SEAL BEACH (CBSLA.com) — One of 19 firefighters killed in a Arizona wildfire was a Seal Beach native, local officials said Monday.
Kevin Woyjeck, son of Los Angeles County Fire Captain Joe Woyjeck, was killed Sunday in the fast-moving Yarnell Fire in central Arizona, the LA County Fire Department said.
A third generation firefighter, Kevin Woyjeck had been around the fire station since he was a baby.
“When Kevin was born, we brought him to the fire station,” Capt. Woyjeck told CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen. “These are the guys I still work with today.”
The 21-year-old Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew member was a former LACoFD Explorer and worked as an EMT for Care Ambulance Service, Fire Inspector Tony Akins said.
Woyjeck attended Los Alamitos High School and Santa Ana College. He graduated from El Camino Fire Academy last November and took the job in Arizona to gain experience in hopes of some say joining the LA County Fire Department like his father.
On Monday night, Woyjeck’s 16-year-old sister Maddie joined friends at Seal Beach Pier in a candlelight vigil.
“My parents lost a son, my brother lost his best friend, and I lost my guardian angel,” she said.
“It was his dream to become a firefighter and he was working very hard to accomplish this dream. He was following his father’s footsteps. He was doing everything he could to become a professional firefighter, so he took a job out of Prescott as a seasonal firefighter,” Woyjeck family friend and LA County Fire Inspector Keith Mora told KNX 1070.
Capt. Woyjeck said he and his son worked together nearly two years ago, when Kevin was working for a private ambulance company and Capt. Woyjeck for county fire.
“He was on the ambulance crew and I was the fire captain,” his father said. “It was a huge day for me.”
The LA County Fire Department is planning to offer any aid needed to the family as well as a local memorial service for Woyjeck.
“Firefighting is a dangerous profession. We try to take all precautions. We train as much as possible, but sometimes the unexpected can occur and this is just a really sad day for firefighters throughout,” Mora said.
Flags are at half-staff at fire stations across Southern California. Funeral arrangements will be announced as soon as they are finalized.
Sunday’s tragedy is the worst firefighting loss since September 11th.