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"This is the last group this would happen to," Firefighters remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots

"This is the last group this would happen to," Firefighters remember the Granite Mountain Hotshots

By Craig Smith. CREATED Jul 1, 2013

ORO VALLEY, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - Wildland firefighters know the heat, danger and satisfaction of fighting a fire with skill and the pack on their back.
    
Golder Ranch Firefighter Robert Russo just could not believe fire could take the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

"Number one.  You're talking a top notch crew."
      
They were so good, they trained Russo and many other firefighters.

He says, "You would think this would never happen to them, this is the last group this would happen to."

 Karen Shunk fought wild fires until she got hurt.

"My heart and soul just goes out to all of the other firefighters involved in this situation and the families."

Her training included video of firefighters dying.

"And then they say, it's your choice, do you want to leave now."
 She didn't; others didn't, because their urge to serve is stronger than fear.

Shunk says, "I was under one fire storm and it's like a freight train over your head and all of a sudden everything's black.  You're trained on what to do.  Fortunately mine was very brief."
      
Even knowing how fire killed 19 of his friends, Robert Russo is still ready to grab his red bag and answer the call.  He knows the danger is part of his life and says his family knows that too.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press