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Close friend remembers fallen smokejumper

Published On: Jun 12 2013 09:05:03 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 13 2013 11:17:52 AM CDT
ANDERSON, Calif. -

A close friend of the Smokejumper who was killed on Monday sat down with KRCR and shared his memories of Luke Sheehy.

Sheehy, who was 28 years old, was killed by a falling tree limb while he was fighting a lightning fire in Modoc County.

Aaron Burrough told us he considered Luke more than just a good friend.

"It was definitely more than that," Burrough.  "He was my little brother.  I told him that. He told me the same thing."

Burrough said he and Sheehy met and became close while working at CAL FIRE's helitack base in Bieber, Calif.

Before that, Sheehy worked at CAL FIRE's Westwood Station and briefly for the Diamond Mountain Hotshots in Susanville, his hometown.

Burrough said Sheehy was "an absolute monster on the fire ground," who worked hard to contain the fires he was fighting.

Sheehy then started working out of Redding as a smokejumper for the US Forest Service. Burrough became a Batallion Chief at CAL FIRE's Redding air attack base.

The two remained close and even lived down the street from each other.

"He cared about family. He cared about those that were close to him so deeply that you couldn't help but like the guy," Burrough said.

Burrough told us what happened Monday still doesn't feel real.

"I got the text messages on my phone when he was taxiing down the runway of how excited he was to go," he said.

Just about an hour later, he got a call from a friend telling him what he was hearing over emergency scanners.  

"There's a phone call going through saying a smokejumper was hit by a snag. I said Luke was on that load. And I instantly, I just knew. It's a sick feeling," Burrough said.

After hearing about the incident, he said he didn't know what to do or think.

"I sat in my office and stared out my window for three hours until they came and brought me home," Burrough said.

Although it's been a few days, Burrough said it is still hard to wrap his head around what happened.

"The hardest part to deal with is something so simple was able to end it for him. Simple and random and that's what's hard to take," Burrough said.

When asked how he thinks Luke will be remembered, Burrough said "Luke was absolutely genuine. If I had to sum him up in one word, its genuine."

He told us Sheehy was a well-rounded guy, loved everything from hunting to Harley Davidson's to snowboarding and he had a passion for music.

"He was an amazing musical artist," Burrough said. "He played the fiddle, the piano, the guitar."

Burrough told us he feels lucky to have so many memories with him.

"He just loved the outdoors, loved what he was doing," Burrough said. "He was happy. Anywhere he was, he was happy. Just a simple guy that was real happy."