Arizona Hotshot crew remembered by Lubbock firefighters

Reported by: Henry Ramos
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Updated: 7/02/2013 9:45 pm
They are not your typical firefighters in the line of duty. The 19 firefighters killed in that massive inferno near Phoenix are part of an elite service. They work the front lines of dangerous wild and forest fires.

Hotshot crews battle the extremes of fuel and wind driven flames that are unpredictable. They are usually assigned to the danger zone. 
They go where traditional firefighting equipment like pumper trucks and hoses can't reach. They are highly trained and physically fit.

The majority of the 19 firefighters killed Sunday battling the Yarnell wildfire were in the their twenties.
Regional Fire Coordinator Justin Musgraves said, "It's hard to put into words," he said. "Your reaction."

Musgraves said these trained crews are something special.

"Typically 20 guys trained specifically in wild land fires that will hike sometimes miles to a fire over rough terrain and elevation changes," he said. "They will build hand lines to stop the forward progression of the fire using chainsaws, hand tools, shovels, things like that in areas no other method will work."

About a year ago near Fort Davis Musgraves worked side by side with some of the men who perished.

"I can remember eating lunch with those folks," he said. "They are just a stand up group of guys."

As a last resort, Hotshot crews are trained to deploy a tent-like safety shelter what some call a shake-and-bake tent that's what the 19 victims did.

"No way is it guaranteed to save a life, but all it does is reflect some of the radiant heat to allow time for the fire-front to pass," Musgraves said.

They are trained to deploy these tents in about 60 seconds.

Rhea Cooper with Texas A&M Forest Service said, "This particular crew started training to function in 2002 as a team. It's been since 2002 to build up to the level that they are at."

Hotshot crews have been around since the late 1940's. The name Hotshot is derived from these firefighters always being in the hottest part of the blaze. 

Members of the Texas A&M Forest Service honor guard will attend the funerals.
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