Thirtymile Fire Memorial

The Thirtymile Fire memorial near Winthrop, Wash.

A longtime Roslyn family will host a memorial Saturday for their son, Tom Craven, and the three other firefighters — Karen FitzPatrick, Devin Weaver and Jessica Johnson — killed in the Thirtymile Fire 20 years ago.

The event, at Mt. Olivet Black Cemetery on Memorial Street in Roslyn, is set to begin with a 4:30 p.m. reception and last until about 6 p.m. It will feature a flag presentation, the national anthem, a prayer, a moment of silence and the presentation of wreaths on the cemetery’s memorial to the firefighters. Scheduled speakers include several Craven family members, state Rep. Tom Dent, Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz and U.S. Forest Service fuels specialist Jason Emhoff, who was seriously burned in the fire.

“It provides a place for people who knew the firefighters or who know firefighters in general to come together as a group and remember the fallen ones,” said Tony Craven, Tom Craven’s brother who was a longtime Forest Service firefighter himself. “It’s an acknowledgment of those who go out on wildfires.”

The Thirtymile Fire, which on July 10, 2001, overtook and killed the firefighters in the Chewuch River Valley north of Winthrop, led to safety-driven changes within the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Natural Resources. Those changes, shifting the risk-assessment calculus of fire crews in the intervening decades, are an apt tribute to the four firefighters killed that day, Tony Craven said. But each of the four — Craven, 30, of Roslyn; FitzPatrick, 18, Johnson, 19, and Weaver, 21, all of Yakima — was more than just a symbol.

FitzPatrick was a devout Christian, who excelled at West Valley High School, both in academics and extracurricular activities like weightlifting, music, photography, soccer and firefighting.

Weaver, shy and polite, was a baseball star at Eisenhower High School and Yakima Valley Community College who had designs on an electrical engineering career.

Johnson, 15 days shy of her 20th birthday when she died, was a student at Central Washington University who loved swimming, visited her parents regularly and planned to work in nutrition science.

Craven, the son of Washington state’s first Black mayor, William Craven, was a football star in high school and college and the first of his family to graduate from college. He was also a father. His children are now 27 and 24, Tony Craven said.

“I always wonder what it would have been like for his kids, having him in their lives,” Tony Craven said.

This story has been changed to correct the spelling of Karen FitzPatrick's last name.

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