Hero firefighter Brooke Linman talks about Gov. Jerry Brown's pardon, overcoming her past

Linman saved teen in 2007 Harris Fire

SAN DIEGO - A hero firefighter is speaking out for the first time since a Christmas Eve pardon by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

10News first introduced you to an injured Brooke Linman in 2007 after she was credited with helping save a teenager's life during the Harris Fire.

Clutching a charred badge, Linman sat down with 10News reporter Michael Chen in 2007 while still recovering from serious burns and skin grafts.

On the first day of the Harris Fire, she and a small group of California Department of Forestry firefighters were in Potrero, evacuating Thomas Varshock and his teenage son, Richard, when flames overran the engine.

"We all had to pick what piece of fire we were going to run through, and that's what we did," Linman said in the 2007 interview.

Varshock died, but his son would survive, with Linman being recognized for her actions in helping save his life.

Now, Linman is talking about the program that saved her own life some two decades earlier.

"I was a young, naive girl with low self-esteem," said Linman.

At age 20, Linman was facing firearms, drug and theft charges, after she sat in a car that was involved in a shootout. She had refused to turn on her boyfriend, who was a gang member.

Instead of jail, she was sent to what's known as "Fire camp," where inmates are trained to fight fires.

"It helped me see there was a lot more I could do with my life. It gave me focus," said Linman.

After two and a half years, she was released, went to school, and then applied to CDF -- past crimes and all -- and became a firefighter.

Recently, she applied for and received a pardon for her past crimes from Brown.

"It was a wonderful Christmas gift. It's more symbolic for me. It was something I wanted to close that chapter of my life with ... I want to show people that yes, this happened, but this is where I'm at now," said Linman.

Linman hopes that by sharing her story, she can show others it's possible to turn a life around.

"Just like I say with the fire, I would take all those burns again if it would help another person; same thing, if this changes somebody's life for the better so be it," said Linman.

She was medically retired from CDF in 2010 and has just been accepted to San Diego State University.

Linman is hoping to become a therapist to help those suffering from PTSD, as well as burn survivors.

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