State Forestry Division Apologizes for "Unauthorized Opinions" on Hotshots' Deaths

Categories: News
yarnell-distance.jpg
Arizona State Forestry Division
The location where the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots died, as seen from U.S. 89.


The Arizona State Forestry Division apologized for the "unauthorized opinions" one of its employees gave to former New Times reporter John Dougherty about the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Heaven forbid the public gets answers outside of the Official Government Report™.

See also:
-Hotshots Leader Violated Safety Protocols Prior to Firefighters' Deaths

Dougherty spoke with Jerry Payne, the Arizona State Forestry Division deputy director, who noted that the leader of the Granite Mountain Hotshots crew apparently ignored several wildfire-safety rules.

Payne also said that a lot of calculated risks are taken by those who fight wildfires, and he told Dougherty he wasn't sure that he would've done anything differently if he was in that situation.

Marsh led the crew into a box canyon, with a ranch just a few hundred yards away and residential housing beyond that. The crew may have anticipated having about an hour to reach the safety zone, at the ranch, but with the fire moving at 12 mph, that hour turned into minutes, and they were overrun by the fire in that canyon.

"It was a calculated risk. They didn't even make it halfway," Payne told Dougherty. "It was a serious miscalculation, in my opinion. It was an honest mistake."

These comments, however, were not approved by The Government.

The Forestry Division sent out a press release apologizing for Payne's "unauthorized opinions."

Here's exactly what the agency has to say:
The Arizona State Forestry Division (AZSF) has received numerous inquiries in reference to personal unauthorized opinions made by Deputy State Forester Jerry Payne regarding the Yarnell Hill Fire fatalities.

State Forester Scott Hunt wants to make it clear that State Forestry has taken no position on the causes of the fatalities and awaits the results of the two independent investigations that are currently being conducted by the Serious Accident Investigation Team and Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health.

State Forestry apologizes for Mr. Payne's inappropriate expression of opinion as fact and unfounded speculation that prejudges the ultimate conclusion of the investigation. The investigation reports are expected to be released in the coming months.
UPDATE 11:10 a.m.: Dougherty posted to the InvestigativeMEDIA website that he stands by his story.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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12 comments
PayneIsRight
PayneIsRight

Just wait until the "Official" report supports what Mr. Payne had to say.  Right now this apology is just PC posturing.

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

Dougherty making hay on the backs of fallen heroes and the loved ones lef behind. sad state of affairs

marcy
marcy

Who is in charge of authorizing opinions?

Kyle Hague
Kyle Hague

apology? its not like they tried to shame the one surviving member by reporting some old criminal infraction of his...

Trudy Vick Phillips
Trudy Vick Phillips

I don't know why all the news stations felt they had to comment on this yesterday- they could have waited a day- it turned all the attention off of the memorial yesterday. Shame on them.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

I clicked through and read John Dougherty's full article and the primary thing that it brought home for me is that I miss his writing at PNT and PNT is less of a paper in his absence.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Dougherty providing families with honest answers about the demise of their loved ones  that they may not otherwise get from "official" sources.  I guess its just a matter of perspective.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

The Senior Director of Opinion Authorizations, obviously.  He, of course, reports to the Vice President of Officially Authorized Opinions who, in-turn, reports to the COO - the Chief Opinion Officer who sits on the executive team, duh.

boingo
boingo

Yep.  The overall level of journalism and writing at PNT over the last few years has really gone downhill.  They used to have such a great stable of writers and were a beacon of investigative journalism in the Valley.  Now many of their feature stories are from a pool of national Voice writers, with the same story appearing in multiple weeklies across the country.  There's barely anything to actually *read* anymore.  Really disappointing....

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@wtf  I disagree.  I like most of what Monica and Ray and Matthew write.  I used to really enjoy the deeper investigative reporting that they did - it was clearly better invetigated and written than the Republic's.  But that was the days of Dougherty, Rubin and Silverman.  While there is still some of that, the emphasis seems to be on hourly blog posts, which I enjoy too, but I miss some of the deeper reporting.  Maybe its just a different era with the internet demanding more content more often. 

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