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Benefits Decision Could Help Other Survivors Of Granite Mountain Hotshots

An attorney for the widow of the one of the men who died fighting the Yarnell Hill fire says a decision granting her family death benefits could affect other survivors.

Andrew Ashcraft was one of 19 hotshots killed by the blaze in Northern Arizona in June of last year. Ashcraft and twelve of the other firefighters killed were considered part-time employees, meaning their families got much less in death benefits than firefighters who were classified as full-time. Two of the families filed claims that despite their employment status, the men worked full-time hours and that the families deserved full benefits.

This week, the Prescott Public Safety Retirement Board granted Ashcraft’s family full death benefits. His widow Juliann says she’s grateful for the decision, but that she’d trade it for more time with her late husband.

Her lawyer says he thinks the retirement board’s decision could help the families of the other Granite Mountain Hotshots who died also get full death benefits if they haven’t already.

Nick Blumberg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2010 to 2014.