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Severely burned firefighter finally going home: ‘I can’t climb mountains right now, but I can climb hills’

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SEATTLE -- The firefighter severely burned in the Okanagan County fires spoke about his struggle to survive on Wednesday.

Firefighter Daniel Lyon walked into a room at Harborview very slowly but all by himself with no help. He spoke clearly about the tragedy with reporters immediately after being discharged from Harborview.

Three months prior doctors were not sure if Lyon would even survive.

“It felt great walking outside today, feeling the fresh air, it is something you take for granted,” Lyon said.

Lyon suffered burns to more than 60% of his body while battling the wildfires near Twisp.

“August 19th was definitely the scariest day of my life,” Lyon said.

That's the day Lyon and three of his firefighter friends were caught in a firestorm. Their truck crashed down a 40-foot embankment and the forest fire surrounded them.

“Those guys are the reason why I am here today. For Andrew, Tom and Rick, their families, I don’t want their legacies to stop here,” Lyon said.

Lyon, a first year firefighter, is the lone survivor. Andrew Zajac, Richard Wheeler, Tom Zbyszewski were all killed. Lyon says love from his parents and even strangers has gotten him through.

“Hundreds of cards supporting me; some that I know, some I’ve never met before,” Lyon said.

So far he's had 11 surgeries.

“He has taught us with hard work anything is possible,” dad Daniel Lyon Sr. said.

Known for his independence, Lyon realizes life at home will be hard.

“Right now my hands are my biggest struggle, I can’t move them a whole lot,” Lyon said.

Doctors amputated several of his fingertips and Lyon will wear a custom-made mask to limit scarring on his face

“He has to wear that 23 hours of the day; the idea is that it puts pressure on the scars,” Dr. Nicole Gibran said.

Despite burns to more than 60% of his body, the 25 year-old has every intention of beating the odds.

“I can’t climb mountains but I can climb hills,” Lyon said.

Although his body is healing, the loss of his friends is still an open wound.

“Those guys are on my mind on a constant basis, the pain of that is definitely way harder than any physical pain you can imagine,” Lyon said.

Lyon says when he is fully recovered, he plans to pursue a career in law enforcement. He also talked about fire safety, asking people to be cautious while lighting a campfire or fireworks. He says many of the forest fires are preventable.