John Percin Jr. caught in deadliest firefighter event in 80 years

A 2007 West Linn High School graduate is reported as among the 19 firefighters killed by an Arizona wildfire, called the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. in the last 80 SUBMITTED - Percin

John J. Percin Jr., 24, died Sunday along with 18 other members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots near Prescott, Ariz. The elite squad fights wildfires head-on and is tasked with setting up barriers to stop fires from spreading.

Percin attended Our Lady of the Lake School in Lake Oswego for five years, ending in 2000.

The fire was caused by a lightning strike on Friday. According to wire reports, the wildfire was moving fast and was fueled by dry and hot conditions. On Sunday, winds blew the fire out of control in a forest that is northwest of Phoenix and covered nearly 2,000 acres.

In a news conference, Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said the fire department is grieving the loss of so many of its members. He said the 19 firefighters had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

According to reports, the firefighters had to deploy emergency shelters, which are tent-like structures that are supposed to shield firefighters. They were surrounded by flames near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, according to wire reports.

“One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kind of looks like a foil-type fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said. “Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive. It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”

Percin graduated from West Linn High School in 2007 and was involved in several sports. He is the son of Mary and John Percin Sr. of West Linn and brother of Matt Percin, 22.

According to the Catholic Sentinel, Percin once belonged to Resurrection Parish in Tualatin, where he was confirmed as a teenager. He also attended Our Lady of the Lake School iby: PRESCOTT GRANITE MOUNTAIN HOTSHOTS - This is the final photo Arizona firefighter Andrew Ashcraft texted to his wife before persishing in the Yarnell Hill fire.n Lake Oswego from 1995 to 2000.  

“I remember the family being very active in the school and I remember Johnny being full of energy and I’m so glad that he found his passion as a firefighter and working with such an elite squad. Our thoughts and our prayers are with his family,” said Joan Codd, principal of Our Lady of the Lake School.

According to Rob Holstrom, who was the athletic director at West Linn High School, Percin played basketball his freshman year and possibly his sophomore year.

“It is always difficult when we lose a current or former student but even more so when it is in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family as well as the other families in this time of sorrow,” Holstrom said.

In a statement, the Percin family wrote, “John was a brave and courageous man who never hesitated to put others before himself. He was loved by many, and he will always be remembered. He is an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of his fallen brothers and their families.”

A memorial honoring the 19 firefighters was held Monday evening. On Tuesday, Gov. John Kitzhaber ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff Wednesday in honor of Percin.”

“ I urge all Oregonians to take a moment to remember John, his bravery and his noble sacrifice,” Kitzhaber said.

For ways to help the victims and their families, visit A Facebook memorial page for the firefighters has been created at

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