Arizona, Families of 19 Dead 'Hotshots' Reach Deal

State also promises more training after tragic 2013 deaths of elite firefighters
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2015 9:48 AM CDT
Ariz., Families of 19 Dead 'Hot Shots' Reach $600K+ Deal
Juliann Ashcraft, wife of Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, left, embraces Roxanne Warneke, wife of Granite Mountain Hotshot Billy Warneke, as they listen to Arizona AG Mark Brnovich.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the deaths of 19 elite firefighters in an out-of-control Arizona wildfire, and it also brings a measure of closure as the state of Arizona announced today it has settled two lawsuits against the state's Forestry Division for more than $600,000 to the families of the victims, the New York Times reports. Twelve of the Granite Mountain Hotshots families who filed a wrongful-death lawsuit will receive $50,000 each, while the seven families who didn't join that suit will receive $10,000 per dependent.

Just as important to the families is an agreement to boost incident firefighter training and study the effects of dry seasons on wildlands, the paper notes. Some family members tell the AP that the suits were never about the money, but about ensuring this kind of tragedy never happens again. "It will never end in my mind or my heart, but it is a start that we will get the change," says the mom of one of the fallen firefighters. "We fully believe that the changes that the forester will do in incident command will save others' lives." (More than one baby has been born to the firefighters' widows.)

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