TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - One of the 19 wildland firefighters killed on Sunday in the Yarnell Hill Fire was a University of Arizona graduate.
Garett Zuppiger earned his fiance degree from the UA's Eller College of Management in May 2008. His friends remember him as kind and outgoing with a spontaneous personality.
One of his close friends is Garett Picchioni. The two met in 2006 while student employees at the UA and they immediately hit off, "he was very smart, he could talk about a wide range of subjects, sports, he was a big baseball fan, he loved the Padres, and he was a U of A Wildcat fan as well."
Picchioni says Zuppiger, who was only 27, was an avid outdoorsman, and that he loved being on the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, "he loved fishing, hiking, but joining the hotshot crew I think it was a calling for him, being out in the environment, in the wilderness, it was just stuff that he loved."
With his friend gone, and no more future fishing trips, Picchioni realizes now more than ever the value of a true friendship, "situations like this make it very obvious that no matter the age, the time that you do have with your friends is something you should take advantage of as best you can."
Picchioni says a nice way to honor Zuppiger's memory is to thank a firefighter next time you see one, "I think a lot of folks, every now and then, will take firefighters for granted. What first responders do and then it takes a tragedy like this to bring everyone back down to earth to realize just what exactly these people do on a daily basis."