11 News talked Monday with a commander of the Pike Hotshots: local firefighters who do the same job as the ones lost in Arizona. News of 19 firefighters killed is a terrible shock.
A job with the Hotshots is nowhere close to easy. The 20-person crews are called wherever they’re needed to the front lines in rough terrain, cutting fire breaks face-to-face with wildfires
“I've fought a lot of fire in Arizona,” said Pike Hotshot superintendent Kevin Neiman.
"The reality is any time when these things happen it is a natural act of nature like a tsunami,” Neiman said. “You need to know when not to stand in its way."
Neiman said Monday crews like his and the one lost in Arizona are well-trained and equipped for the job. They've seen terrible fires, but never one so devastating to a crew Neiman's team has worked alongside through the years.
"They're a good crew,” he said. “It's incredibly difficult."
The loss, Neiman said, is a shock to the firefighting community that now faces the toughest job yet.
“You have to focus and deal with that grief, but then you have to move forward and go to work and make quality decisions,” he said.
The Pike Hotshots are currently working on a wildfire in western Colorado.