City spokesman: Elite crew member to survive Arizona fire was serving as lookout

The Associated Press
Associated Press

PRESCOTT, Ariz. - Fire officials say the lone survivor on an elite Arizona firefighting crew was on a hilltop serving as a "lookout," and was in charge of relaying key information to his colleagues.

Brendan McDonough was in his third season with the 20-member, Prescott-based firefighting unit. Nineteen members of the crew died Sunday while fighting a wildfire.

Wade Ward, spokesman for city of Prescott, says McDonough "did exactly what he was supposed to."

He says McDonough notified the other Hotshots that the weather was changing rapidly and that the fire had switched direction because of the wind. McDonough also told his fellow crew members that he was leaving the immediate area to get to a "safety zone."

Ward received a standing ovation as he implored the media: "Please leave him alone."