FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Casey Cravens has battled fires and saved people’s homes for 13 years. He wasn't able to save his own this past Sunday.
Cravens found his RV burned down at his campsite outside of Flagstaff after working a 14-hour shift fighting the Pipeline Fire. He'd later learn that his two rottweilers, named Ali and Junior, were found dead inside the trailer hours before he had arrived.
“I looked around and Junior and Ali weren’t around,” Cravens said. “I got into the truck and started yelling for Ali, for Junior. No response.”
A locked deadbolt inside the RV is causing questions to arise. Cravens says he always leaves the door and windows open for the dogs when he leaves, but firefighters say they had to force entry into the RV.
“I can tell you that deadbolt was not locked,” said Cravens referencing the front door entrance to the trailer. “They had a way out before we left, and when we got there that deadbolt was locked.”
The Mississippi native said he always left the windows and door open for Ali and Junior when he went to work. They have traveled with him since they were puppies.
Firefighters' account of the blaze
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.
Ali and Junior to stay with Cravens in spirit
Cravens and his two dogs were in New Mexico helping with the Calf Canyon, Crooks, and Hermits Peak fires, before arriving in Flagstaff a week prior.
Cravens said the local Humane Society helped get Ali and Junior get cremated, so they can continue to be with him as he continues to fight fires.
“The locals here went above and beyond for us,” he said. “I can’t thank any one of them enough. I can’t thank a single one too much. I don’t know how I would repay what they have given me.”
The nonprofit Arizona Foothills 911 is in the process of getting Craven a donated trailer for him to keep doing what he loves.
There is also a GoFundMe account set up to help the wildland firefighter get back on his feet.
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