Jul 2, 2013 10:17 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Yarnell Hill Fire claims 19 lives, two with ties to Tucson

TUCSON - When 19 firefighters perished in the Yarnell Hill Fire near Prescott on Sunday, it took the lives of two men with local ties.

Garret Zuppiger, 27, is a University of Arizona and Pima Community College alum. He graduated from the Eller College of Management in 2008. Zuppiger grew up in the Phoenix area.

More recently, 25-year-old William "Bill" Warneke finished his fire science studies at PCC in 2012.
Aaron Bartz was a classmate of Warneke's when they went through the fire academy.

"We were all very gung ho. We all wanted to be a firefighter but Warneke was very outgoing. It was really tough to get the guy down," Bartz told News 4 Tucson. "[He] definitely had high spirits all the time.

Warneke was living in Avra Valley, married and expecting his first child. Bartz remembers him, saying he was one of thos guys who was born to do the job.

"You learn a lot about yourself," Bartz said, recalling his time at PCC. "You learn a lot about the people you're with and Warneke was one of those guys that if you needed something, he'd help you out."

For Bartz, it's been especially difficult. Bartz, himself, is a volunteer wild land firefighter and knows the dangers of the job.

"You never prepare for something like that," he said. "You prepare for everything else, but that."


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