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Posted: 10:18 p.m. Monday, July 1, 2013
By Trish Williford
CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Fallen firefighter Eric Marsh grew up in Ashe County and his family told Channel 9 that even at a young age, Marsh knew he wanted to fight fires like the one in Arizona. His family said he died doing exactly what he loved. "We're all in shock and you never expect anything like this," said uncle Robert Marsh. Marsh said his nephew was one of the bravest men he knew. Robert Marsh said he learned of Eric Marsh's death Monday morning while having breakfast. "People were talking about the incident; we said surely it wasn't Eric's team. We got home and my brother had left the message that sure enough it was," Robert Marsh said. His uncle said 43-year-old Eric Marsh graduated from Ashe Central High and Appalachian State University. Robert Marsh says Eric's love for fighting fires began many years ago. "He spent his summers in Arizona working with fire teams and then after college he spent time with the National Forest Service out there during fire seasons," his uncle said. Robert Marsh said right after college Eric moved to Arizona and helped form his own team -- the Granite Mountain Hotshots. For weeks, the group trained extensively for countless hours in 100-degree heat. His family said the fearless 19 were truly the best of the best. "They go into an area and try to establish a fire line so that other firefighters, less trained, came come in and have a safer way to battle the fires," Robert Marsh said. That's exactly what Marsh's team was doing Sunday night. Officials said a lightning storm caused several small fires near Yarnell, Ariz. The high winds and scorching 101-degree heat only made the situation worse. Officials said Marsh and his 18 team members were in attack mode but were overcome by the fast moving wildfire. The group retreated to their portable emergency shelter, but it was too late. The blaze roared through the area, and Marsh and his teammates were killed. "(I'm) very proud, 'cause they put their lives on the line to help save other people and their property and their lives," Robert Marsh said.
To see the memorial Facebook page for the Granite Mountain Hotshots, click here.
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