Yarnell Hill Fire widow on 50-state thank you tour

Below is an excerpt from an article at Kare11, a tv station in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The website also has a video featuring the Ashcraft family:


“HASTINGS, Minn — The widow of a fallen Arizona hotshot firefighter stopped in Minnesota with her four children as part of a nationwide tour to say thank you to the thousands of people who donated to her family in a time of need.

Juliann Ashcraft, 30, of Queen Creek, Arizona, embarked on the “Be Better” journey last spring in honor of her husband’s legacy and to personally thank the strangers who donated and kept her family afloat after the tragedy.

Andrew Ashcraft, 29, was among the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters who died in Yarnell Hill wildfire two years ago. His silicone wristband, inscribed with the words “Be Better” was recovered in the ashes. Charred and intact, it was one of the few things recovered on Yarnell Hill.

“It liquefied his watch and we didn’t get to see him,” said Ashcraft. “To me, it was a small miracle and tender mercy that the band survived the fire, and it started this desire in me to go ahead and spread that message to be better.”

And that’s when Andrew Ashcraft’s favorite phrase took a stronghold. The “Be Better”, not bitter, motto is now carried for miles as the family’s tour bus, a renovated 1938 Greyhound, stops in all 50 states. Every stop during the nine month journey brings a personal thank you, like the recent visit to the Minneapolis’ Homes for Heroes program,a Minnesota organization that donated to support the firefighter’s families…”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.