Brendan McDonough, the sole survivor from the 20-man Granite Mountain Hotshot firefighter crew engulfed in an Arizona blaze little more than a month ago gave an interview for the first time since the tragedy.
“I could hear phones ringing, knowing that it was their wives, their family, I sunk. I sunk into my seat, I sunk into myself, I couldn’t think,” McDonough recalled in an ABC interview aired Wednesday, describing the hours that followed the fatal change in winds. He was assigned to watch the fire, an assignment that saved his life as he was stationed apart from the 19 others.
“I look at a hero as someone who laid their life down.”
At about 3:45 p.m., the wind changed, driving the fire toward his crewmates. “Why am I sitting here?” he asked. He has been to 19 funerals.
The crew’s leader, Eric Marsh, was also killed in the blaze, but is being blamed by the forestry division for not following recommended procedure, reports ABC. Dan Fraijo, Prescott Fire Chief, told ABC he is disgusted at the finger pointing: “This is one of the most disgusting incidents that I’ve had in my entire career.”