Hotshot Who Survived Fatal Arizona Fire Discusses Experience

Brendan McDonough, the surviving 20th member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, he went numb after learning the 19 men he considered his brothers were dead, and he wonders why he alone was spared what he calls a “horrible, freak accident,” reports CBS News.

McDonough was the Granite Mountain Hotshots’ lookout June 30 and wasn’t with the rest of the crew when it was overtaken by the Yarnell Hill Fire amid shifting winds. He left his post for safety after notifying the men of rapidly changing weather.

“Why wasn’t I there with them?” McDonough said he asked himself. “That’s all I could think, to pray for their safety. … I’m kind of numb at that point. I’d cried a lot. And I came to a point where I just didn’t have any more tears.”

McDonough’s comments come as some of the loved ones of the Hotshots who died fight with the city of Prescott for the lifetime benefits given to families of full-time firefighters who die in the line of duty.

All 19 hotshot families will receive worker’s compensation and a one-time federal payment of $328,000, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports. But the city insists Andrew Ashcraft and 12 others were seasonal employees and are therefore not entitled to the lifetime salaries and health benefits – worth millions – given to the six full-time Hotshots.

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