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They deployed their emergency shelters but perished in the scorching heat.
The surviving crew member, Brendan McDonough, was away from the others and acting as a lookout. He might have suffered the same fate had he not been picked up by another crew leader who happened to be driving by after McDonough radioed in to say he was retreating, Krotenberg said.
"Essentially, it was in the nick of time, and he didn’t have to deploy his shelter," Krotenberg said.
The report praised the Granite Mountain Hotshots for remaining "alert, unimaginably calm, thinking clearly and taking decisive action." While the crew followed most of standard firefighting guidelines, the safety agency faulted the men for not scouting or timing alternative escape routes, not having a lookout as they moved toward a ranch property identified as a safety zone, and not notifying their supervisor of their movements.
The fire destroyed more than 100 homes and burned 13 square miles before it was fully contained on July 10.
Dan Parker, whose son Wade Parker was killed, is a firefighter himself in northern Arizona. He said it’s time for the state "to change the coach."
"As far as blaming somebody at this point, right now, on a personal level, I think it’s futile," Parker said. "But having been a captain on a fire engine, and worked in the fire service as long as I have, I know that if I was involved in an incident where somebody was injured or killed, then my butt would have been on the hot seat and I would have been held accountable."
Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Ariz.
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