Granite Mountain Hotshots fought alongside Santa Fe crew

Posted at: 07/01/2013 5:31 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Santa Fe Fire Department worked closely with the Granite Mountain Hotshots during the Thompson Ridge Fire. They put out fires and built a fire line.

"Everyone works a lot together," Santa Fe Fire Chief Erik Litzenberg said. "You end up working 16 hours straight, so you become close to the crews that you work with."

For hotshots especially, teamwork is key. These firefighters worked side by side for weeks without stopping, forming bonds Litzenberg says went deep.

"They didn't scatter, they didn't run, they didn't abort their mission," Litzenberg said. "They stuck together and it's an absolute shame that they also perished together."

He says his department is mourning, but he feels for his hand crews still on the ground New Mexico's wildfires, who have little time to grieve.

"I look at them and how they have to process this emotionally and process the loss of the brotherhood," Litzenberg said. "And they don't have the freedom of time, they don't get to go through this process, take a few days and then go back to work -- they have to work today."

Litzenberg said he's offered any help Santa Fe can give to Prescott, including covering shifts while firefighters attend memorials.