Payouts could be delayed until 2014 for hotshot families - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Payouts could be delayed until 2014 for hotshot families

Posted: Updated:
(CBS 5) (CBS 5)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

Three charities raised around $8 million they said would 'go directly to the families of those 19 firefighters' who died fighting a wildfire on Yarnell Hill in late June.

In late August, those 19 families have only seen a quarter of those donations.

"We will possibly disburse the money in December, but I think it could go into 2014," Phoenix firefighter Russ Kirk said.

Kirk is one of five serving on a board created by two of the charities: the United Phoenix Firefighters Association and the Prescott Firefighters Charity. Combined, the two charities have raised nearly $5 million in donations. 

"When these funds were donated we were facing a maze of tax complexity," certified public accountant Matt Holdsworth said.

Holdsworth says since the federal government denied Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's request to declare the fire a national emergency, donations lost their tax-exempt status. Accountants like himself are now working with Kenneth Feinberg.

Feinberg was appointed Special Master of the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund as well as administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Victim Compensation Fund. Feinberg has also played a role in administering payments to the victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the Aurora Victim Relief Fund and served as an advisor to The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation.

Feinberg's latest task is assisting these charities in distributing donations to the Granite Mountain Hotshot families. Each family, with different needs.

Once accountants, attorneys and the board make the donations tax-exempt, they will then need to figure out how to distribute that money.

"We're grateful for everything," Juliann Ashcraft said. "Regardless of the distribution every penny, we're grateful for everything."

Ashcraft's husband, Andrew, was one of the 19 Granite Mountain hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire. Each of the charities have been working closely with Ashcraft and the other families to determine how to split the donations.

"That's the biggest problem right now," chairwoman of Prescott Firefighter's Charities, Billie Denike said.

Most of the $8 million donated sits in an account at a Prescott bank, untouched by the families that money was meant for. However, each charity claims every penny will get to those families eventually.

The 100 Club has already begun dispersing donations, cutting checks to those families for funeral expenses, bills and debt.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook andTwitter.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

  • LOCALLOCALMore>>

  • State auditor's office begins review of Hattiesburg audit

    State auditor's office begins review of Hattiesburg audit

    Monday, July 14 2014 6:46 PM EDT2014-07-14 22:46:49 GMT
    The state auditor's office has begun the process of reviewing the city of Hattiesburg's annual audit, according to spokesperson Brett Kittredge. "There were some serious findings, and that's why theyMore >>
    A letter dated July 11to auditor Stacey Pickering from council president Kim Bradley said the independent review was sought "to verify the audit findings and to determine whether the qualified opinions are merited."More >>
  • Oak Grove 8U Cal Ripken Baseball State Champions

    Oak Grove 8U Cal Ripken Baseball State Champions

    Thursday, July 24 2014 1:47 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:47:16 GMT
    This is a news release from the Cal Ripken baseball champs. The Oak Grove 8U Nationals are back to back Cal Ripken Baseball State Champions. This team of young baseball players won their District andMore >>
    The Oak Grove 8U Nationals are back to back Cal Ripken Baseball State Champions. This team of young baseball players won their District and State Tournaments as well as four All Star Warm-up tournaments counting for a 43-2 overall record in two years of All Star Baseball.More >>
  • National Guard's 155th ABCT hosts exercise for top Army officials

    National Guard's 155th ABCT hosts exercise for top Army officials

    Thursday, July 24 2014 1:43 PM EDT2014-07-24 17:43:06 GMT
    A Mississippi National Guard unit has taken part in a first-of-its-kind training exercise, not only to improve its warfighting skills, but also to improve its chances of surviving future cuts in defenseMore >>
    It involved tanks, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles.More >>