Eric Marsh became hooked on firefighting while at Appalachian State University in the early 1990s, friends say.
Marsh moved to Arizona after earning a bachelors degree in biology, landed a job as a firefighter, and moved his parents, John and Jane, to the state about five years ago.
On Sunday, Marsh was among the 19 firefighters killed while battling a blaze near the town of Yarnell. At age 43, he was superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz.
Marsh is a graduate of Ashe County High School, and John Marsh was an Ashe County commissioner from 1994 to 2000.
He was great he was the best at what he did, said Leanna Racquer, former wife of Marshs cousin. He is awesome and well-loved.
Racquer said Marsh stayed with her and her then-husband in North Carolina during the winters of 1992 to 1994. She said he was an avid mountain biker who worked as a firefighter in the North Carolina mountains before moving to Arizona.
Marsh was married but had no children, according to officials in Arizona.
John Marsh told the Jefferson Post in Ashe County that his son was compassionate and caring about his crew. He called his only child a great son.
He said the crew was in direct attack mode, trying to stop the blaze from reaching the town of Yarnell.
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