5 Of The 19 Firefighters Killed in Arizona Had Ties To California
Five of the 19 firefighters who perished in a devastating Arizona wildfire had ties to California, including two who attended Hemet High School.
Kevin Woyjeck, 21, of Seal Beach, was the son of Los Angeles Fire Department captain Joe Woyjeck. His goal was to one day join the Los Angeles County Fire Department, just like his dad, according to NBC News. "I have some solace in knowing that Kevin was doing what he what he truly enjoyed, and that is being a firefighter and helping others," L.A. County fire Chief Daryl Cosby, who'd known Woyjeck since he was a boy, said Monday.
Billy Warneke, of Hemet, was a 25-year-old Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and got his firefighter training on the G.I. Bill. The job in Arizona was his first assignment, his grandfather, Jack Warneke, told KTLA.
Chris MacKenzie, 30, graduated from Hemet High School in 2001. He was the son of a former Moreno Valley CDF captain, according to the Press Enterprise.
Sean Misner, 26, graduated from Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in Santa Barbara County in 2005, the Associated Press reports. He came from a family of firefighters in Montecito, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. He had been married less than one year and he leaves behind a pregnant wife.
Grant McKee, 21, attended Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach. McKee's mother told the AP that McKee was training to be an emergency medical technician. "Grant was one of the most likable people you could ever meet" said Laurie McKee.
The five men were members of the Prescott Fire Department's Granite County Hotshots. They were killed battling a fast-moving brush fire that quickly overwhelmed them.
"I hugged my (other) son a lot," Laurie Goralski, Chris MacKenzie's mother, told the Press Enterprise yesterday. "We put our arms around each other and cried."
Jack Warneke and his wife Nancy, grandparents to Billy Warneke, saw the fire on the news and called Nancy's sister, who lives in Arizona. "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."