July 2, 2013

Elite firefighters killed in Ariz. remembered, mourned

The Associated Press

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This undated photo courtesy of the the Woyjeck family shows firefighter, Kevin Woyjeck, right, and his father, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Joe Woyjeck. Kevin Woyjeck of Seal Beach, Calif., was one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew, who was killed Sunday evening above the town of Yarnell, northwest of Phoenix in the nation's biggest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in 80 years. (AP Photo/Woyjeck Family)

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A photo of one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot crew members who were killed fighting a wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday, sits at a makeshift memorial outside the crew's fire station on Monday in Prescott, Ariz.

The Associated Press

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Names, ages of killed firefighters

Andrew Ashcraft, 29

Kevin Woyjeck, 21

Anthony Rose, 23

Eric Marsh, 43

Christopher MacKenzie, 30

Robert Caldwell, 23

Clayton Whitted, 28

Scott Norris, 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

William Warneke, 25

John Percin, 24
 

"You would say something to him, and he would respond with a crack, which was funny because he was so shy," she said.

Soon after he interviewed for the Hotshots, DeFord signed up for the Spartan Race, a rugged, eight-mile challenge through the mud and around various obstacles in Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix.

"I am being amazing," he wrote on Twitter, in reference to the race.

Several months later, in June 2012, he tweeted: "First Fire of the season."

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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.

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ERIC MARSH: HOOKED ON FIREFIGHTING

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.

Marsh was married but had no children, said his cousin, Scott Marsh of Pisgah Forest, N.C. His father, John Marsh, told the Jefferson Post newspaper in Jefferson, N.C., that his only child "was a great son."

"He was compassionate and caring about his crew."

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SEAN MISNER: 'TREMENDOUS HEART AND DESIRE'

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.

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Additional Photos

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Unidentified members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew from Prescott, Ariz., pose together in this undated photo provided by the City of Prescott. Some of the men in this photograph were among the 19 firefighters killed while battling an out-of-control wildfire near Yarnell, Ariz., on Sunday, according to Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo.

The Associated Press

  


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