Bodies of firefighters killed in Arizona returning home

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. - The bodies of two firefighters with Southern California roots who were killed while battling an Arizona wildfire will be flown home today for a ceremony in Los Alamitos.

The ``Memorial Ramp Ceremony,'' which was being coordinated in part by the California Fire Foundation's Last Alarm Service Team, will be held at the Joint Forces Training Base for 21-year-old Kevin Woyjeck and 30-year-old Christopher MacKenzie.

MacKenzie, who was raised in the San Jacinto Valley, graduated from Hemet High School in 2001.

Firefighters will escort their bodies to mortuaries in preparation for funeral services. MacKenzie will be taken to the Miller Jones Mortuary in Hemet, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, while Woyjeck will be taken to Forest Lawn in Long Beach.

Services for MacKenzie are 6 p.m. Saturday at the Ramona Bowl, 27400 Ramona Bowl Road, Hemet. Details of services for Woyjeck have not yet been released.

The two were among 19 firefighters with the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew, an elite wildland firefighting unit, who died near Yarnell, Ariz., June 30 in the worst wildland firefighting loss in the U.S. since the 1933 Griffith Park Fire in Los Angeles, where 29 firefighters were killed.

Woyjeck was the son of Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Joe Woyjeck. He was a former member of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Explorer Post 9, and worked with Care Ambulance Service in Southern California.

MacKenzie started his career as a seasonal firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, and served on the Tahquitz crew in the San Jacinto National Forest. He then served on a helicopter crew for the Bureau of Land Management and the Mill Creek hotshots in the San Bernardino National Forest. He was invited to apply to the Granite Mountain hotshot crew by Aaron Stevens, one of his former captains, and had just started his third season as a full-time employee with the Prescott Fire Department as a lead crew member, according to Cal Fire.

The California Emergency Management Agency and the state National Guard were also coordinating the ceremony.

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