July 24, 2013 Edition

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LawCo. Ranger helps
fight Arizona fire

Lawrence County Ranger Eric Smith was in Mesa, Ariz., fighting the wildfires from June 25 through July 10. He worked as a ramp manager, helping load planes with fire retardant used to stop the spread of fire.

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

Lawrence County Ranger Eric Smith with the Arkansas Forestry Commission worked in the fight against the wildfires at Mesa, Ariz., from June 25 through July 10.

Smith worked as a ramp manager at the Mesa-Gateway Tanker Base, loading fire retardant to prevent the spread of the wildfire.

Smith has been working to fight wildfires since 2001. "I do it every chance I get," he said.

He said that there are always risks to the job and he's seen people hurt and gotten hurt himself fighting fires. "That's nothing compared to what it's like when someone dies in a fire. The loss of the 19 firefighters was felt by all who were working to stop the wildfire."

"Working with people who personally knew them, it really hits home that it can be you at any given time," he said. "It's stunning for all the firefighters involved."

He said his team came from different parts of the country, some from Arkansas, some from Minnesota and several from Arizona. They all worked together to load the planes.

"We all do this for a living and everybody just pulls together to make sure the job gets done."

Smith said his thoughts and prayers go to the families of the 19 firefighters.

"We're grateful to those who lost their lives doing what they loved."

He said it's not a job you can do half-heartedly. "We do this because we love it."

Smith lives in Powhatan with his wife, Linda.

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