Andrew Ashcraft, 29

Andrew Ashcraft loved working as a Hotshot, but he struggled with having to spend so much time away from his wife and four children, ages 1, 2, 4 and 6. It was his third season on the team, and after being named the Granite Mountain Hotshots rookie of the year in 2011, he was in a leadership position.

“There is this constant tug and pull of loving his family and loving what he does,” said his wife, Juliann.

When Mr. Ashcraft was away fighting fires, he would text his wife, asking her about the family’s trip to the swimming pool that day, and always telling them he loved them. And when he was home, he devoted himself completely to his children, attending his son Ryder’s T-ball games and joking around the house.

Ms. Ashcraft said she and her husband played an ongoing game of trying to lock each other out of their home. When she would lock him out, he had to do a dance for her before she would let him back inside. “His go-to dance was spelling his name with his butt in the air,” she said. “He was a jokester. He just made everything fun.”

On Saturday evening, he returned home from two weeks fighting another fire, arriving just in time to tuck the children into bed. The next morning at 5:20, he kissed his wife goodbye and headed back to the station.

“He wanted to finish out this season strong, and then think about when he might change to a profession that’s a little more family-friendly,” Ms. Ashcraft said.

— IAN LOVETT
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