Christopher Alan MacKenzie was born on September 12, 1982, in Fontana, California. Chris lived in San Bernardino for three years and then moved to Hemet, California. Chris attended Hemet, Whittier, and Valle Vista Elementary, Dartmouth Middle School, and Hemet High School, where he graduated in 2001.
As a boy, his sense of adventure began to get ahold of him, and he hungered to be active. It was in high school that Chris thrived. There wasn’t a student that didn’t know him. He never was part of any clique; he knew and had friends in nearly all walks of life. Football became his passion, and he played all four years in high school.
After high school, Chris developed a passion for snowboarding and moved to Big Bear, California, where he worked seasonally on a snow blowing crew and eventually as a snowboard instructor.
Before working for the Prescott, Arizona, Fire Department, Chris worked for the Bureau of Land Management on engine and helicopter crews and for the U.S. Forest Service on engine and hotshot crews.
In 2010, Chris was invited by one of his former captains to apply to the Granite Mountain Hotshots. In January 2013, Chris started his third season as a lead crew member with the Granite Mountain Hotshots out of the Prescott City Fire Department in Arizona.
The testament of Chris’s life was not so much in the moments of his journey but more told in the manner in which he lived them. Chris lived his life to the fullest and went places most people dream about. He loved to travel and explore the outdoors. He loved fighting wildfires and told his brother that he saw it as a way to see the most beautiful country in America. But most of all, Chris loved to be with his friends. He cultivated his friendships and received his firefighting teammates as true brothers.
Chris is survived by his father, Michael MacKenzie; mother, Laurie Goralski; brother, Aaron MacKenzie; stepmother, Janice MacKenzie; and stepsisters, Janae Gier and Jill Allison.
On behalf of Chris’s extended family, we all say that Chris never let the negativity of this world get to him. He loved and lived life with a full heart. As his life and career reveal, he embraced the responsibilities of a man, all while maintaining the fun loving heart of a child. Chris’s attitude was infectious; you wanted to be around him, and he would make you laugh. Chris absolutely loved his family, and they loved him.