Dustin DeFord

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz.—On Sunday, June 30, nineteen of the Prescott Fire Department’s Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed while fighting what has become known as one of the worst wildfires in history. Dustin DeFord, a member of Open Door Baptist Church, was among those firefighters. He was 24 years old.

“DeFord worked in the [Carter County, Mont.] Hazardous Fuel Reduction program and as a firefighter every summer from 2007 to 2012,” reports the Billings Gazette. “But for the summer of 2013, DeFord won a coveted position on the Granite Mountain Hotshots, based in Prescott, Ariz.”

Dustin was the fifth of 10 children born to Steve and Celeste DeFord in Baltimore. His family moved to Ekalaka, Mont., in 1996 when his father became pastor of First Baptist Church, started by church planter M. O. Burman in 1949. Earlier this year Dustin joined Open Door Baptist Church. “He loved to serve with our teen youth group, who greatly appreciated and enjoyed him,” says Pastor Tom Petro. “Just last week at youth group—the last time he was at church—he asked us to pray that he would be a good witness and testimony to his fellow firefighters. . . . He was burdened for them all.”

The Los Angeles Times quotes Dustin’s mother as saying, “He was not afraid of death. There was no fear. He had a simple faith in Jesus—that whatever he chose, it was going to be all right.”