Two Cousins Killed in Arizona Fire

Two of the firefighters killed in Arizona on Sunday were cousins, and they had ties to Southern California. One of the cousins grew up in Costa Mesa.

Two of the firefighters killed in Arizona over the weekend were cousins.

According to friends, Robert Caldwell lived in Arizona, but as a crew chief he was able to help his cousin, Grant McKee get a job with the Granite Mountain hotshot crew. McKee signed on just three months ago, soon after graduating from the fire academy.

According to longtime friend Zoltan Teglas, they were two of a kind.

"Fearless, feisty, always like an adrenaline junkie, like a lot of these firefighter guys are just like that," Teglas said.

Four years ago McKee moved out of his grandmother's Costa Mesa home and took off for Arizona. The day before he died he called and told her he had made a life decision.

"He said how tired he is, how exhausted, and how tough this fire is, and how he's really looking forward going back to school, and maybe being a doctor," Teglas said.

Robert Caldwell, 24, was also killed in the Yarnell fire. He'd been married to Claire Caldwell only since November.


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"All I can think about is their last moments, and how devastating it must have been, how scared they must have been, how tough these guys were and how it just ran over them," Teglas said. "That's all I can think about is the last seconds of their lives."

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