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Mississippi firefighter makes his home in Arizona due to compassion from community after tragedy

Casey Craven was fighting the Pipeline Fire, when his RV home burned on Father's Day, killing with two dogs Ali and Junior.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A Mississippi firefighter will now make his home in Arizona after being overwhelmed with compassion from local strangers after tragedy.

Casey Craven lost his RV to a fire that killed his two dogs as he was busy putting his life on the line and saving other people’s houses from the Pipeline Fire near Flagstaff.

Craven is still emotionally recovering from the loss, but a surprise from the members of Arizona Foothills 911 has brought some relief. 

ORIGINAL STORY: An Arizona trailer fire killed a firefighter's two dogs. A locked deadbolt is causing burning questions.

He was at a loss for words as he walked up to a new, fully-equipped RV donated by an anonymous person on Thursday. He took short steps, even stumbled at times, as tears rolled down his face.

Another wave of emotion was waiting for Craven when he opened the door. A couple had agreed to give the wildlands firefighter a new best friend.

“From Bridget and John, meet Liam,” said Sunny Parker as she showed Craven a picture of a six-week-old rottweiler.

Parker runs the non-profit Arizona Foothills 911, where people help their neighbors in emergency situations. This time, that community came together for Craven.

After a few silent seconds, he turned around and gave Parker a big hug. 

“Thank you so much," Craven said with a broken voice.

Credit: 12 News
Liam will be Craven's new dog.

What led to the surprise

On June 19th, Craven worked a 14-hour-shift fighting the Pipeline Fire near Flagstaff.

He had only been in Arizona for a week, after battling wildfires in New Mexico, when he found his home had been burned down with his two dogs, Ali and Junior, inside.

The Summit Fire and Medical Department responded to the scene around 1:30 p.m. on Father’s Day.

The RV trailer was showing smoke, but no flames were visible when firefighters arrived on the scene. Officials noted all the exterior doors were locked, which required crews to force entry into the trailer and put out the fire.

Fire officials are still investigating what caused the fire to ignite.

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Community of support

Ali and Junior were Craven’s world. He’s been heartbroken since the fire.

“I’m still lost every morning,” the firefighter said. “It’s been tough the last several days. Normally I would wake up and have to push the big guy (Junior) off me, but now still scarred.”

Craven said the local Humane Society helped him get their bodies cremated. He plans on taking them with him wherever he goes, just like when they were alive.

Credit: 12 News
Ali and Junior passed away in the fire that destroyed Craven's home.

“I jumped from New Mexico to here with these guys, you would open the door and they would jump out looking for love, I think Liam is going to do the same,” he said.

After the surprise of his future-new-legged friend, Craven got to thank the couple over the phone.

“I knew that you had to have Liam,” she told him. “He’s giving me a piece of my heart. Thank you so much,” he replied.

Craven will have to wait a couple more weeks until Liam can be with him, but the RV will be his home in the next couple of days.

“The RV belonged to my father,” said the daughter of the woman who donated the trailer home. “My mother is happy that is going to another firefighter as we also have a wildlands firefighter in the family.”

The RV needed new tires, and Discount Tire on Carefree Highway donated all five.

Parker is now working on getting Craven a new generator donated.

“You can see that there’s a lot of people that care and it’s amazing,’ Craven said.

There is a GoFundMe account set up to help the wildland firefighter get back on his feet.

VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL: Bombero de Mississippi establece su hogar en Arizona debido a la compasión de la comunidad después de la tragedia

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