The fallen firefighter who died while battling the massive Ferguson Fire in the Sierra National Forest was honored at a memorial service in Fresno attended by more than 1,500 people on Saturday.
Family members, firefighters from around the nation, staff from the National Park Service and members of the Arrowhead Hotshots who worked alongside Captain Brian Hughes came to pay their respects.
The 33-year-old firefighter was an engaged father-to-be originally from Hilo, Hawai’i with a 15-year career. He was fatally struck by a tree on July 29 while batting the wildfire in an area with many dead trees, just west of Yosemite National Park, according to fire officials.
While he was treated at the scene, he died before he could be transported to a hospital, park officials said.
Hughes was captain of the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshot Crew — an elite crew of firefighters based out of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
"They go into the steepest of the steep, the most rugged of the rugged areas," Mike Theune, a spokesman with the parks, told the Los Angeles Times.
During the Saturday memorial service, bagpipes were played as a traditional folding and presentation of the U.S. flag and firefighter last bell ceremony took place.
Loved ones and some of the firefighters who worked alongside Hughes spoke about him during the service.
"Brian’s legacy lives on in every life he saved and place he protected," Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, was quoted as saying in a news release from park officials.
"We will remember and honor his sacrifices and service, now and forever, in the extraordinary places that he helped to protect," Smeck said.
On a GoFundMe page for Hughes, he is described as "a funny, enthusiastic, outgoing and all around an amazing human being" who was expecting his first child. His fiancee is 3 months pregnant, according to the page.
"He was excited and nervous to be a father and would go around asking the other fathers on the crew for some fatherly advice," the page states.
The fundraising page states that donations will be given directly to his fiancee Paige and their unborn child. By Saturday night, it had raised $127,316 — far exceeding an initial goal of $5,000.
Another memorial service for Hughes will be held in his native state of Hawai’i on Aug. 12.