Prescott may replace fire-fuel crew with contractors

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - Prescott's fire chief says a proposed dissolution of a city crew that removes potential fuel for wildfires would make it highly doubtful that the city will ever replace the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew that lost 19 members to the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013.

The Daily Courier in Prescott reports that Fire Chief Dennis Light offered that assessment during a City Council budget workshop Thursday.

The city has already eliminated the Fire Department's separate wildland division, and Light said replacing the city's seasonal fuel-reduction crew with contractors would eliminate questions about the eligibility for city employee benefits.

Since the 2013 fire, Prescott has dealt with survivor retirement claims from the families of three of the seasonal Hotshots.