Posted: Sep 28, 2013 8:06 PM by CNN
A new report due for release Saturday will shed light on how 19 elite firefighters died fighting fires in Arizona in July of this year.
The Arizona State Forestry Division commissioned the interagency report.
It all started with a strike of lightning. From there the Yarnell Hill Fire blew through thousands of acres of land northwest of Phoenix, destroying more than 100 homes.
On June 31, with winds out of the south and low humidity, 20 firefighters went to work. Only one returned. Not since September 11, 2001, had the nation lost so many firefighters in one day.
The men made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group that routinely hiked miles with 40 pounds of equipment to do their jobs.
At the time, officials said a shift in winds caused the fire to behave erratically. One of the firefighters radioed in, saying they were going to deploy their fire shelters, an aluminum protective device used as a last resort.
Brendan McDonough served as a lookout that day. He saw the fire change directions and warned his team. According to protocol, McDonough told the others he was leaving. Officials say his actions saved his life by mere seconds.
Gov. Jan Brewer said the deaths represented "as dark a day as I can remember." A 100-mile procession brought their bodies from the state capitol, through the community where they perished and back to their hometown of Prescott. Their loss felt especially acutely there as the 19 represented 20% of the city's fire department.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a memorial service attended by thousands. The Granite Mountain Hotshots realized, Biden said that integrity "is measured by whether you respond to the needs of your neighbors."