Full name: Eric Sonora Meadows
Nickname (amongst his crew): Supe
Birthdate: September 29, 1969
Voice: Jeff Guidry (https://youtu.be/HO0O0SAgPuc)
Eye color: Green
Parents: John and Helen Sonora
Mate: Amanda Meadows
Friends: His crew, Amanda, the Arroyo fire chief
Liked: His job, his crew, his wife Amanda, rock climbing, fishing, mountain biking, being outdoors, country music (especially that of Alan Wilde), helping others, honesty
Disliked: Arguing with his wife, rookies getting questions wrong, being used just to get a transfer to another fire station, liars, having decisions/orders questioned or doubted
Personality: Compassionate and caring about his crew; kind and funny, and worked hard to help everyone willing to help themselves; volatile, insightful, very observent, resourceful; was a good-hearted, loyal, and generous coyote of integrity who loved his family, his life, and being a Claw Mountain Hotshot.
History: He was born in a small town in the Desertlands (a rather large area much like Arizona). When he was young he loved being outdoors, and knew he wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up. After graduating from college, he worked and excelled at several jobs, but the one he loved most was wildland firefighting. Before landing a full-time firefighting job, he spent his summers working with various fire teams, and spent some time with the Forest Service during fire seasons.
In 1995 he met and fell for Amanda Meadows, a whitetail deer who worked as a waitress in a diner in the town of Arroyo. After dating for several months Eric proposed to Amanda during her shift, in front of customers, and she said yes. In 1996 they got married.
In 2003, Eric joined the Arroyo Fire Department in the Wildland Division, and in 2008 he created the Claw Mountain Hotshots (named for a nearby mountain), an elite team of 20 (including himself) highly-skilled wildland firefighters, and was the first municipal Type 1 hotshot crew in the country. In the following years Eric and his crew successfully fought several wildfires, including saving a historic juniper tree over 1,800 years old.
At about 9:30 am on June 30, 2013, Eric received a phone call about a fire in Furnell. He hugged his wife Amanda, kissed her, told her "I love you.", and headed out to the Hotshots' station, where he called in the rest of the crew.
Upon arriving at the scene, the Claw Mountain Hotshots deployed to protect Furnell from the fire, 200 acres in size and advancing on a residential neighborhood; winds were from the southwest, ranging from 6 to 13 mph. Eric dropped off Brendan McDeernough at a lookout spot on an outcrop a mile away, northeast of Claw Mountain; his job was to make observations of fire location and weather, and provide the crew with information about how the fire was moving.
Eric and the other Hotshots then started a controlled burn to contain the fire, but an air tanker mistook it for a secondary fire and extinguished it, forcing the crew to relocate and make a new fire line. The winds then shifted to the northeast, starting at 11 mph and soon reached 26 mph, with gusts up to 41. The fire was pushed toward Brendan and the crew. It soon reached Brendan's lookout point, forcing him to leave his post and make his way to his safety spot, as well as a place to deploy his fire shelter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_shelter) if the fire overtook him. He tried to call another hotshot crew for a ride, but the superintendent of that crew picked him up in an ATV before he could get the call out, and dropped him off at the Claw Mountain crew's mobile fire headquarters. Eric and the other Hotshots were told to move, and they made their way toward a designated safe zone. The fire picked up speed and overtook the safe zone before Eric and his crew could reach it. Realizing he and his crew were trapped, Eric ordered the Hotshots to prepare a deployment site, called in an air tanker to cover the crew's position, and made an urgent call over the radio:
“Yeah, I’m here with Claw Mountain Hotshots. Our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site, and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush, and I’ll give you a call when we're under our she-... shelters.”
The air tanker overflew the trapped Hotshots, not seeing them because of the heavy smoke. Eric ordered his crew to deploy their fire shelters. The fire reached them moments later. The air tanker made several radio calls to the Hotshots, but there was no response.
After the fire passed, the deployment site was found in the charred and smoking landscape by the superintendent of another crew, who had tried to reach the Hotshots earlier but were forced back by the intense flames and heat of the fire. The Claw Mountain crew's fire shelters were melted and in fragments, and it was clear there were no survivors.
The 19 fallen firefighters were trucked off the hill, and 8 days later there was a somber procession of more than 100 miles across the Desertlands. Hearses flying Desertlands flags carried the Hotshots (including Eric) from the capitol to their hometown of Arroyo, passing the community where they died battling the Furnell Hill Fire. Mammals from across the Desertlands and around the country gathered along the route of the public procession, withstanding triple-digit temperatures to pay respects to the elite wildfire-fighting crew. Kelly Panthera, Zootopia's first female firefighter, was among the many first responders to pay their respects. The fire's lone survivor, Brendan McDeernough, also paid his respects. He still has survivor's guilt to this day.
There is now a memorial to the Hotshots at the site where they lost their lives, and the town of Arroyo never started another crew.
Relation to Zootopia: Eric liked Alan Wilde's music; Alan is the adopted brother of Nick's mother; Whistler Mackenzie's brother Chris was among his crew; Whistler lives in the same building as Judy, is friends with Nick and Judy, and was shot by Doug during the savage predator scare; Chris and Whistler's sister Rachel is married to Nick; Kelly is friends with Nick's mother.
*Was inspired by watching the 2017 movie Only the Brave, about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It's very good, but very intense. I highly recommend it, if you haven't seen it yet.
*Based on Eric Marsh, one of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.
*Has the same initials as the real person I based him on, E.S.M., Eric Shane Marsh.
*His personality is as close to the real Eric Marsh as I could get it, based on his obituary as well as a few other sites, and his portrayal in Only the Brave. Some of his interests are the same as well. His dislikes are based on his portrayal in the movie.
*His history is as close to that of the real Eric Marsh as I could get it, also based on his obituary and a few other sites; how he met his wife Amanda has been fictionalized, as well as Amanda's career.
*Brendan McDeernough is wordplay on Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of the actual fire.
*Emotionally, he was the most difficult character I've ever worked on; I can't even imagine what those brave men went through in their final moments.
In memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew:
*Andrew Ashcraft, 29
*Robert Caldwell, 23
*Travis Carter, 31
*Dustin DeFord, 24
*Christopher MacKenzie, 30
*Eric Marsh, 43
*Grant McKee, 21
*Sean Misner, 26
*Scott Norris, 28
*Wade Parker, 22
*John Percin Jr., 24
*Anthony Rose, 23
*Jesse Steed, 36
*Joe Thurston, 32
*Travis Turbyfill, 27
*William Warneke, 25
*Clayton Whitted, 28
*Kevin Woyjeck, 21
*Garret Zuppiger, 27
You all died as heroes, and will never be forgotten.
Pic by Meemee
|May 27, 2018|