Yarnell Hill Fire: Arizona Wants More Federal Money After Ignoring Feds' Refusal to Deploy Granite Mountain Hotshots (Video)

Categories: News analysis

yarnell-hill-helicopter.jpg
Courtesy of the AZSF
A helicopter takes off to help with fire suppression efforts during the Yarnell Hill Fire.
In the days and weeks following the deaths of 19 out of 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots in the Yarnell Hill Fire, Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona officials have pushed for federal disaster money to help foot the bill for the fire-recovery effort.

In early August, FEMA denied Arizona's request for funds, angering Brewer and other politicians, including senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

But in this week's cover story, John Dougherty reports the city of Prescott had been running the hotshot crew on a shoestring budget while collecting federal grant money and reimbursement funds before the Yarnell Hill tragedy.

The city got reimbursed $39 an hour per man while the crew was deployed on state and federal land. Fourteen of the 20 hotshots (the seasonal members of the crew) earned just $12 to $15 an hour. And of the city's Wildland Division 2013 budget of $1.35 million, Prescott contributed $317,000, Dougherty reports.

State officials also disregarded a federal refusal to authorize sending the Granite Mountain Hotshots in to the Yarnell Hill Fire.

"Dispatch logs show that the Granite Mountain crew should not have been deployed to fight the Yarnell Hill Fire," writes Dougherty. "The federal Southwest Coordinating Center in Albuquerque -- in charge of dispatching hotshot crews based in Arizona and New Mexico -- refused Arizona's repeated requests to send the unit to Yarnell."

Despite being denied authorization to send the crew in to the fire, the Arizona State Forestry Division contacted the Granite Mountain crew's superintendent, Eric Marsh, directly and asked him to send in his team. He complied.

All but one member of the hotshot crew, spotter Brendan McDonough, died when a strong thunderstorm with high winds whipped the fire into a frenzy and sent it directly toward the hotshots. According to Dougherty, speculation is that the hotshots left their relatively safe location in a burned out tract of land and hiked into a canyon with dense chaparral in order to save a ranch in the area.

But what exactly the motivation was is unknown.

See Also: A Granite Mountain Hotshot's Father Says the Blaze That Incinerated His Son Could've Been Controlled
See Also: Closer Look: How 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots Died in the Yarnell Hill Fire (Slideshow)

Yarnell Hill Fire: Granite Mountain Hotshots Funeral Procession, July 7, 2013 from Voice Media Group on Vimeo.



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14 comments
Bnbk
Bnbk

McCain,Gosar and Jeff(my kid goes on racist rants on youtube) Flake, are now crying foul because FEMA will not grant disaster aid for the deserving victims of the Yarnell Hill fire. Well these three jokers were playing partisan politics when they all three voted against Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.All three claimed we did not have the funds and pushed efforts to reduce funds for FEMA. Well the three stooges got their wish. It's too bad the obstructionist Republi-Cons we have representing Arizona can't get beyond catering to their extremist Teabagger base and actually vote for policies that are benificial to all of their constituants. How many wildfires do we have to have in AZ for these BOZOS to realize,that at one point or another,Arizonans will be affected by these natural disasters. It's too bad our fellow Arizonans in Yarnell will be paying the price for the political games these three insist on playing. HEY,McCain,Gosar,Flake,cut the Bull and do the job you were elected to do !

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

What you wanna bet the Grizzled One (Gov. Glug Glug) got a call from the Forestry Division and was asked about sending the Hot Shot crew out there when it was not warranted!!! 

Bet she made the call.

Marilee Cornelius
Marilee Cornelius

This isn't just about "Arizona", though: This is about NINETEEN firefighters -- real people with real families -- that were killed because they were only following orders. This is about REAL men who lost their lives and the REAL families that now have to live with that. This is so much more than just politics. No, those men should not have been sent to fight that fire, but they were only following orders. They should not be punished, nor should their families.

dogbiter
dogbiter

The two school marms react: One hopes Yourproduct sucks is kidding... because there's really nothing wrong with starting a sentence with a conjunction, unless one writes in Old English. As for the lame lament that JohnQ always spouts... why is this even posted 'cause it's nothing new? Actually it is something new as Hirricaneric schools. And, besides, JohnQ, it's abaout chasing web hits. That's the way publications stay in business nowadays. Nothing sinister or new about that. So could you please shut up on that point. Please! Every time I see your bald head, I want to slap it. 

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

Is it just me or do these recent articles on the Hotshots' deaths carry just a hint of scandal?

Todd Leith
Todd Leith

I hope the fed gov doesn't give a DIME to my home state of AZ...... Let us clean up our own goddamned mess.... besides, wouldn't it be "soshalust" of us take "guvmint" money?

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

I'm confused about what new information this article adds to the information already presenting in the Dougherty article and why this piece was even posted.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@dogbiter  Please feel free - slap away.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

@hurricaneric  Oh, its a summary of the information that PNT has already published across multiple articles.  Thanks for clearing that up.

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