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Jul 3, 2013 2:13 AM by Rebecca Taylor

UA alumnus killed while battling in Yarnell Hill Fire

TUCSON - The University of Arizona is mourning the loss of an alumnus.

The 2008 graduate is one of 19 firefighters who perished in the Yarnell Hill fire.

Garret Zuppiger was 27 years old. After graduating from the UA's Eller College he moved to Prescott to become a firefighter.

Friends say it was his calling.

One of Zuppiger's college buddies, who coincidently shares his first and middle names describes him as outgoing, spontaneous and dedicated to his job as a Granite Mountain Hot Shot.

Zuppiger loved the outdoors, so being a firefighter was a perfect fit according to friends.

He also kept a blog, describing his fondness for ice-fishing, hiking and spending time with friends and family.

That's something friend, Garret Picchioni says he'll miss most.

"His charismatic personality is what I'm going to miss the best. He could walk into a room with strangers and leave everybody's best friend," said Picchioni, "he's probably one of the nicest individuals you'd ever meet. He'd give you the shirt off his back if he could, if you were ever in need, that was just how he was. And an extremely funny individual. He made it a point to ensure everyone had smiles on their faces throughout the day."

Picchioni says Zuppiger lived every day like it was his last.

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