Many pay respects at touching tribute to fallen firefighter Brian Hughes in Downtown Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- First, a formal procession through the streets of Downtown Fresno. Then, inside the walls of Valdez Hall, a moving tribute to Brian Hughes, who died while fighting the Ferguson Fire last weekend.

Meriel Hughes, Hughes' sister, spoke about her brother, "He was a brother, a friend, and the best person I knew."

Family, friends, and firefighters from around the state attended the memorial service for Hughes. He was a Captain for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks' Arrowhead Hot Shots. The elite group was protecting homes when a dead tree fell on Hughes, killing him.

Woody Smeck, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Superintendent, said, "Brian was dedicated to public service. He died protecting people he never met-- their homes, their most cherished possessions, and memories."

Hughes, a native Hawaiian, took the Captain position with the Arrowhead Hotshots in 2015. That year, he was part of a burnout operation that saved the Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias. Last year, he was part of a park service team that went to the U.S. Virgin Islands for hurricane recovery efforts.

Hughes was a talented firefighter, a hotshots' hotshot, and strong leader proud of the work his crew was doing at the Ferguson Fire.

Arrowhead Interagency Hotshot Crew Superintendent Jose Suarez said, "I do know that Brian would expect this crew to take some time, and get back out there. And we will Brian-- we will do it in your honor."

The 33-year-old had a lively personality, good sense of humor, and couldn't wait to become a father. His fiancé is due to have their baby in February.
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