California Professional Firefighters

Five Californians Among 19 Fallen Prescott AZ Hotshots

The California fire service is mourning the loss of 19 of the profession’s best and brightest who fell Sunday in Arizona. But for some, the pain is intensely personal.

Five California natives were among the Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died Sunday in a catastrophic burn over of the Yarnell Hills Fire in central Arizona.

  • Kevin Woyjeck, 21, was the son of 30-year veteran LA County Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck. Brother Woyjeck’s fellow L.A. County firefighters say Kevin was a regular with station visits and ride-alongs, and always sought to follow in his father’s footsteps.
  • Chris MacKenzie, 30, grew up in Hemet and, like Woyjeck, sought to follow in his dad’s footsteps. His father was retired CAL FIRE Captain Michael MacKenzie. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service before joining the Prescott Hotshots.
  • Billy Warneke, 25, also grew up in Hemet and served four years in the Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Iraq. He joined the Hotshot crew only a few months ago, and he and his wife Roxanne were expecting their first child in December.
  • Sean Misner, 26, was also expecting a child in the fall. Misner grew up in Santa Ynez, in Santa Barbara County. He was a standout athlete, and was remembered as a determined team player.
  • Grant McKee, 21, was from Orange County and attended Newport Harbor High School until 11th grade.  McKee got the job with the Hotshots through his cousin, Robert Caldwell, who also died in the Yarnell Hills Fire.  

Governor Jerry Brown has ordered that the flags at the State Capitol be flown at half-mast to honor not only the four Californians but all 19 of those who died.

This tragedy reminds us once again of the courage our public safety workers bring to the job every day, and the sacrifices they often have to make to keep the rest of us safe,” Brown said in a statement last night.

READ: Governor Brown’s statement on the fires.

LISTEN: KPCC Interview with Retired Redlands Fire Chief Mel Enslow, recalling the loss of his 20-year-old son Kenny -- a CAL FIRE firefighter -- in 1989.

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