Brendan McDonough is the surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew in Prescott. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
For 19 days, flags in Arizona stood at half-mast to honor the 19 firefighters who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.
On July 20, the flags will be raised again.
Gov. Jan Brewer said July 20 is a day for Arizonans to remember Brendan McDonough, the sole survivor of the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot crew.
"We are grateful and thankful for his life," Brewer said. "Please join with me by praying for Brendan who lost 19 brothers in the Yarnell Fire and that God would comfort him during these difficult times."
McDonough, the only member of a 20-person Hotshots firefighting crew who lived through their deployment to the Yarnell Hill Fire, was serving as a lookout away from where his teammates were killed, Prescott Fire Department spokesman Wade Ward said.
McDonough was on a hillside on June 30, and radioed the crew that the weather was changing rapidly.
"The wind changed," said Prescott Fire Battalion Chief Ralph Lucas. "We had a thunderstorm that was above. They have a tendency to push winds around, just because of the dynamics of nature, and that may have been what occurred during that time period, that brought fire to trigger point."
The "trigger point" is language fire crews use to refer to an awareness that he needed to move.
"He went down the hillside to a dozer line and walked out," Ward said. "He did exactly what he was supposed to."
He was met by a supervisor with another team, the Blue Ridge Hotshots, and realized where he had just been was being consumed by the wildfire, Ward said.
McDonough never deployed a shelter, and was not in the burn over, Ward said.
"He left his post based on protocol," Ward stated.
McDonough was in his third season with the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew.
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