Brendan McDonough is the surviving member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew in Prescott. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -
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 at a news briefing Tuesday.
Brendan McDonough was on a hillside Sunday, 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.
It's not known if a second lookout was in place.
CBS 5 News learned McDonough was the lone survivor late Monday.
Ward received a standing ovation as he implored the media: "Please leave him alone."
"He's trying to deal with the same things we're trying to deal with," Ward told the media, and residents who had gathered for the briefing.
The identities of all the victims were released by the Prescott Fire Department on Monday.