Movie chronicles mission and final sacrifice of the Granite Mountain Hotshots

Four years ago, 19 firefighters were killed when a fire burning in Arizona changed direction. Small individual shelters were not enough to protect them that day. Their mission -- and their final sacrifice -- is now the story behind a new motion picture.

KUSA - Wildfires across the west share a common danger. There's very little that is predictable when the wind starts to shift and the fire moves quickly and erratically.

That was the case with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, when 19 members of that group were killed when a 2013 fire burning in Arizona changed direction.

Their mission, and their final sacrifice, is now the story behind a new motion picture titled “Only the Brave.”

The movie shares their stories and also the story of Brendan McDonough, the lone survivor of that group who was working on an assignment away from his unit that fateful day.

“Honor the wildland firefighters and what they sacrificed,” said McDonough from the red carpet in Denver on Wednesday.

The movie had an early screening in the Mile High City Wednesday. Producers from the movie say it’s because of its proximity to Arizona.

Miles Teller, who plays McDonough in the movie, was there as well as fellow stars Josh Brolin, Jennifer Connelly and James Badge Dale.

Jeff Bridges also plays a starring role.

“I'll just be thinking about the great times that we had and just seeing it,” McDonough said. “You know it’s something that goes through my head and something I'm really thankful for.”

Colorado can relate to the movie. In 1994 the Spring Canyon fire just west of Glenwood Springs killed 12 firefighters.

“There is definitely a connection too,” said Captain Travis Hopwood of West Metro Fire Rescue.

Hopwood was one of dozens of Colorado first responders invited to the early screening at the Universal Artists Theater near the intersection of Colorado Boulevard and I-25.

He also worked alongside Doug Berg, a firefighter who came to WMFR after working in Arizona. He knew the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew well.

“We have a little bit of a close to home feel for this whole incident, so when we head they were going to do a movie about it there's some apprehension about how they'll portray it,” Hopwood said.

The movie premiers nationwide Oct. 20.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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