Yarnell 19 widow speaks out about Prescott denying benefits

Yarnell 19 widow speaks out about Prescott denying benefits

By Justin Schecker. CREATED Aug 7, 2013

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - It has been barely more than a month since the Yarnell Hill Wildfire took the lives of  the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighters and now a benefits battle is brewing with the City of Prescott.

Juliann Ashcraft's husband Andrew is one of the 19 men who died battling the wildfire. She's left to raise four children alone and says she's worried how she's going to make ends meet.        

Ashcraft will speak to the media Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. about how Prescott has denied her family the lifetime benefits of her fallen husband. 

Those benefits include continued health care for her four young children and a yearly pension payment equal to the firefighter's salary.

Andrew worked full-time hours, but the city said he and 12 other Hotshots were seasonal employees, so they don't qualify for the lifetime benefits.

The issue of benefits also came up at a Prescott City Council meeting Tuesday night after the council decided to continue the Hotshot team. 

The city is still sorting out funding issues, but In the next two weeks, the fire chief will start accepting applications.

Family members of the fallen 19 firefighters attended the meeting, with some saying it would have been a slap in the face to not recruit new members. 

Amanda Marsh, who lost her husband Eric, just wanted to thank the council for continuing her husband's team. But when the council wouldn't let her speak because of meeting protocol, she still forced her way to the podium.  

"And I also want to tell you, thank you so much for publishing my benefits in the paper," Marsh said. "That was really nice. And it makes a widow who lives by herself feel so safe. Thank you."

City council members told KGUN9's sister station in Phoenix they're willing to talk to Marsh about her concerns with the publishing of her benefits.