Local hot shots remembering their fellow firefighters after 19 men died in the Yarnell Hill Fire.
The hot shot crew said they are like brothers and they couldn’t imagine losing even one in a fire.
“It hits pretty close to home. We have 20 guys on our crew. So 19 guys, it’s pretty much the entire crew,” said Hector Medrano, a Los Padres National Forest hot shot.
The crew mourned the loss of their fellow hot shots in Arizona.
The team is among the youngest and strongest firefighters.
“Our work is classified as arduous work,” said Tyler Sendrak.
They are usually the first on scene, just like the White Fire on Memorial Day.
“We primarily use chainsaws and hand tools to construct the line. The only water that we have is the water that we drink,” said Lucas Grant.
Their job is to remove dry brush that could fuel the fire. They also make it safer for the firefighters coming in behind them.
“Usually they’re working away from the roads where you can’t really bring fire engines. So they’re in the remote areas of the fire,” said Battalion Chief Nic Elmquist with the Los Padres National Forest Fire Department.
Out of the group of 20 hot shots in Arizona, only one survived.
“His heart is probably broken. Those are his brothers, 19 brothers he lost. I know if I lost these guys I’d be heartbroken,” said Medrano.
Since the deadly accident, their family members are even more worried about them.
“It’s pretty hard to get away from all those phone calls, but whenever I can, whenever I’m on the line, when I get a little moment, I try to send them a nice little text letting them I’m alright,” said Sendrak.
It’s a dangerous job and despite the risk, it is their calling.
“I love this job. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” said Sendrak.
The crew continuously train in the classroom and outside to make sure they are ready for the dangerous conditions a wildfire can bring.