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Firefighter remembers the brothers he lost

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-05 21:04:12-04
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Nineteen men died when the Yarnell Hill Wildfire swept over the elite Granite Mountain Hotshots.  That moment on June 30th, almost three years ago made the Yarnell Hill Fire the deadliest ever in Arizona.
 
One firefighter survived.
 
When strong winds made the fire grow in a flash, and changed its direction, Brendan Mc Donough was scouting ahead of the fire so he did not die with the nineteen men he calls his brothers.  Now, almost three years after their deaths, he is telling his story, and theirs, in a book called "My Lost Brothers."
 
Brendan McDonough says the brotherhood he found with the Granite Mountain Hotshots anchored a life drifting into trouble.  Then fire took the brothers and mentors fighting fire brought to his life.
 
"I lost people that stood behind me in every different way and wanted to see me be a better person and were there for that process.  So when I lost them that was all gone.  In the book it mentions about my history before being a drug addict.  That support that got me out of that was gone."
      
Struggling to understand why the fire moved and grew, the decisions firefighters made, and why he lived and his friends died, he found peace by letting go.
 
"There's things that happen in life I can't control that I don't have power over and I need to accept that I'm here for a reason and that reason is what God knows.  That's the only reason that I know."
      
Now he lives in the memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
 
"Replacing my brothers will never happen.  It's something I can't avoid, I can't feel. But what I can do to make life better is to continue to live their legacy and have the new mentors I have now."
     
That includes working with charities to help firefighters and their families.  
 
June 30th it will be three years since the Yarnell Hill Fire took the men who meant so much.
 
Brendan Mc Donough thinks each year will bring less pain and more joy in the memories of his brothers that live on with him.