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Widow of firefighter killed in Arizona fighting with employer over benefits

Published: Friday, Aug. 9 2013 2:25 p.m. MDT

Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft and three of their four children. Andrew was among the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. (Double Scoop Photography) Andrew and Juliann Ashcraft and three of their four children. Andrew was among the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. (Double Scoop Photography)

A mother of four and widow of one of the 19 Hotshot firefighters killed in Yarnell, Ariz., is battling with the city of Prescott over the monetary relief she expected to receive after tragically losing her husband in June.

CBS News reports that Juliann Ashcraft, the wife of the late Andrew Ashcraft, has been denied the benefits that she was expected to receive as a widow of a full-time employee.

"I want to be able to just be mourning my husband, be supporting my children, be figuring out what our new normal is," Ashcraft told CBS News.

According to CBS, "All 19 hotshot families will receive worker's compensation and a one-time federal payment of $328,000. But the city insists Ashcraft and 12 others were seasonal employees and are therefore not entitled to the lifetime salaries and health benefits worth millions given to the six full-time Hotshots."

Juliann Ashcraft, an LDS wife and mother was featured on Juliann Ashcraft, an LDS wife and mother was featured on "The Today Show" CBS News, discussing her heroic husband, two days after learning of his death. (Facebook)

CBS News also "obtained paperwork that shows Ashcraft did earn a full-time salary. The local firefighters union said of the 13 hotshots denied full benefits, Andrew Ashcraft was the only one to work 40 hours a week year round."

City officials released a statement saying, "The city has fully complied with all of the laws and employment policies that direct survivor benefits."

Ashcraft said she may file a lawsuit if the issue isn't resolved.

"Quite literally, my bills are being paid by the good people of the world who are giving donations, because the city of Prescott isn't doing anything for us," she told CBS. "Now I have four kids and myself, and I don't know what I'm going to do."

Firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, Ariz., cut a fire line. (Associated Press) Firefighters from the Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, Ariz., cut a fire line. (Associated Press)

Editor's Note: The original version of this story posted on Aug. 9, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was revised on Oct. 8, 2013, to attribute original source material.

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