A massive wildfire tragically took the lives of 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hill area of Arizona on Sunday. Eric Marsh, 43, the founder of the firefighting Granite Mountain Hotshots, was one among them. Here’s what you need to know about the fallen hero.
1. Eric Marsh Grew Up in Ashe County
Fallen firefighter Eric Marsh grew up in Ashe County, North Carolina and graduated from Ashe Central High School. His family told Channel 9 that Marsh knew at a young age that he wanted to fight fires like the one that took his life in Prescott, Arizona.
His family said he died doing exactly what he loved.
“We’re all in shock and you never expect anything like this,” said his uncle, Robert Marsh. “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.”
2. He Graduated From Appalachian State University
Marsh became hooked on firefighting while studying biology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. After college, he kept working as a firefighter before getting full-time job and settling in Arizona.
“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.
3. He Was a Firefighter for Two Decades
The oldest member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, he was a firefighter for two decades and a part of the crew for eight.
4. He Formed the Granite Mountain Hotshots
Marsh’s father, John Marsh, told The Jefferson Post that he moved to Arizona to help organize the Granite Mountain Hotshots for which he served as its Superintendent.
5. He Was Married
Marsh was married, but had no children.
“He was a great son,” Marsh’s father, John, said. “He was compassionate and caring about his crew. I want to thank the people of Ashe County for their concern.”