NewsNorthern Arizona NewsPrescott News


Brendan McDonough update: Survivor of deadly Yarnell wildfire takes new job

Posted at 9:32 AM, Feb 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-25 15:09:55-04

The only member of an Arizona firefighting crew to survive a deadly 2013 wildfire has a new job in which he says he hopes to help others with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Brendan McDonough was on lookout duty away from 19 other Granite Mountain Hotshots when they descended into a brush-choked area. They were killed when rapidly moving flames from the Yarnell Hill Fire overtook their position on June 30.

The firefighters all worked for the Prescott Fire Department.

McDonough recently started working for the Boise, Idaho-based Wildland Firefighters Foundation.

He told The Daily Courier that he'll speak from personal experience as he works to raise funds and awareness about wildland firefighters who deal with PTSD.

"I'm dealing with my own battle with PTSD," McDonough said. "It's nowhere near what a soldier deals with, but I do have my dreams."

He said his goal is to take care of firefighters and their families.

Burk Minor, an official with the foundation, said McDonough is an asset in helping wildland firefighters.

"He will be working with others with post-traumatic stress," Minor said.

McDonough said his message will be mostly positive.

"I'm doing well," McDonough said. "There's always going to be the tragedy. But there are so many opportunities to help others. Obviously, I've been through a lot, but there is no challenge that I won't be able to overcome."

McDonough's last day as a Prescott employee was Jan. 24, city spokesman Pete Wertheim said.

Acting Prescott Fire Chief Eric Kriwer said McDonough resigned and was in good standing when he left his city job.

McDonough is "a part of the Fire Department family, and we wish him the best," Kriwer said.

McDonough said he still has strong bonds with Prescott Fire Department personnel and continues to live in Prescott while also spending time in Boise.

"I don't think of it as leaving," he said. "It is more or less moving on. I still talk to a lot of the people."