Four Firefighters From Southern California Killed in Arizona Wildfire | NBC Southern California

Four Firefighters From Southern California Killed in Arizona Wildfire

The men were with an elite firefighting team that was overcome by a wildfire northwest of Phoenix

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    NEWSLETTERS

    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    Three firefighters from Southern California were among 19 killed Sunday as they were overcome by fire during the attack on a 13-square-mile wildfire northwest of Phoenix.

    Kevin Woyjeck, the son of LA County Fire Capt. Joe Woyjeck, was killed Sunday when the fire overcame the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He was 21.

    With tears in his eyes and his voice quavering, Chief Daryl L. Osby, with County of Los Angeles Fire Department, remembered his colleague's 21-year-old son.

    “It truly breaks my heart that I stand here and speak on behalf of my profession and my department, and on behalf of the Woyjeck family,” Osby said at a news conference Monday evening.

    Hemet Grieves Loss of Two Young Firefighters

    [LA] Hemet Grieves Loss of Two Young Firefighters
    The small California town of Hemet lost two of its own to the raging wildfire in southwestern Arizona. The two coincidentally were among the 19 Granite Hill Hotshots team members who perished in the fire. Kim Baldonado reports from Hemet for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sunday, July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    “But I also have some solace that Kevin was doing what he truly enjoyed and that was being a firefighter and helping others.”

    Woyjeck’s friends and colleagues described a young man who was “fun to be around” and “a little bit of a prankster,” said Bill Weston, director of operations.

    “In 21 years, he got a lot of life in,” Weston said.

    Life Devoted to Service Cut Short in Arizona Fire

    [LA] Life Devoted to Service Cut Short in Arizona Fire
    Hemet High School graduate Billy Warneke, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was among the 19 firefighters killed in southwestern Arizona on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Jacob Rascon reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    Woyjeck started out as a Fire Explorer, a training mentorship program, and worked as an emergency medical technician.

    "He was doing everything he could to become a professional firefighter -- he had an extreme work ethic," said Keith Mora, LA County fire inspector. "He was a great great kid. I say kid, but he was a young man at 21 years old."

    Chris MacKenzie, of Hemet, also was killed in the fire fight, his uncle confirmed to NBC4. He was 30.

    Seal Beach Firefighting Community Mourns Loss of Fallen Firefighters

    [LA] Seal Beach Firefighting Community Mourns Loss of Fallen Firefighters
    Kevin Woyjeck was one of the several Southern California firefighters killed in the Arizona wildfire. Orange County firefighters, as well as friends and family remembered Woyjeck as an ambitious man, who had always wanted to be a firefighter. Hetty Chang reports from Seal Beach for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    MacKenzie graduated Hemet High School in 2001 and joined the U.S. Forest Service.

    When he was a teenager, MacKenzie lost 75 pounds, in part, so he could follow his father's footsteps as a firefighter.

    "He really enjoyed it. He loved fighting fire," his mother Laurie Goralski said.

    Hemet High Graduate Among Firefighters Killed in Arizona Wildfire

    [LA] Hemet High Graduate Among Firefighters Killed in Arizona Wildfire
    30-year-old Chris MacKenzie was among one of the 19 firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona’s treacherous wildfire. After graduating from Hemet High School, he joined the U.S. Forest Service before heading to Arizona. Tony Shin reports from Hemet for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    A second Hemet High School graduate was identified Monday afternoon as the third fire victim from Southern California.

    William "Billy" Warneke, 25, is survived by his wife, his highschool sweetheart who is expecting their first child in December, his grandparents said.

    Home videos show a young Warneke donning firefighting gear and climbing ladders into trees, pretending he was battling a blaze.

    Emergency Fire Shelters Are No Sure Thing

    [LA] Emergency Fire Shelters Are No Sure Thing
    Every firefighter knows that their emergency fire shelter is only to be used in a desperate situation. And there is no assurance they will work. The shelter keeps heat away, but is not fire resistant. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    The father-to-be served in the Marines for four years, including on a deployment to Iraq, his grandparents said.

    Also killed in the fire was Sean Misner, 26, of Santa Barbara County. Misner is survived by his wife, who is pregnant, according to NBC affiliate KSBY.

    The bodies of the 19 victims were transported Monday from the mountain on which they died. Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said Monday that all 19 were members of the Hotshots.

    Memorial Held for 19 Fallen Firefighters

    [LA] Memorial Held for 19 Fallen Firefighters
    Residents of Prescott, Arizona gathered Monday evening for a memorial in honor of the 19 firefighters who died battling a wildfire Sunday evening. Many of the victims were in their 20s, and several had ties to Southern California. Robert Kovacik reports from Prescott, Arizona for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on July 1, 2013.
    (Published Monday, July 1, 2013)

    Previous statements indicated 18 of the men were members of the elite firefighting team found late Sunday afternoon with their emergency shelters deployed. The bodies were discovered near Yarnell, a small community about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

    The fire destroyed at least 200 homes and burned more than 13 square miles.

    More Southern California Stories:

    Arizona Fire Tragedy Recalls Griffith Park Fire of 1933

    [LA] Arizona Fire Tragedy Recalls Griffith Park Fire of 1933
    The Arizona wildfire is one of history’s deadliest. A blaze in Griffith Park was one incident that took even more lives in 1933. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Griffith Park for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on July 1, 2013.
    (Published Tuesday, July 2, 2013)

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