Sole firefighter to survive Washington blaze finds love and healing

ORTING, Washington -- Last year, firefighter Daniel Lyon faced the unimaginable when blinding smoke from a massive wildfire caused the engine he was riding in to crash.

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Daniel before the fire.

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 “All you see at that point is flames. And the intense feeling that just -- your entire body is burning,” said Daniel, who was the only one to make it out of the crash alive. 

Daniel’s parents, Dan and Barbara, vividly remember the phone call from another firefighter.
 
“He said it looked like Daniel came as an angel running out of the flames of hell,” Dan told CBS News’ Carter Evans. 
 
A year after the fire, Daniel is recovering from burns over nearly 70 percent of his body. His sight was saved by his now-singed sunglasses. 

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A watch on Daniel’s arm protected part of his skin from the blaze. “I kind of have a natural tattoo on my wrist now,” he joked.

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Daniel has now undergone 14 surgeries at Seattle’s Harborview Burn Center. “I feel like I’ve come a long ways, but I also got a really, really long way to go.”
                                 
He’s also still dealing with the loss of his fellow firefighters, and the guilt of being the lone survivor.

“Survivor’s guilt’s a real thing. You constantly ask yourself ‘Why am I here, and they’re not? Why was I given a second chance, and they didn’t get that second chance?’”
 
But his recovery is now more than just about survival. 
 
Before the accident, Megan Lanfear was just a casual friend of Daniel’s. But the friendship soon turned into something more. 

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Daniel and his girlfriend, Megan.

CBS News

“Your friend’s in a fire, or any kind of accident, you’re gonna want to be there for him,” Megan explained. “After all he’s been through, he still always has a smile on his face. And he’s super strong. He’s a really good person.” 

“The biggest thing that she does for me is helps me emotionally and mentally,” Daniel said of Megan. 

“He shows me love, respect,” Megan continued. “He’s the best boyfriend.”
 
Fire can destroy, but it can also regenerate. And out of the ashes, something special has bloomed.