Before he perished along with 18 other firefighters, Andrew Ashcraft texted his wife a final photograph of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew making camp for lunch as smoke from the Yarnell Hill fire rose in the background. "I'd love to be in a swimming pool right now," the 29-year-old replied after she sent him pictures of their four children at the local pool. His final message was "We could really use a little rain down here" after his 4-year-old daughter told him it was raining.
Ashcraft, who had been on the elite wildfire crew for three years, used to work as an electrical contractor but wanted a more meaningful job, his widow tells the Los Angeles Times. She says she gets some comfort from the fact that the firefighters' remains were transported to the medical examiner's office together, keeping the crew together in death. "There was no outside of work for them," she says. "They loved what they did to the point it was worth it to them being away from the ones they loved to save people and their homes." (Read more Arizona wildfires stories.)