Kelly pointed out to us today that when she read our article about the “tar balls” that were discovered in smoke from the Las Conchas Fire and followed the link to other articles tagged “Las Conchas Fire”, she recognized a name, Andrew Ashcraft.
He was one of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed June 30, 2013 on the Yarnell Hill Fire.
One of the articles with the “Las Conchas” tag had a photo that was taken by Mr. Ashcraft. In 2011 he sent us three photos that he took at the fire, apparently using his cell phone. Even though it was four months after the fire, we published one of them on October 17, 2011, the day he sent them to us. It is the one at the top of this article. The other two are below.
He was 29 when he died, in his third season with the Granite Mountain Hotshots after having won Rookie of the Year honors in 2011. He loved running a chain saw.
According to the New York Times, on the evening of June 29 “he returned home from two weeks fighting another fire, arriving just in time to tuck the children into bed. The next morning at 5:20, he kissed his wife goodbye and headed back to the station.” That was the last time they saw each other, but he texted her several times that day, and attached photos of the fire he took with his cell phone.
We embedded a very moving interview with his wife on July 2. She is now a single mother of four children all under the age of six. The Daily Mail has a long article about the tragedy, with much of it being about the Ashcraft family. The story has a copy of another cell phone photo Mr. Ashcraft took that you probably have seen — the one of the Yarnell Hill Fire that he texted to his wife about an hour or so before the 19 firefighters were overrun by the fire.