Wade Parker, 22

Wade Parker was only as tall as his father’s waist when he started talking about following in his footsteps as a firefighter.

“He was my dad’s prodigy,” his older sister, Carrie Morena, said. “Pretty much anything my dad did, he wanted to do.”

That included hunting (the head of a stag he killed with a bow and arrow hangs in the family’s living room) and fishing, as well as firefighting. A talented athlete, he played baseball for a year at Lamar Community College in Colorado before returning home to Arizona to become a firefighter.

Mr. Parker joined the Granite Mountain Hotshots in 2012. Last June, during a two-day break between fires, he drove through the night to get to Disneyland with his girlfriend, Alicia Owens, whom he had dated since he was only 15. As the fireworks went off at the end of the night, he got down on his knee. They planned to marry in October.

“He loved his job,” Ms. Owens said. “We wanted to stay here and keep doing what we were doing.”

— IAN LOVETT
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Wade Parker