Beloved West Linn grad one of 19 killed in AZ wildfire - KPTV - FOX 12

Beloved West Linn grad one of 19 killed in AZ wildfire

Posted: Updated: July 1, 2013 09:55 PM

A beloved West Linn High School grad was one of 19 killed in an Arizona wildfire.

John Percin Jr., 24, lost his life in the line of duty Sunday in the largest single-day loss of life for firefighters since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Percin graduated from West Linn High in 2007. He was involved in multiple sports programs.

He was a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, which is an elite squad that fights wildfires head-on and sets up barriers to stop their spread and destruction.

But in the unpredictable world of fighting fires, the elements turned against Percin and his 18 other crewmates, causing them to be overtaken by flames.

"I'm just heartbroken. I can't even imagine what his family is feeling. I'm so sorry," said Percin's neighbor, Nichole Bissell.

The fallen fire crews' bodies were taken in white vans through the town of Prescott, AZ, Monday afternoon, while residents holding signs and American flags watched and paid their respects.

Percin's family said they are still working to get specific details about what happened from crews in Arizona.

His father tells FOX 12 that he wants to extend his condolences to the other 18 families who also lost a loved one Sunday.

Neighbors describe Percin as a loving son who will be greatly missed.

"He was just super-nice and very, very helpful," said Bissell. "Whenever I saw his car at home, I would knock on his door, and he would help me with whatever I needed."

Fire officials said a lightning strike most likely sparked the massive wildfire that quickly spread out of control, burning thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes.

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