Charities raise nearly $8M for fallen firefighters' families - KMSP-TV

Charities raise nearly $8M for fallen firefighters' families

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PRESCOTT, Ariz. -

It's been close to two months since 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

Nearly $8 million total was raised by the 100 Club of Arizona, United Phoenix Firefighters and Prescott Firefighters Charities for the families of the hotshots.

"The support from the community has been incredible. It has restored my faith in humanity," says Claire Caldwell, widow of hotshot Robert Caldwell.

"I would like to say that there are no words that could express the gratitude that my family and all of the families of the 19 men have. It's just been an overwhelming show of support. And it humbles me," says Ron Parker, father of hotshot Wade Parker.

The 100 Club of Arizona raised about $3M alone, executive director Sharon Knutson-Felix announced.

The charities now have the task of figuring out the best way to distribute the money.

"It's gonna take some time. We don't want this to be a burden on the families, we want this to help the families and that's our main goal is the families," says Russ Kirk of United Phoenix Firefighters.

A five-person board was created decide how to make the money distribution fair and easy on the families. Russ Kirk is one of the panel members.

One thing they are considering if a firefighter's family should get more money if they left behind a child or children.

Juliann Ashcraft, who lost her husband Andrew and is now raising their four kids, says she is grateful for whatever help they get no matter the amount.

"I'm okay with however. I mean I'm overwhelmed with gratitude, it makes no difference to me in distribution -- I just want to say thank you to anyone who's done anything for us."

"It will be nice when we get that money, but it's not something that I'm like biting my nails waiting for. No, I trust that the community cares about me, that the state of Arizona cares about me, and I'm not worried about it at all," says Claire Caldwell.

The panel hopes to have at least some of the money distributed to the family by December, but it could go into 2014.

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