HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- There is so much more behind the lives lost in the Prescott, Arizona blaze than charred turn-out gear or a collective dedication to the protection of life and property--or even a name; but families, bonds and relationships that have now been extinguished far too early. Flames, though, that have at once been silenced but can never truly flicker away forever for the people who loved those willing to fight.
The bond between Huntsville's Dale Couture and fallen Prescott firefighter Sean Misner began on the baseball diamond as kids growing up together in Santa Ynez, California. Before Monday, Couture's memories of Misner remained fond reflections on those little league games, hanging out in college and finding all types of adventures and outdoor activities to get into with buddies.
"We'd go snowboarding, we'd go camping, we'd take our trucks and go off-roading."
As far as Couture knew, all was well with his boisterous, up-for-anything childhood friend; Couture says he remained blissfully unaware of the situation in Arizona during his move from Franklin, TN. to Huntsville over the past week.
"I was in the middle of moving these past couple of days so I still don't have internet yet, I still don't have TV so I feel like I'm kind of in the stone age about finding out information."
Couture says his brief hiatus from technology kept him clueless about the loss of life out West-- that is until he pulled up Facebook on his phone while headed to work Monday morning. He says he noticed a few friends had posted pictures of Sean; nothing really out of the ordinary at first, but Couture says the photo captions gave him the first indication something was wrong.
"One person said 'rest in peace', another said 'we'll miss you' and immediately my heart just jumped and I thought this had to be some type of joke," recalls Couture, "this is just not right."
Eventually a call from Couture and Misner's mutual friend and college buddy Jason confirmed the worst.
"You almost don't believe it, even right now I feel like is this really all happening, is it all real? Because he's so young, he's 26 years old and it's so tragic to me, he just got married last summer, a baby on the way--it's almost something like you'd see in a movie that isn't even real," explains Couture.
After high school Couture and his friend Jason were accepted to Auburn University were they graduated in December of 2012. The summer the friends moved down to the plains, Sean Misner decided to follow.
"Sean wanted to come and just kind of start over a little bit, look for work and maybe go to school out there," Couture says.
But Couture said Misner had something else on his mind that distracted him from typical college-town outings with friends. Couture says Misner was in love.
"He was lovestruck completely by Amanda," Couture smiles.
Eventually, within a month or so Couture says, Sean Misner ventured across the country again to Arizona to reunite with the love of his life Amanda; he also planned to pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter. It was a dream realized by Misner, but one recognized all too briefly.
"He talked about that forever, all through high school that he wanted to do that because his grandfather was a fire chief in Montecito, CA."
Couture says he will always be inspired by the passion and drive of friend Sean Misner. He says the constant reminders of the continuing devastation unfolding in Arizona are difficult for him, but he says he is glad the stories of the Prescott firefighters will be heard and cherished.
"They are heroes," says Couture, "they're loved by their country, they're loved by the communities they were fighting to protect; their families, their friends."
Couture says his thoughts now concentrate on Misner's 7-months-pregnant wife Amanda and their unborn son to be named Jaxon Herbert Misner.
"I can't imagine saying anything that would really help her a lot right now but just to know how much he loved her--and I'm sure she does know that."
You can show support to the Misner family and donate to the fund set up to benefit Misner's widow Amanda and their unborn son Jaxon by visiting the Sean Misner Memorial Facebook Page set up by friends in his honor.