Payouts could be delayed until 2014 for hotshot families - Tucson News Now

Payouts could be delayed until 2014 for hotshot families

(CBS 5) (CBS 5)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

Three charities raised around $8 million they said would 'go directly to the families of those 19 firefighters' who died fighting a wildfire on Yarnell Hill in late June.

In late August, those 19 families have only seen a quarter of those donations.

"We will possibly disburse the money in December, but I think it could go into 2014," Phoenix firefighter Russ Kirk said.

Kirk is one of five serving on a board created by two of the charities: the United Phoenix Firefighters Association and the Prescott Firefighters Charity. Combined, the two charities have raised nearly $5 million in donations. 

"When these funds were donated we were facing a maze of tax complexity," certified public accountant Matt Holdsworth said.

Holdsworth says since the federal government denied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request to declare the fire a national emergency, donations lost their tax-exempt status. Accountants like himself are now working with Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg was appointed Special Master of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund. Feinberg has also played a role in administering payments to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund and served as an advisor to The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

Feinberg's latest task is assisting these charities in distributing donations to the Granite Mountain Hotshot families. Each family, with different needs.

Once accountants, attorneys and the board make the donations tax-exempt, they will then need to figure out how to distribute that money.

"We're grateful for everything," Juliann Ashcraft said. "Regardless of the distribution every penny, we're grateful for everything."

Ashcraft's husband, Andrew, was one of the 19 Granite Mountain hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire. Each of the charities have been working closely with Ashcraft and the other families to determine how to split the donations.

"That's the biggest problem right now," chairwoman of Prescott Firefighter's Charities, Billie Denike said.

Most of the $8 million donated sits in an account at a Prescott bank, untouched by the families that money was meant for. However, each charity claims every penny will get to those families eventually.

The 100 Club has already begun dispersing donations, cutting checks to those families for funeral expenses, bills and debt.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook andTwitter.

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

  • Local newsMore>>

  • Tucson woman pushes for better mental health care after losing family in murder-suicide

    Tucson woman pushes for better mental health care after losing family in murder-suicide

    Sunday, May 28 2017 1:48 AM EDT2017-05-28 05:48:10 GMT

    It's been two years since 37-year-old Leilani Carrillo suffered a devastating blow after five of her family members were killed in an apparent murder-suicide on the south side.

    It's been two years since 37-year-old Leilani Carrillo suffered a devastating blow after five of her family members were killed in an apparent murder-suicide on the south side. Now, she wants to use this tragedy as a way to spread awareness about the seriousness of mental health.

  • Police ID man shot, killed by officers at cemetery in Tucson

    Police ID man shot, killed by officers at cemetery in Tucson

    Saturday, May 27 2017 11:32 PM EDT2017-05-28 03:32:03 GMT
    Joseph Zimmerman, 34, was shot and killed Friday night, according to TPD (Source: Tucson News Now).Joseph Zimmerman, 34, was shot and killed Friday night, according to TPD (Source: Tucson News Now).

    Police in Tucson released new details about a deadly shooting involving police officers on the south side of the city Friday night.. An update from Tucson Police Department Saturday afternoon identified the man who died as 34-year-old Joseph Zimmerman.

    Police in Tucson released new details about a deadly shooting involving police officers on the south side of the city Friday night.. An update from Tucson Police Department Saturday afternoon identified the man who died as 34-year-old Joseph Zimmerman.

  • Group provides heat relief for homeless as summer nears

    Group provides heat relief for homeless as summer nears

    Saturday, May 27 2017 9:36 PM EDT2017-05-28 01:36:18 GMT
    Source: KOLDSource: KOLD

    They are simple steps for survival in the sun, from people whose lives aren’t all that simplistic. "[You] look for water, food, and what not. Yeah, that's about it,” said Kenneth Wells. 

    They are simple steps for survival in the sun, from people whose lives aren’t all that simplistic. "[You] look for water, food, and what not. Yeah, that's about it,” said Kenneth Wells. 

Powered by Frankly