Fallen firefighter's family denied survivor benefits

Linda Lambert places her hand across a plaque hanging on the fence outside the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew fire station in Arizona.

The family of Andrew Ashcraft, one of the Arizona Hotshots killed in a June wildfire, is being denied survivor benefits because he was a part-time employee.

PHOENIX — The mother of one of 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire wants the city of Prescott to provide family survivor benefits reserved for full-time employees.

Deborah Pfingston's 29-year-old son, Andrew Ashcraft, died June 30 with 18 other members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots while working a wildfire around Yarnell. An investigation is ongoing.

Pfingston says city officials promised they would retroactively reclassify the seasonal, temporary employees as permanent so the families could receive additional survivor benefits.

City officials, meanwhile, say they cannot legally reclassify the men as full-time employees posthumously so their families can receive additional benefits, including health insurance.

City spokesman Pete Wertheim says six of the firefighters were permanent employees, while 13, including Ashcraft, were seasonal.

Pfingston plans a news conference for Tuesday in Prescott.

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