Powerful Winds Expected At Ariz. Wildfire - WSPA.com

Powerful Winds Expected At Ariz. Wildfire

Posted: Updated:
Authorities are expecting powerful wind gusts that could make it more challenging to battle an erratic blaze that has killed 19 Arizona firefighters. Authorities are expecting powerful wind gusts that could make it more challenging to battle an erratic blaze that has killed 19 Arizona firefighters.
YARNELL, AZ -

 

Powerful Winds Expected At Ariz. Wildfire
July 2, 2013 at 1:51 p.m.

Authorities are expecting powerful wind gusts that could make it more challenging to battle an erratic blaze that has killed 19 Arizona firefighters.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Wallmann said while 80 mph wind gusts are unlikely, there's potential for stronger winds than those that swept the blaze on Sunday, when the flames overtook 19 Hotshot firefighters. He also said weekend thunderstorms could complicate efforts.

Fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner said higher humidity has tamped the flames down, but they could be stirred up Tuesday by the expected winds.

Southwest Incident Management Team spokeswoman Karen Takai said it remains unclear how many houses have burned, but crews are working to figure out the scope of the destruction.

Details Of Deceased Firefighters Revealed
July 1, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.

 

More than 1,000 people turned out Monday to a Prescott (PREHS'-kiht) university gym to honor the bravery and sacrifice of 19 "Hotshot" firefighters who died battling Arizona's Yarnell Fire.

Those in the crowd rocked children in their arms, wiped away tears and applauded robustly after each set of remarks, often rising to their feet. Speakers quoted heavily from scripture and described the firefighters' deaths as Christ-like.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo spoke in a shaky voice and paused frequently. He said the firefighters' families, the Prescott Fire Department, the city of Prescott, the state of Arizona and the nation have all lost.

At the end of the ceremony, dozens of firefighters sporting Hotshot shirts and uniforms from other jurisdictions marched to the front of the auditorium. They bowed their heads for a moment of silence in memory of their fallen comrades.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz., were killed Sunday when a windblown wildfire overcame them north of Phoenix. It was the deadliest single day for U.S. firefighters since Sept. 11. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s. Here are the stories of some of those who died:

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 fitness-oriented student. 

"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 active."

 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 hard work."

Ashcraft, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was honored to be a member of the Hotshot crew, and "he just had a really sweet spirit about him," Elise Smith, a Prescott, Ariz., resident, told The Deseret News of Salt Lake City.

Ashcraft left behind a wife, Juliann, and four children, the newspaper reported.

TRAVIS CARTER: STRONG AND HUMBLE: At Captain Crossfit, a gym near the firehouse where the Hotshots were stationed, Travis Carter was known as the strongest one out of the crew - but also the most humble.

"No one could beat him," trainer Janine Pereira said. "But the thing about him, was he would never brag about it. He would just kill everyone and then go and start helping someone else finish."

Carter, 31, was famous for once holding a plank for 45 minutes, and he was notorious for making up brutal workouts.

The crew recently did a five mile run during wilderness training, then he made them go to Captain Crossfit in the afternoon for another really hard workout.

"The other guys who came in here always said that even though he was in charge, he was always the first one at the fire, the first one in action," Pereira said.

DUSTIN DEFORD: DRY SENSE OF HUMOR: Dustin DeFord, 24, tried out for the Hotshot crew in January 2012, telling friends on Twitter that he had passed the physical fitness test and asking for prayers as he moved on to the interview stage of the process.

He moved to Arizona from Montana after he was hired, and he worked to improve his skills on the climbing wall at a gym near the firehouse.

"He listened very well. He was very respectful," said Tony Burris, a trainer at Captain Crossfit. "He kind of had a dry sense of humor."

Another trainer, Janine Pereira, echoed that sentiment.

"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."

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.

 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."

 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.

"He played with tremendous heart and desire," Gruendyke said. "He wasn't the biggest or fastest guy on the team but he played with great emotion and intensity."

SCOTT NORRIS: THE 'IDEAL AMERICAN GENTELMAN': Scott Norris, 28, was known around Prescott through his part-time job at Bucky O'Neill Guns.

"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."

JOHN PERCIN JR.: STRONG, BRAVE, AMAZING: He loved baseball and had an unforgettable laugh. In his aunt's eyes, John Percin Jr. was, simply, "an amazing young man."

"He was probably the strongest and bravest young man I have ever met in my life," Donna Percin Pederson said in an interview with The Associated Press from her home in Portland, Ore.

John Percin Sr., declined to comment Monday. "It's not a good time right now."

Percin, 24, was a multisport high school athlete who graduated in 2007 from West Linn High School, southeast of Portland.

Geoff McEvers grew up playing baseball with Percin and remembered Percin as a fun-loving guy with an unforgettable laugh, The Oregonian newspaper reported.

McEvers said he learned about the Percin's death through friends.

"It's already tragic when you hear about those who died," McEvers told the newspaper, "but when you find out it's someone you know personally, it's tough."

ANTHONY ROSE: 'BLOSSOMED' AS FIREMAN: Anthony Rose, 23, was one of the youngest victims. He grew up in Wisconsin and previously worked as a firefighter in nearby Crown King before moving on to become a Hotshot.

Retired Crown King firefighter Greg Flores said Rose "just blossomed in the fire department. He did so well and helped so much in Crown King. We were all so very proud of him."

Flores said the town was planning a fundraiser for Rose and hoped to also have a memorial to honor him.

"He was the kind of guy that his smile lit up the whole room and everyone would just rally around him," he said. "He loved what he was doing, and that brings me some peace of heart."

TRAVIS TURBYFILL: 'BIG, HUGE MARINE': Known as "Turby" among crew members, Travis Turbyfill got a fulltime position with the Hotshots when another member's girlfriend asked him to quit.

Turbyfill, 27, often worked with other Hotshots at Captain Crossfit, a warehouse filled with mats, obstacle courses, climbing walls and acrobatic rings near the firehouse. He would train in the morning and then return in the afternoon with his wife and kids.

Trainer Janine Pereira said she recently kidded Turbyfill for skipping workouts. His excuse was that he wanted to spend some quality time at Dairy Queen.

"He was telling me that it's because it was Blizzard week, and he was just going to eat a Blizzard every night," she said.

Tony Burris, another trainer, said he enjoyed watching Turby with his two daughters.

"Because he's this big, huge Marine, Hotshot guy, and he has two little girls, reddish, blonde curly hair, and they just loved their dad," he 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 reported.

Nancy Warneke said she called her 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."

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.

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 firefighter.

"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.

 - Robert Caldwell, 23

- GrantMcKee, 21

- Wade Parker, 22

- JesseSteed, 36

- Joe Thurston, 32

- Garret Zuppiger, 27

Obama: 'We Are Heartbroken' Over AZ Firefighters
July 1, 2013 at 2:52 p.m.

President Barack Obama says the deaths of 19 firefighters who died battling an Arizona wildfire are a heartbreaking reminder that emergency personnel put their lives on the line every day while rushing toward danger.

Obama, who spoke from Africa on Monday, added that America's thoughts and prayers go out to their families.

He said, quote, "We are heartbroken about what happened."

Obama says his administration is prepared to help Arizona investigate how the deaths happened. He predicted the incident will force government leaders to answer broader questions about how they handle increasingly destructive and deadly wildfires.

The firefighters, members of an elite crew fighting a forest fire northwest of Phoenix, were overtaken Sunday by a fast-moving blazed fueled by hot winds. Some 200 homes also were destroyed.

AZ House Speaker Says Yarnell Heavily Damaged
July 1, 2013 at 2:04 p.m.

Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin say Yarnell was heavily damaged when a deadly wildfire swept through the small town. The same overtook a Prescott-based firefighting crew, killing 19 people.

The Yavapai County Republican was driven through Yarnell late Sunday and says he could see burned structures as well as flames burning in the distance.

Tobin says it was so dark it was impossible to tell how many buildings had been consumed.

Tobin represents Prescott, where the fire crew that was trapped is based.

Tobin says Prescott-area residents either knew the victims or know somebody who did.

He says the Department of Public Safety officer who drove him to Yarnell got a call telling that a friend was one of those killed.

AZ Wildfire Kills 19 Firefighters, 200 Homes Gone
July 1, 2013 at 5:04 a.m.

Fire crews in Arizona are trying to control a blaze that killed 19 elite firefighters and destroyed 200 homes.

The National Weather Service says there's a 30 percent of thunderstorms and showers Monday in the Yarnell area.

Rain could help slow the fire, but the forecast also says the storms could produce gusty winds.
The firefighters were killed Sunday when they tried to use fire-resistant shields to protect themselves from the out-of-control blaze.

Television aerial video footage showed law enforcement vehicles patrolling Yarnell, driving streets with burned buildings on both sides.

An elite crew of firefighters trained to battle the nation's fiercest wildfires was overtaken by an out-of-control blaze in Arizona, killing 19 members as they tried to protect themselves from the flames under fire-resistant shields.

It was the most firefighters killed battling a wildfire in the U.S. in decades.

The lightning-sparked fire, which spread to at least 2,000 acres amid triple-digit temperatures, also destroyed 200 homes and sent hundreds fleeing from Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Residents huddled in shelters and bars, watching their homes burn on TV as flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town.

The disaster Sunday afternoon all but wiped out the 20-member Hotshot fire crew based in nearby Prescott, leaving the city's fire department reeling.

"We grieve for the family. We grieve for the department. We grieve for the city," Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said at a news conference Sunday evening. "We're devastated. We just lost 19 of the finest people you'll ever meet."

The National Fire Protection Association website lists the last wildland fire to kill more firefighters as the 1933 Griffith Park fire of Los Angeles, which killed 29. The most firefighters - 340 - were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, according to the website.

Most people had evacuated from the town, and no injuries or other deaths were reported.
Hotshot crews go through specialized training and are often deployed soon after a fire breaks out. Sometimes they hike for miles into the wilderness with chain saws and backpacks filled with heavy gear to build lines of protection between people and fires. They remove brush, trees and anything that might burn in the direction of homes and cities. This crew had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

As a last-ditch effort at survival, Hotshot crew members are trained to dig into the ground and cover themselves with the tent-like shelter made of fire-resistant material, Fraijo said. The hope in that desperate situation is that the fire will burn over them and they will survive.

"It's an extreme measure that's taken under the absolute worst conditions," Fraijo said.
Nineteen fire shelters were deployed, and some of the firefighters were found inside them, while others were outside the shelters, Mike Reichling, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman, told the Arizona Republic.

Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is home to one of 110 Hotshot crews in the United States, according to the U.S. Forest Service website. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

In 1994, the Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

President Barack Obama called the 19 firefighters heroes and said in a statement that the federal government was assisting state and local officials.

"This is as dark a day as I can remember," Gov. Jan Brewer said in a statement. "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."

Brewer said she would travel to the area on Monday.

As the blaze spread, people started fleeing, including Chuck Overmyer and his wife, Ninabill. They were helping friends leave when the blaze switched directions and moved toward his property. They loaded up what belongings they could, including three dogs and a 1930 model hot rod, on a trailer.

As he looked out his rear view mirror he could see embers on the roof of his garage.
"We knew it was gone," he said.

He later gathered at the Arrowhead Bar and Grill in nearby Congress along with locals and watched on TV as he saw the fire destroy his house.

Two hundred firefighters were working on the fire Sunday, and several hundred more were expected to arrive Monday.

The fire has forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. Fire crews had no containment late Sunday.

The Red Cross has opened two shelters in the area - at Yavapai College in Prescott and at the Wickenburg High School gym.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

 

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Spartanburg County Deputies Looking For Home Detention Escapee

    Spartanburg County Deputies Looking For Home Detention Escapee

    Monday, September 1 2014 9:31 AM EDT2014-09-01 13:31:58 GMT
    Mugshot: Lonnell Norvell Chamblee (Spartanburg Co. Sheriff's Office)Mugshot: Lonnell Norvell Chamblee (Spartanburg Co. Sheriff's Office)
    Spartanburg County Sheriff's deputies are looking for a man who escaped from home detention. According to an arrest warrant issued by the sheriff's office, 21-year-old Lonnell Norvell Chamblee, of Spartanburg, is wanted for escape after he cut off his ankle monitoring bracelet and escaped from the home detention program.
    Spartanburg County Sheriff's deputies are looking for a man who escaped from home detention. According to an arrest warrant issued by the sheriff's office, 21-year-old Lonnell Norvell Chamblee, of Spartanburg, is wanted for escape after he cut off his ankle monitoring bracelet and escaped from the home detention program.
  • Deputies: Powdery Substance Found In Iva Mailbox; Hazmat Responded

    Deputies: Powdery Substance Found In Iva Mailbox; Hazmat Responded

    Monday, September 1 2014 6:22 AM EDT2014-09-01 10:22:45 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    Anderson County Fire, HAZMAT, EMS and Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a powdery substance found in a mailbox in Iva Sunday. 
    According to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, a call came in about a person locating a powder in a mailbox on Continent Road.Once crews arrived on scene, it was determined that the substance had no biological threat. 
    Anderson County Fire, HAZMAT, EMS and Sheriff's Office responded to a call of a powdery substance found in a mailbox in Iva Sunday. 
    According to the Anderson County Sheriff's Office, a call came in about a person locating a powder in a mailbox on Continent Road.Once crews arrived on scene, it was determined that the substance had no biological threat. 
  • Child, Infant Killed After Boat Capsizes

    Child, Infant Killed After Boat Capsizes

    Monday, September 1 2014 4:17 AM EDT2014-09-01 08:17:41 GMT
    Child and Infant Killed After Boat CapsizesChild and Infant Killed After Boat Capsizes
    Anderson County Emergency Officials have recovered the body of an infant in Lake Hartwell after a boat capsized Sunday evening.

    Anderson County Emergency Officials have recovered the body of an infant in Lake Hartwell after a boat capsized Sunday evening.  Deputies tell us a 9 year old child died when a boat overturned.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.