Arizona Hotshot's widow denied benefits, blames city - Tucson News Now

Arizona Hotshot's widow denied benefits, blames city

Juliann Ashcraft, left, the widow of Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, said a fight with the city over their refusal to pay benefits could be soon on her hands. (Source: CBS 5 News) Juliann Ashcraft, left, the widow of Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, said a fight with the city over their refusal to pay benefits could be soon on her hands. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Ashcraft receives a hug after speaking in Prescott on Wednesday. (Source: CBS 5 News) Ashcraft receives a hug after speaking in Prescott on Wednesday. (Source: CBS 5 News)
Supporters of the families of the fallen Prescott 19 show their displeasure with city officials at Ashcraft's news conference. (Source: CBS 5 News) Supporters of the families of the fallen Prescott 19 show their displeasure with city officials at Ashcraft's news conference. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

A Granite Mountain Hotshot widow is gearing up for a fight against Prescott city officials.

She said her family is owed her husband's benefits but the city isn't paying up because he was classified as a seasonal worker.

"Everyone says every day will get better and in fact every day gets harder," said Juliann Ashcraft at a news conference in Prescott Wednesday.

She lost her husband, 29-year-old Andrew Ashcraft, to the Yarnell Hill Fire that also claimed the lives of 18 other Hotshots on June 30.

"I have four small children that now I've got to find a way to provide for them because my husband giving the ultimate sacrifice, in the city's eyes, wasn't enough to seal the deal that we'll be given health benefits, that we'll be given his salary moving forward," Juliann Ashcraft said.

She said the might have classified her husband as a seasonal worker, but that wasn't the case.

"He was a full-time employee. He worked full-time hours. He had a full-time responsibility. He had a full-time salary. There is no way that I can fathom how the city is justifying him as seasonal or part-time," Ashcraft said.

Hotshot leader Eric Marsh's widow, Amanda, remembers her husband talking about how Prescott officials held back on Andrew Ashcraft when he became full-time.

"He was very upset with the city. He was very upset with the entire City Council because they made it so hard for him to get benefits for that position," Amanda Marsh said.

Ashcraft said a fight with the city could be soon on her hands.

"I will do anything that I can to fight for the other 13 men that they're classifying as seasonal because they have lives and families and they gave the ultimate sacrifice for our community," she said.

Ashcraft has retained a lawyer and said she wants to resolve this issue without having to bring a lawsuit. But she is still exploring that option.

Prescott city officials were going to have a news conference after Ashcraft's, but they canceled. CBS 5 News has reached out to them for comment.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting). All rights reserved.

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