Siouxlanders feel the loss of the fallen Arizona firefighters
On Sunday, 19 firefighters were killed when they were overcome by flames near Prescott, Arizona. These men were part of an elite team, known as hot shots.
"They do physical training every day on the fire line to maintain peak performance. They're the best of the best, but then often times they're placed in precarious situations," Executive Director for Plymouth County Conservation Board Dennis Sohl said.
Former hot shot and current Sioux City firefighter, Jeff Bentson, talked about what it's like being on the front lines.
"You're looking for the biggest, hottest fire. The bigger the fire, the hotter the fire, the more excited you are to go up there and fight it," Bentson said.
Bentson said the training he went through as a hot shot was rigorous. He hiked six to 10 miles a day with gear on.
But, for him it was all worth it to pursue his passion. Something, he said, was probably similar for those fallen firefighters.
"Adrenaline junkies. That's what I was when I was there. You just, that's just what you want to do. It's a fun job. It's a dangerous job. These kids were doing, I guarantee you, all of them were doing what they loved to do and unfortunately, it turned out to be a bad situation for them," Bentson said.
Two former firefighters who have experience putting out wildfires said for them it was an adventure.
"We always felt like we were the first human to step foot in this part of the United States, in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, yet it's been turned black due to fire," Sohl said.
"I think it's for the adventure and chance to see different parts of the country and camaraderie with the crew," Deputy Director for Woodbury County Conservation Board Mark Peterson said.
While these men didn't know any of the firefighters killed in Arizona, Bentson said the loss still hurts.
"Whenever you lose people out there, it does hit home and having been a hot shot, I can imagine what they were going through, what they were feeling," Bentson said.
Bentson said that despite all the fires his team fought, they feel lucky they're all alive.
There's a makeshift memorial at the fire station in Prescott, Arizona, where that firefighting team was based.
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