Yarnell Hill Fire: The 10-year anniversary
June 26, 2023
Brendan McDonough, a member of Granite Mountain Hotshots, discussed the 10-year anniversary of the Yarnell Hill Fire on Arizona Horizon.
Ignited by dry lightning on June 28, 2013, the wildfire was later known as the Yarnell Hill Fire due to its proximity to Yarnell, Arizona. On June 30, it overran and killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
Just one of the hotshots on the crew survived, Brendan McDonough, who was posted as a lookout on the fire and was not with the others when the fire overtook them. The Yarnell Hill Fire was one of the deadliest wildfires in the U.S. It was also the largest loss of firefighters since 9/11.
McDonough said he has received so much support from the community as well as internationally, and he has met so many people these past 10 years.
“There hasn’t been somewhere I haven’t traveled that hasn’t made an impact somewhere in one form or another,” McDonough said.
McDonough affectionately called the other firefighters who perished his “brothers” and wants them to be remembered for more than how they passed away. He wanted them to be honored for how they loved their families and the passion they had for the work they did.
McDonough said there has been a movement for how firefighters are handling wildfires stemming from the incident. He said the issues of fair pay and better benefits for firefighters, along with mental healthcare, has also been addressed following the Yarnell Hill Fire.
“Firefighters face some of the highest suicide rates. It’s a really small community, but some of the mental health issues are amongst the highest that you see,” McDonough said.
There were past reports that the crew members had issues with communication which is what may have been a factor in the deaths of the firefighters. McDonough said they may never know and understand what really happened.