Grant McKee, 21

Grant McKee was going to spend just one fire season on the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew. His cousin, Robert Caldwell, had been doing it for a while, and the two of them were close, more like brothers than cousins. Mr. McKee looked up to Mr. Caldwell, who was two years older. They loved camping and fishing together, and Grant wanted to follow him into firefighting.

But Mr. McKee’s dream was not to fight blazes in the wilderness. He wanted to be a paramedic in the local fire department. And he had another dream: to marry his fiancée, Leah Fine, and raise a family in Prescott. They had planned to marry this summer but decided to wait until their careers were on track.

“All he wanted was a home and a family,” said his aunt, Laurie McKee.

Mr. McKee grew up in Southern California. Wiry and strong, he made his high school’s varsity wrestling team as a freshman.

“He was a tough kid,” said his grandmother, Mary Hoffmann. “But he was also the kindest person I ever met” — so kind, she recalled, that he would give away his toys to any friends who admired them. He moved to Prescott his senior year of high school to live with his aunt and, like Mr. Caldwell, fell in love with the mountains.

“He never wanted to leave,” Ms. McKee said.

Both cousins died in the fire.

— RAY RIVERA
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Grant McKee