longtime friend
Dav Fulford-Brown told The Riverside Press-Enterprise.
MacKenzie, like at least one other member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, had
followed his father into firefighting. Michael MacKenzie, a former Moreno Valley
Fire Department captain, confirmed that he had been informed of his son’s death.
“I can’t talk about it,” he said.
Fulford-Brown, also a former firefighter, feared for the worst as soon as he
heard the news of the Arizona firefighters. “I said, `Oh my God, that’s Chris’
crew. I started calling him and calling him and got no answer,” he told The
Press-Enterprise. MacKenzie, he said, “lived life to the fullest … and was
fighting fire just like his dad.”
“He was finishing his credentials to get promoted and loved the people. It’s
an insane tragedy,” Fulford-Brown said.
BILLY WARNEKE: ‘DOING WHAT HE LOVED’
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
Nancy Warneke said she called Billy’s 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.”
SCOTT NORRIS: THE ‘IDEAL AMERICAN GENTLEMAN’
Scott Norris, 28, was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky
“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,” O’Hara said.
ANDREW ASHCRAFT: AN ATHLETIC, GO-GETTER
Prescott High School physical education teacher and coach Lou Beneitone taught
many of the Hotshots, and remembered 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft as a
“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
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
CLAYTON WHITTED: HE’D ‘LIGHT IT UP’
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to yarnellfallenfirefighters.com.
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