Eric Marsh, 43, was an avid mountain biker who grew up in Ashe County, N.C., but became hooked on firefighting while studying biology at Arizona State University, said Leanna Racquer, the ex-wife of his cousin.
Marsh lived with Racquer and her then-husband during the winters from 1992 through 1996 in North Carolina, but kept returning to Arizona during fire season.
After college, he kept working as a firefighter, eventually landing a full-time job and settling in Northern Arizona. He even moved his parents to the state, she said.
Marsh was superintendent of the hotshot crew and the oldest of the 19 who died.
“He’s was great — he was the best at what he did,” Racquer said. “He is awesome and well-loved, and they are hurting,” she said of his family.
Marsh was married but had no children, said his cousin, Scott Marsh of Pisgah Forest, N.C.