West Metro firefighter and former hot shot mourns friends killed fighting Yarnell Hill Fire

Morrison, COLO. - A West Metro Firefighter and Prescott native is mourning the loss of the 19 hot shots killed fighting the Yarnell Fire in Arizona.

Doug Berg worked for the Prescott Fire Department for 17 years, spending one season working as a Prescott Hot Shot. 

In the world of firefighting, hot shots are known as the best. The elite groups of 20 are trained to take on dangerous assignments, often attacking a fire head-on in remote areas with little-to-no lifeline.

"That's the reason they're there and that's the reason they're funded is to be the best of the best in wildland firefighting," Berg said.

During his time in Prescott, he worked side by side with some of the Granite Mountain Crew.

"They were very humble, very hard working and they were very proud of being able to do what they do," Berg said.

Eighteen of the nineteen hot shots who died were part of the Granite Mountain Crew. Officials said a shift in winds trapped them. They'd all deployed their fire shelters, which is considered a last resort.

Berg told 7NEWS the area they were in has dangerous fuels which create volatile, fast moving fires.

"You get caught behind the eight ball on it and those flame fronts are approaching you, you're at the mercy of mother nature," Berg said.

His heart is now with the other heroes in this story - the husbands, wives and children who are left to carry the loss felt so heavily in his hometown.

"It's hard for me to describe because my heart's still heavy.  I know they'll move forward, nobody expected this to happen but we do assume some risk in this."