A brewing storm: How fire turned tragic for 19 men

Juliann Ashcraft had just put the kids down for a nap when her cellphone buzzed. It was a text from Andrew, her husband of seven years and, still, her best friend.

“This is my lunch spot,” he wrote beneath a photo of hard-hatted firefighters sitting on boulders, watching smoke rise on the horizon. “too bad lunch was an MRE,” the text concluded.

It was 2:16 p.m. on June 30.

That Sunday morning, Ashcraft and the other 19 members of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew had been deployed to the ranching community of Yarnell to fight yet another wildfire. The crew had barely gotten home from a different blaze when word came that the team was needed again.

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