- Associated Press - Saturday, August 27, 2016

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. (AP) - Thousands of people paid their respects to a Vermont firefighter Saturday who died earlier this month while battling a wildfire in Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

The service for Justin Beebe, 26, was held at the Bellows Falls Union High School. Beebe’s family and friends describe him as a young man who had a passion for people and the outdoors.

Family friend David Clark said he knew Beebe from the time he was born, WCAX-TV reported. He called him a “tremendous athlete.”

“This was a kid who was really well-liked, and certainly deserved it,” said Clark.

Beebe was in his first year as a member of the Lolo Hotshots, elite U.S. Forest Service firefighters based in Missoula, Montana, when he died Aug. 13.

A tree fell on him as he battled a fire sparked by lightning, not far from the Nevada-Utah line, about 200 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The fire was a 7-square-mile blaze that had been raging for five days. It has since been extinguished.

A memorial service was held Aug. 20 in Missoula.

The Lolo Hotshots are called upon to fight the most dangerous wildfires in the West. Crews work to stop the fires by using chain saws and pickaxes to fell trees and clear fire lines to eliminate fuel for those fires.

Hotshots from all the country attended Beebe’s service. One Massachusetts mother, who lost her Hotshot son, said she didn’t know Beebe, but wanted to be there for Beebe’s family.

“I feel like I kind of know what the family’s going through,” Dee Burke said. “Let them know that there’s another hotshot family in New England.”

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