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By Photo courtesy of Cassidy Steed
BY MATTHEW MARTZ Tehachapi News
One of 19 firefighters who died fighting a wildfire in northern Arizona on Sunday was the husband of longtime Tehachapi resident Desiree Phillips Steed.
Captain of a crew responsible for fighting the Yarnell Hill blaze in Arizona, 36-year-old Jesse Steed was one of the oldest and most experienced members of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots for the past two years.
He started working as a hot shot in 2002 and moved to the Granite Mountain crew in 2003-2004 when it were established.
The elite team was one of roughly 107 crews in the U.S., consisting of 20 firefighters who have been specifically trained to respond to fires in remote regions with little or no logistical support.
It is a dangerous and hazardous occupation.
But Steed was no stranger to danger or bravery, serving in the United States Marine Corps for four years before returning home and becoming a firefighter in 2000.
According to Kimberly Sheets, a Tehachapi resident and friend of Steed's widow, the couple met in Arizona when Phillips moved to Prescott to attend college.
She said that she remembers receiving letters from Phillips shortly after she met Steed, telling her all about what a special guy she had found.
Sheets also said she was shocked when she found out Jesse was among the firefighters who perished.
"I just knew something was wrong when I saw what happened in Arizona on TV," she said. "As soon as I put things together, I talked to Desiree on Facebook, and she told me that Jesse had passed away."
Attempts to reach Phillips and her parents, Karen and Bud Sargent of Tehachapi, were unsuccessful.
Steed's brother Cassidy, a police officer in Renton, Wash., issued a statement to Renton Patch.com on Monday.
"Jesse has always put his life on the line for people who he knew he would never meet. He sacrificed time with his family and his own personal interests."
"All of Jesse's crew also gave the ultimate sacrifice. Now there are 19 families who are as grief-stricken and numb from their recent loss as I am. No amount of money will ever replace that brother, father, husband, loved one or friend."
Besides brother Cassidy and his wife, Steed leaves behind and two children, Caden, 4, and Cambria, 3, as well as a sister, Taunya Steed and brother Levi Federwisch.