Sole Surviving Arizona Firefighter Finally Speaks

Brendan McDonough says he isn't quitting firefighting

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2013 9:26 AM CDT

(Newser) – Brendan McDonough, the only member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew to survive a deadly wildfire in Arizona in June, has given his first interview since the tragedy to ABC News. Contrary to earlier reports, McDonough—known to his colleagues as "Donut"—says the team was aware that the fire was headed toward it, and his crewmates were the ones to tell him to get to safety. "From where they were, they could see it picking up. So they kind of relayed to me, 'Hey, Donut, we got eyes on it,'" he says. He radioed back to say he was moving, and remembers the last thing he heard from his boss. "Jesse Steed, my captain, said, 'All right, I'll see you soon.'"

But McDonough says he couldn't have changed the outcome. "There's nothing I could've done besides have been up on the hill with them and someone else been in my position, to have been with them and died in my boots with them," he says. Despite the traumatic experience, McDonough tells ABC he isn't quitting firefighting. "You don't quit," he says. "You just overcome." Click for more from the interview, in which McDonough recounts a sound he heard in the fire truck that still haunts him: "Whoever didn't bring their phone, I could hear phones ringing, knowing that it was their wives, their family."

Firefighter Brendan McDonough embraces a mourner near the end of a candlelight vigil in Prescott, Arizona.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
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