Hotshot firefighter: Job has the most risks, but also most rewarding

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LAWRENCE, Kan. -- The news of 19 firefighters losing their lives in a central Arizona wildfire hit close to home for 22-year old Nick Cesare.

"I can't imagine if it was my crew when it happened," he said. "The guys you work with become your family."

Just like the fallen crew, Cesare is also a member of this elite class of firemen called hotshot firefighters, responsible for attacking wildfires on the front line.

"You get there and as far as you can see there's just fire and burned trees, it's mind boggling," Cesare said.

The career is one of the riskiest, but in Cesare's opinion, is also one of the most rewarding.

"Last year we were out there at the fire in Fort Collins, Colorado that burned 200 homes and the biggest motivation was driving out to the fire in the mountains and seeing people outside in the Red Cross tents holding up signs that said,  'Thank you.'  And just understanding you're protecting their homes and livelihood," he said.

This week, Cesare is leaving his home in Lawrence for Logan, Utah. There, he will reunite with his hotshot fire crew. Until October, they are on call in case a monster blaze sparks again.

"Of course with what happened last week, I was concerned with wanting to know if that was his crew," said Nick's father David Cesare. "To know it was somebodys crew was very sad and I don't know how a father, mother or anyone can deal with that loss."

It's a thought that makes Nick's father nervous, as he knows the inferno's temper can be unpredictable.

"There's that sense of -- I know you're there, but are you ok?," David said.

But at the end of the day, the younger Cesare says he can't imagine doing anything else for a living.

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