The story of Eric Marsh and the hotshots of the Granite Mountain Crew is one of incredible bravery and sacrifice.
Shimon Peres said: "Find a cause that's larger than yourself and then give your life to it.”
Eric Marsh was 43 in 2013 when he passed away with 18 other members of the hotshot crew who were all fighting for the same cause — to quell and control the destructive path of the Yarnell Hill Fire. In total, 19 perished at the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona on June 30, 2013. The fire, ignited by dry lightning, had begun two days prior.
ERIC MARSH: SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOTSHOTS
Marsh had moved to Arizona eight years before the Yarnell Hill Fire in order to help “organize the unit.”
The Granite Mountain Hotshots formed from the larger Prescott Fire Department in order to focus on and mitigate wildfires. According to sources, the Prescott Fire Department is the oldest in the state of Arizona.
Sources with Arizona State Parks say that “he was an instrumental part of the Granite Mountain Hotshots organization.”
“He joined the City of Prescott in 2003, as part of the fuels management crew, and worked to build a city-sponsored wildland team,” the site says, also adding that he aided in beginning the Arizona Wildlife Academy from his own living room, where he also instructed leadership classes and a variety of other things.
At the beginning of 2010, Eric Marsh proposed to his future wife, Amanda Marsh. Previously they had purchased a property with enough acreage for their beloved horses.
Today, Eric’s wife Amanda continues to provide outreach to wildland firefighters who are injured or killed in the line of duty, as well as their surviving family members.
We’ve looked a little into the life of Eric Marsh, but who were the hotshots?
The hotshots were a group of 20 men in total, ranging in age from 21 to 43 (that’s Eric). While 19 men, including Eric, perished on the day of the Yarnell Hill Fire, there was one survivor, Brendan McDonough. Sources indicate he was chosen as a lookout at the time and was separated from the group. Another source cites that after moving from his post to seek safety, he and another man who was a part of another hotshot crew then began to move the Granite Mountain Hotshots’ vehicles to a safer location.
The names of the other 18 men are as follows: Andrew Ashcraft, Robert Caldwell, Travis Carter, Dustin Deford, Christopher MacKenzie, Grant McKee, Sean Misner, Scott Norris, Wade Parker, John Percin, Anthony Rose, Jesse Steed, Joe Thurston, Travis Turbyfill, William Warneke, Clayton Whitted, Kevin Woyjeck, and Garret Zuppiger.
Each fought to preserve and protect the land and community that they were a part of and loved, and each was full of life and will be greatly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know them.
WILDFIRES: ON THE RISE?
In the past few decades, sources say the number of wildfires has been gradually increasing.
“For the United States as a whole, the total number of acres burned by wildfires and the average acres burned per fire has been ticking up in recent decades,” says the Union of Concerned Scientists. “From 2000 to 2018, wildfires burned more than twice as much land area per year than those from 1985 to 1999.”
According to the U.S. Forestry Service, many of the hotshot crews in the nation are located in the western region with more than 100 in existence.