Posted: Aug 7, 2013 5:09 PM by NBC News
Updated: Aug 8, 2013 11:24 AM
PRESCOTT, AZ - A bitter dispute is underway following the Arizona wildfire that claimed the lives of 19 firefighters.
The widow of one of the fallen firefighters is furious about being being denied the lifetime benefits she expected following his death.
Andrew Ashcraft was one of 19 "hotshot" firefighters killed in the Yarnell fire on June 30th.
His widow, Juliann, never expected what would follow his death regarding benefits to help raise their four children.
"This is unfathomable and its disappointing, I've been shocked how city officials have treated my family," she says.
Juliann called a news conference to demand what she believes is just.
All of the families will receive a one time federal pay-out of $328,000 and various other financial and tuition benefits, but the city claims Ashcraft was one of 13 seasonal employees, and not entitled to lifetime health and pension benefits worth millions.
Juliann's battle is part of a growing fight with the Hotshot's families over benefits and who is entitled to what.
Personnel records show that Ashcraft worked a full-time schedule, but the city says he wasn't classified, "full time," and didn't pay into the system that provided lifetime survivor benefits.
Ashcraft says she feels abandoned.
"It is a terrible tragedy and the bigger tragedy is in the fact that the people that can make it right aren't making it right," she says.
Prescott officials canceled a news conference Wednesday, but issued a statement earlier saying they were being "wrongly accused of failing to provide survivor benefits to the families of the seasonal fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots."
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