William H. Warneke


  • Firefighter
  • Prescott Fire Department – Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshots
  • Arizona
  • Age: 26
  • Year of Death: 2013

William Howard “Billy” Warneke was born August 13, 1987, in Hemet, California. Billy was an avid outdoorsman from an early age and grew up camping, hunting and fishing with his brothers, Fred and David, and sisters, Melinda and Victoria.  Billy and his brothers spent most weekends in the hills behind their home hiking, target shooting, paintballing and living off of MREs.  Life was simple and rugged– just the way they liked to spend time together.

After graduating from Hemet High School in 2005, Billy fulfilled his first life’s dream at the young age of 17 when he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He deployed twice during his four years of service, including one tour in Iraq. He served with the Second Battalion Fourth Marines, eventually becoming a Scout Sniper.

After leaving the Marine Corps in July 2009, Billy focused on achieving his next dream: becoming a member of a Hotshot fire crew.

He graduated from Pima Community College with an Associate’s degree in Applied Fire Science, then turned his focus to the Hotshots. After completing a rigorous tryout that was both physically and mentally challenging, Billy was selected to join the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew in April 2013.

Sadly, on June 30, 2013 Billy, along with 18 other Granite Mountain Hotshots, died while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona.  Those 19 men will forever be remembered as heroes who died protecting people, animals, homes and the wildlands they all deeply loved.

Billy is remembered as a man who always put his needs behind the needs of those around him, and lived a life devoted to serving others. When asked to describe Billy, family and friends use words such as selfless, confident, heroic, outgoing and courageous. He was never one to shy away from adventure and could often be found hunting or fishing with his trusty canine companion, Scrap, or off-roading in his Jeep in the hills of Arizona.

Billy married his high school sweetheart, Roxanne Lopez, in December 2008. The two made a life together in Marana, AZ. Their first child, Billie Grace Warneke, was born in December 2013. In addition to his wife and siblings, Billy is survived by his mother and stepfather Kathie and Ray Purkey of Homeland, CA, and his father Harry Warneke of Hemet, CA.