Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation Ignored Major Mistakes by the State

Categories: News

Yarnell-Cover-10.17.13.jpg
Illustration by Justin Renteria.
Former Yarnell Fire Chief Peter Andersen sat under a tree in his front yard having his morning coffee on Sunday, June 30, when the Granite Mountain Hotshots drove past his Glen Ilah home.

"At 8:03, [their] two buggies went by," Andersen says. "Right after they went by, the leaves started to blow. I shook my head. [The state] didn't listen to me."

Andersen, who resigned as Yarnell chief in 2011 after 12 years of service, was aggravated because he had warned an Arizona Forestry Division fire manager the night before that it was crucial to attack the steadily expanding fire in the hills above Yarnell at dawn, before prevailing southwesterly winds picked up about 8 in the morning.

Yarnell-Feature1-2-10.17.13.jpg
Courtesy of Joy Collura
Hikers took this photo of the Granite Mountain Hotshots marching up a trail at 9:18 a.m. on June 30.
"I said, this being summertime, it will give you three hours . . . without wind at your backs to be able to get this thing under control," Andersen says he told a fire manager.

Seeing the hotshots roll past so late on Sunday morning was yet another signal to Andersen that the Forestry Division was failing to aggressively attack a wildfire that started two days earlier.

See Also: Yarnell Hill Fire: Investigating the Deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots

All the ingredients for fire disaster were present: It was peak summer-burning season, the area had just sustained record-high temperatures, and the landscape was overgrown with chaparral, creating a tinderbox poised to explode.

Andersen says the lack of urgency to put out the fire caused him to wonder whether the state was content to let it burn through the dense chaparral that choked the gaps between massive granite boulders strewn across the Weaver Mountains that flank Yarnell to the west. The east slope of the mountains hadn't experienced a wildfire since 1966.

As the two white Granite Mountain vans drove on a narrow road that led to the base of the mountains, Andersen thought that fire managers were "doing a sloppy job" handling what he and other firefighters knew was a "volatile" situation.

The state's underwhelming effort to control the wildfire collapsed late Sunday afternoon when the prevailing southwesterly winds were replaced by powerful downdrafts from a thunderstorm approaching from the northeast. Weather forecasters issued a warning about the approaching storm to fire managers at 3:26 p.m. The warning was relayed to the Granite Mountain crew.

The 50 mile-per-hour downdrafts from the thunderstorm blew up a fire that had burned about 4,000 acres by 3 p.m. into an 8,000-acre conflagration a few hours later.

The three key environmental factors affecting wildfire behavior fell into perfect alignment: wind, fuel, and topography. The drought-stricken desert scrub, combined with the thunderstorm's powerful winds, generated a wall of flame that surged across relatively flat ground at about 12 miles per hour -- extraordinarily fast for a fire.

The powerful wind bent the 80-foot-high flames nearly parallel to the ground as the fire approached the base of the Weavers. The intensity and speed of the fire accelerated as it entered several box canyons that served as funnels, further amplifying its fury.

For reasons that remain unknown, the Granite Mountain Hotshots left their safe spot in a burned-over area on a ridge sometime after 4 p.m. and dropped down the side of the mountain. About 4:40 p.m., they hiked through dense chaparral at the base of one of the canyons, apparently attempting to reach Boulder Springs Ranch, which had been designated as a safety zone because the owners had cleared a wide swath of vegetation from around the property.

Suddenly, the fire swept around the northern flank of the canyon's wall and surged toward the 19 men, covering the last 100 yards in 19 seconds. The crew had less than two minutes to react to the 2,000-degree firestorm that quickly engulfed their position. There was no chance of survival.

Like tens of thousands of people who've closely examined the circumstances leading up to the hotshots' deaths, Anderson doesn't understand why the crew was in the box canyon in the first place, much less at a time of day when wildfires typically display their greatest intensity and when thunderstorm warnings had been issued.

"Anybody who has ever taken a wild-lands class is warned about box canyons," Andersen says. "You might as well be standing in a fireplace with the flue open."

The question of why the men were there haunts Andersen. And, he says, the lack of substantive conclusions in a report issued September 28 after a state-commissioned investigation into their deaths has left him unsatisfied.

"I think it's a big cover-up, a big snow job," he says. "It tries to take any semblance of blame off anybody."

Andersen evacuated from his home about the same time that the Granite Mountain crew deployed their fire shelters designed to withstand temperatures of about 300 degrees.
"The heat was so intense that it was choking me," Andersen says. "I could see [the fire] coming over the ridge . . . and you couldn't see the top of the column of smoke. And it was starting to slowly spin . . . like a slow tornado, throwing embers everywhere."

***


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
73 comments
jerseyswholesale
jerseyswholesale topcommenter

Dear friend

Now buy over 10 piece jerseys can enjoy free shipping! Buy over 25 piece jerseys you can get one jersey of free.Buy over 40 piece jerseys,can get two jerseys of free.

Buy over 15 piece shipping by DHL (4 days can receive)

NO suppliers cheaper than us!

New 2014 NFL man jersey (in stock) had updated.

New 2014 NFL man jersey (in stock) had updated.

Now had upload many beautiful Oakley Sunglasses, maybe can sell them get a lot of money!

In the new season jerseys wholesale from us, you can get the biggest profit

If you have any problem, please tell us by paylessjersey@hotmail.com or paylessjerseys@hotmail.com

Our website http://www.paylessjerseysuppliers.com

mike
mike

I have watched the MacKenzie video several times and one thing is striking.  The accepted narrative is that the crew was anxious to reengage fighting the fire in Yarnell, which is why they chose the path they did.  That video, short as it is, is telling a story, but not that story.  I see a crew that looks ambivalent at best about what they are doing or what they are about to do.  The subject of the conversation is not clear, but Marsh clearly indicates to Steed that he could sense discomfort.  Some of the crew looks disgusted.  Maybe I am reading too much into it knowing what did happen, but that video does not square with the conventional version of events.  I do not know what it means (and I have seen a lot of speculation), but that video bothers me a lot.

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

Tonight, I am very sad. I have tears in my eyes. (sobbing) There are nineteen men dead. I think of my own son Ted- yes, he is dead too. I know the pain. I know the feelings these people who had a loss- I know why Zach Ashoor cried when he heard all his friends died. It has torn my heart out. These men are so young. PLEASE the one that knows more- SHARE. How can the state take this so lightly? Until you have lost a son- who you love so dearly than only can you understand the PAIN--- I am so sad for the wives and families and friends. All you firemen that risk your lives- you are much like a man in the military----yes, you take risks and chances but we know there is something WRONG in this situation and we dearly need all the phone records and every piece of information for these people- PLEASE the lady from the red cross shelter- SPEAK UP!!!! Oh God, I hurt tonight- for those 19. GOD DID NOT DO THIS and THIS WAS NOT GOD'S PLAN- SOMEONE SCREWED UP AND SOMEONE IS COVERING UP!!!! Yes, I am an old miner, logger and cowboy and I have a college degree---but I weep- the sadness is so deep in my heart and this is so very sad and this can be stopped- PLEASE, speak up. We can only know the truth and nothing less---anyone and I mean anyone who knows something but is afraid- please talk. It is breaking my heart to see time go by when we know there are people who say they cannot speak and it would be so important if you did talk- 19 men are dead- I am weeping- it hurts my heart. PLEASE!!! Barbara from Red Cross Evacuation- please contact that lady and tell that lady to come forward- please.

preskitfam3
preskitfam3

The picture you have on the front of the article is horrible.  Don't you have any respect for these men and the others affected?  They will see the picture and always have it in their head.  You should really take it down ASAP!  You guys are not helping the grieving process at all...you are making it worse.  

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

Joy and Tex. As I revisit your photos that were published in the Daily Courier on July 21 I was wondering if picture #5 and picture #11 show a Granite Mountain Truck (the red and white one?) Thanks for responding to other questions I have asked. I also find it odd that Andrew Ashcraft's picture that was text at 216pm didn't make it into the SAIR .His picture shows the east to west slurry line that is also in Chris Mackenzie's photos #6 and # 7. In 216 picture slurry line looks the same as in Mackenzie pictures labeled at 250pm that show continuing retardant drop. I also took a second look at the text Ashcraft sent stating "I think I am  going to be down there a while on this one." It would seem they were planning to go "down" as early as 216pm. Thanks again!

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 10:24 AM many have asked and today local librarian asked if her family could use the photos for insurance purposes- ABSOLUTELY! Anyone affected by the fire can use my photos/videos- the only time I ask for courtesy credit if its used publicly but say you want to save the photos to make a scrapbook being I have fire line and the fires' progression shots- indeed- use them. I am deeply saddened that you all were affected by a fire that we saw turn from containable to the gates of hell. I am glad we helped 6-30-13 through this current date and if my photos help you- sure thing. I just do not want my photos to be used and I do not condone any negative use like lawsuits unless you are fully documented with many other sources and documents besides my materials. I want my photos/documents/testimony to be used in the betterment of preventing any future tragedies and with the names I shared as good solid testimonies besides us you do have some credibility folks to use for investigations/books/etc.

Yes, anyone can use the photos to do whatever optimistic agenda you have on your plate- just no rodeo of bullshit to pull it together to become some blame game- I love this state A R I Z O N A and even though you all can angle your agendas the way you may- I am 100% strong in supporting this state in a pure fashion. Arizona is my heart. Keep it simple.

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@bob_lablaw96 @sonnygillyxs @boltoflightning to answer that neither lived in Ojai. Joy has had Tex (Sonny) all over Arizona hiking and exploring since 2011 and the times we both spent our hikes in Sedona was not too long but this Spring 2013 we stayed near the Bell Rock at a man's guest home. We are not online voices/commenters.

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

this is Joy A. Collura- Willis stated "call it an accident...God had a different plan for that crew at this time..." REALLY??? that very statement is HOW I became involved. (12:35/14:41 of John Dougherty's piece on Willis) Has any of these official men hiked the area BEFORE or AFTER 6-30-13; that terrain was unusually odd in its maze-like density. Not Willis or any of the Prescott Fire Station has asked me to hike it with them but investigators, OSHA, journalists, reporters and authors have and in that I hope answers can be shed- odd isn't being I saw the GMHS that day- talked with them- and even found a bladder bag in the most odd boulderous spot near where Eric Marsh was most of the day- odd they never wanted my photos or hunted and looked for me as Brian Mockenhaupt was the ONLY person to date to hunt me- the rest got my email or number through networking...Yarnell Librarian Patti R. looks forward to reading Brian's piece-

I never met Willis ever- all I got was this one email communication of his qualifications and expression of compassion to us-

we are to be kind to each other, to love each other, to help each other, to pay attention to each, to notice each other, to comfort each other, to put our arms around each other, to bless each other, to salute the Divinity within each other. I can’t even begin to explain how important we are to God’s plan, and how important we are to bringing each other to Higher Ground. We need to stop seeing ourselves as singular; we are ONE within the body of Christ. We are to be ONE regardless of race, culture, background, ethnicity, and on and on. We are ONE! God will always get His truth revealed...

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@mike @johnnywebb13 I hiked and spent time with John Dougherty 9-15-13 and he is not saying this or that caused the 19 deaths---what he is doing is helping the people---not just 19 who died but hundreds who were affected by 6-30-13 Yarnell Fire- same reason Sonny and Joy share their "eye-witness" of that very day and we were there at the fire line and had to make the same decision at that very spot by the saddle. He is just an instrument to so many hundreds that are trying to gather documents to make sure all areas are exhausted so that so many feel this was a fully investigated situation- I truly understood all your points and valid yet there are people we know for they lead private lives or cannot for some reason or another come forward and if they see this is "FRESH" in the media as time unfolds versus brushed under a rug- those people will see the importance of their testimony. Especially the woman who Red Cross Barbara B. knows- that lady can shed some light beyond the fire 6-30-13. There is too many important testimonies that want to share but in this modern society are nervy in doing it. Many are not privy---may it be against their life's programming yet we stand strong before God and state the ones who say to them and us "aren't you afraid of disappearing or discrediting?" and my answer to both is this when you have the TRUTH- not only does it set you free and give you the peace that you do not have to run in your mind the fears of nowhere to run---my response is run at them. The more your voice(s) are heard- it erodes the power; secret knowledge equals power than feeds egos. People are counting on us to be their voice and they have a right to know and a need to know. We are appalled by the 9-28-13 investigation report yet relieved that the truth will prevail in His time. America is seeing less togetherness and more busy ways or too relaxed ways and more cardboard tasting meals and chemically made or genetically altered healthy foods (veggies and fruits)  or feed into pagan Holidays and in it the beauty of America is our abilities to free thought- free will- our souls and our spirituality- our freedom to love and care so strong and so deep as to not take a single cent at anytime in the aftermath to find the answers these people need; freedom lives on. Joy is a Congress woman yet the Glen Ilah/Yarnell community has been a part of her Summers and bible studies since 2005. Tex just began hiking that area in June 2013. We have no emotional ties to the 19 (nor know any of them just a brief few meet/greet times 6-30-13 with GMH) or a lot affected yet we made it our purpose to be there for them in so many ways freely. From cleaning up debris/trash/ash, fixing septics/water lines/propane tanks, tree and shrub removal, relocating spiders/rattlesnakes/bobcat/skunks for free for folks, pulling weeds, roof repairs, planting, delivering fridges and care packages and appliances and furniture, helping United Way and the YHRG with their delivery or volunteer needs, to delivering the true needs to many, etc. We have to state there is zero ego in us helping nor anything to gain yet HOPES we do see answers surface to get this investigation properly assessed- We are so humble by the many private and public supportive messages and our main focus is to the elements of that 6-30-13 and you all can disregard 2 human perceptions of that day but you cannot deny the photos and the videos that were not stolen- remember I have a $5,000 reward for the return of that sd card as well as my other hiking gear stuff/organic foods/Tex's cowboy gear. It is imperative to all that have a voice to speak up- to leave the investigation report as acceptable as is---that is simply corrupt. True in life, we all have the RIGHT to remain silent yet in this case where so many have questions I know YOU can answer- you have the RESPONSIBILTY and the DUTY to speak up- Knowledge has been kept hidden long enough- Regardless what your belief is- do not become a part of this fear, this hypnotic robotic ways of so many- you want peace of mind than rest the authority over mind control and fears and share your 6-30-13 day and as well that weekend. Our photos/videos and our eye-witness views are validated and pure- and we cannot let this remain like so many in History did as well as Willis stated at the media briefing in July GOD HAD THEIR PLAN...and when he stated people need to do their defensible spaces but the very area they died was state land and that NEEDED defensible space- most unusual density maze-like terrain and look at the history of that- it was granted to be done but take the time to read about that-

besides the people affected by the Yarnell Hill fire 6-30-13 and the firefighters/hotshots/smokejumpers all over the world and humanity; they all deserve this time to have this finally investigated deeper than what we saw 9-28-13. 100% transparency needed- the report was a disservice to so many. Let folks eyes open to the truth versus the smoke/mirror solution shown in 9-28-13 investigation report.

On Willis talking to media stating they were anchoring the fire. We and others saw them at lunch/standby with minimal areas with cuttings on the ridge area on the small fire area and on the Congress side some cuttings- so to state they worked all day- not from our eye-witness view and as well as others. The fire behavior picked up earlier than what report states- "Normal people can't walk through..." yet a heavy set lady and an old college educated (psychology/religion/geology;p.h.d.)cowboy/miner/logger did many times yet it IS a maze and time consuming and so to label just the "elite"...really?...go to minute marker 3:43 of part 1 of John Dougherty's youtube and he states the boulders I always mention---WHY would you head down time consuming maze manzanaita versus scaling the boulders with the fire in sight? please- anyone? Horse doo doo when he says they worked all day and they weren't doing good where they were at- they are wildland firefighters not structural- and he said where they went down, they said the fire is totally blocked from their views- there is alot of other factors he says---than he said Brendan was behind the ridge but I do not think he was at the old grader like people have told me...I saw activity near Sesame Street from the mountaintop and one day I hope to see his gps coordinates surface- than once I learn that gps coordinate than I can tell you how long it takes from point a to b BEFORE the fire destroyed it for I have hiked it for years- Part 2 video at 3:33 listen to him state 20 minutes off it and more up it- WRONG! We know that area and I have hiked with avid hikers and runners and even them they could not --even OSHA Brett Steurer did not do it in that time AFTER the brush was gone so that was wrong.

Stevo-Wayne Downey
Stevo-Wayne Downey

People need to realize.... it was inevitable..... I lost a great friend that day..... wade parker..... they went in knowing their odds.... the fucking media is twisting this story so bad it makes me fucking sick...... fuck your damned media ratings!!!!!!

dennis1007
dennis1007

It's clear in these comments that parties interested in butt-covering -- jtw233 and possibly mike -- are trying everything they can to discredit John Dougherty's spot-on reporting, to the point of claiming his experts, with decades of experience and big jobs wildfire suppression, aren't really experts. Won't work! You guys want to avoid liability by killing the messenger. But you're just making things worse for officials who made mistakes. Nobody with a brain believes you.

pfalsone
pfalsone

Bailey: Because the fire had burned many structures in the Yarnell area & was still threatening the town. 

baileysuchacek
baileysuchacek

I haven't heard it brought up (might of missed it), but what were they doing fighting that fire in the first place? I thought it was policy to let NATURAL caused forest fires burn, and fight MAN-MADE forest fires. The Yarnell fire was caused by lightning...

johnnywebb13
johnnywebb13

Based on this story and others in this series, I hope these young Hotshots start demanding accountability from those who exploit them for ridiculously low wages and send them, picks and shovels in hand, into extreme danger!

IZKnows
IZKnows

The State is to blame because they don't listen.  In fact, DFBLS misappropriated $1.3 million in funds and the Director and Deputy Director gave themselves a huge raise.  Finally, the Deputy Director was fired and the Fire Director demoted.  They lied and covered it all up and no one was the wiser.  The Forestry Div/ Dept. of Fire, Building & Life Safety was the teacher.  So, covering up the Yarnell fire was an easier task for all of them. 

hurricaneric
hurricaneric moderator

Via e-mail feedback:

I worked with John Dougherty providing information about the management of the Yarnell Fire. At one point discussing the fire size up it became questionable whether Russ Shumate was able to physically be on site to size up the fire since he was in his office. Based on this information, I made a statement (paraphrased) it would be negligence to not physically size up the fire and some could get killed as a result.

Later we discovered that the Doce air attack did the initial size up of the Yarnell Fire. I feel accountable for providing a statement and quote that is hurtful to the Arizona State Forestry and Russ Shumate since the fire size up by the Doce air attack is common and in no way reflective of any negligence on their part or would contribute to the fatalities.

I accept the full blame for this miscommunication error.  John was thorough providing more than reasonable substance for his story and quotes.

I alone apologize to Russ Shumate and the Arizona State Forestry for any hurt caused by my error in communication with John that was published in his recent article.


I have the utmost respect for John and the work he is providing new and important information about the Yarnell Fire Fatalities.

Paul Orozco.


jakepetersen12
jakepetersen12

I disagree with Mike--the state has always been blamed primarily in these New Times articles. Truth is, the handling of the Yarnell Hill Fire was a clusterfuck, with plenty of mistakes to go around.

mike
mike

I will get pummeled for this, but I think this series of articles has mostly been a big swing and a miss.  The villain changes with each and every one. First it was Eric Marsh in the Jerry Payne story.  Then Chief Willis was front and center.  Now it is the state forestry officials.  There is no consistent narrative as to what the author thinks happened, rather each story just seems designed to keep the story alive on his website.  I really do not think the stories have gotten us really closer to the truth of what happened.  Rather a lot of stuff has been thrown out there, most of it not related to why 19 men died. 

Sure if the fire had been put out earlier, 19 men would likely be alive.  But the point is, they should still be alive even fighting the big fire.  The proximate cause of their deaths was not fighting the fire that Sunday per se, but the decisions made while doing so.  We cannot use hotshot crews on every 1-2 acre fire.  They are a valuable resource that is already often overtaxed and we are told does not get enough rest.  I doubt the forestry officials did everything right.  But to lay these 19 deaths at their feet really seems to be a stretch. 

Obviously the fire command that Sunday should be critically examined.  It is their job to make sure disasters like this do not happen.  The lack of communication cited as a factor is in part their failing.  But it appears Granite Mountain shared responsibility in this.  The very nature of wildfire fighting, especially in changing circumstances, is going to place some decision-making with the crews who are on the front line. 

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

I have a few issues not discussed in this article. Mr Dougherty reported that he received an email from Chief Willis stating he had no comment with Eric Marsh or Jesse Steed on June 30. Now we know he was structure protection group supervisor #1 and was in continuous contact with GM that day according to SAIR .  Also  wind speed increased and started changing direction as noted by hikers as early as 1238. The weather report issued at 1402 seems to have been overlooked! The SAIR seems to point to the 1526 weather report as the crucial weather report. The surviving lookout seems to be describing the 1402 weather report delivered to him by Steed in his words around 1450. The SAIR describes this as happening at 1545. Review the interview with The Daily Courier and compare times with report and the hikers observations. Also, when Marsh relayed they were moving, Blue Ridge superintendent says the road you saw me on earlier and Marsh says yes. Was Blue Ridge on the North or west side of the mountains that day? If not, why the misunderstanding? This article identifies several contributing factors, but the loss of 19 men would have been prevented if they had not gone into the unburned area. Thank you Mr Dougherty for your persistence.

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

If there is anyone out there with information please come forward. Many people know the truth remains untold. Sorry for this rough nigh. Sorry to all the wifes, parents and children of the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots as well as their friends. Godspeed!!

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

Pleaseshare l any and all information you have. The truth has been kept quiet too long. I am sorry you are having a tough night Mr Gilligan. Thank you for all your efforts and transparency. Godspeed!

wortham
wortham

What would you prefer the illustration to be: a lamb in a fire hat. Or maybe a little puppy dog.

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa  picture #5 that is the bulldozer that was active that day, the fire dept truck and the BR vehicle- no, the Granite Mountain Crew Buses were near not next to these vehicles - appx. 1 mile away- SE direction from this actual photo of these vehicles. and #11 is the same vehicles later time---the only areas we saw ACTIVE that day from our point even though both Tex (Sonny) and Joy saw on hike with OSHA some cuttings- Tex calls them on the old fire break ridge; minor work to show someone how to use a saw for 5-10 minutes but nothing serious-

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@sonnygillyxs

On Willis talking to media stating they were anchoring the fire. We and others saw them at lunch/standby with minimal areas with cuttings on the ridge area on the small fire area and on the Congress side some cuttings- so to state they worked all day- not from our eye-witness view and as well as others. UPDATED 11-16-13 4:22PM- WE ARE MAKING CORRECTION THANK YOU TO AN EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONAL HEART-FILLED HIKE WITH RETIRED FIREFIGHTERS WAYNE AND HOLLY NEILL AND RETIRED SMOKEJUMPER/LEAD INVESTIGATOR IN FIRE FATALITIES YESTERDAY 11-15-13- THEY PROVED IN ACTION THAT THE GMHS DID MUCH CUTTINGS NOT MINOR CUTTINGS AND THEY FLAGGED AND GPS'D THE AREA SO WE MAKE PUBLIC CORRECTION FROM MINOR CUTTINGS THAT WE SAW WITH THE HIKE WITH OSHA ON THE OLD FIRE BREAK SIDE LINE TO THE MUCH CUTTING- THANK YOU FOR EDUCATING US THERE. The fire behavior picked up earlier than what report states- "Normal people can't walk through..." yet a heavy set lady and an old college educated (psychology/religion/geology;p.h.d.)cowboy/miner/logger did many times yet it IS a maze and time consuming and so to label just the "elite"...really?...go to minute marker 3:43 of part 1 of John Dougherty's youtube and he states the boulders I always mention---WHY would you head down time consuming maze manzanaita versus scaling the boulders with the fire in sight? please- anyone? Horse doo doo when he says they worked all day and they weren't doing good where they were at- they are wildland firefighters not structural- and he said where they went down, they said the fire is totally blocked from their views- there is alot of other factors he says---than he said Brendan was behind the ridge but I do not think he was at the old grader like people have told me..WAYNE NEILL EDUCATED ME WHERE DONUT WAS AND I AS A CIVILIAN HIKER DON'T UNDERSTAND BEING LOW LIKE THAT YET FROM A FIREFIGHTER'S VIEW I LEARNED WHY THEY DO THAT- THANK YOU WAYNE..I saw activity near Sesame Street from the mountaintop and one day I hope to see his gps coordinates surface- than once I learn that gps coordinate than I can tell you how long it takes from point a to b BEFORE the fire destroyed it for I have hiked it for years- Part 2 video at 3:33 listen to him state 20 minutes off it and more up it- WRONG! We know that area and I have hiked with avid hikers and runners and even them they could not --even OSHA Brett Steurer did not do it in that time AFTER the brush was gone so that was wrong. THIS AREA SO FAR EVERYONE WHO HAS HIKED IT SAYS THERE IS NO WAY---WE HAVE TO TRACK AND FIGURE OUT WHAT MOVEMENT WAS MADE THE LAST FEW HOURS---THERE IS CLUES OUT THERE LIKE THIS WEEK...WE FOUND BURNT ROLL OF PINK RIBBON LIKE THE ONE ERIC MARSH TIED TO THE BUSHES SO THAT PUTS SOMEONE AT OR NEAR THAT SPOT THAT 6-30-13 AND THAT IS SOMETHING I CAN SHARE- YOU CANNOT WALK IT ONCE AND THINK YOU FOUND IT ALL BECAUSE WE HAVE HIKED IT ALOT AND STILL FINDING NEW STUFF OUT---

johnthompsom
johnthompsom

For the love of God, I don't understand why friends and family of these Hotshots are so opposed to finding out the truth. You'd think they'd be using it to their advantage to seek just compensation for loved ones left behind. But all they do is bitch and moan about the media. Better to stop the ignorance, read these stories and direct angst at the deserving.

jtw233
jtw233

I'm not trying to decredit anyone, sensationalizing about things that your not knowledgable about just misleads people. I'm just giving a different perspective.  I wasn't on the fire and have no accountability for the fire or to the state.  I have no reason to cover anything.  I've just done this a long time and know that tragedies happen because people aren't perfect and make mistakes.  I don't think there is a conspiracy here other than people are trying to find someone to blame.  The report is poorly written and avoids obvious issues.  The lessons are obvious to firefighters, everyone can see what happened and are talking about them, in private. I talked to John for about two hours one evening, I'm aware of his motivation, I just see it from a different view.  John is passionate about how he sees this.  I don't think that we disagree just have a different approach.

mike
mike

@dennis1007 

You have no idea how much I have wanted someone else to blame, as bad as that sounds.  Every time I think of the horror that Eric Marsh felt when he saw that wall of flame and knew his entire crew was going to die (as well as the terror the rest of the crew must have felt) I feel physically sick.  No one should have to experience that.  That thought haunts me every single time I think of this tragedy.

jtw233
jtw233

Nice Paul thats awesome you've done this.  When I read the report I saw that airattack had done the size up and wondered where you had come with this.  I appreciate someone taking accountability for misstatements.  John has others "experts" stirring the pot with assumptions.  Very Good

mike
mike

@jakepetersen12 

I reread the prior articles.  The Payne article has NO criticism of state officials, in fact some thought it was cover for them.  The 2nd big article did mention Arizona pushing for Granite to work and not controlling the fire soon enough.  But the primary focus was the situation in Prescott with staffing issues, poor support from elected officials and especially a culture of structure protection.  The latter complaint, of which much was made, seems to have been made up out of whole cloth.  Granite viewed the ranch as a safety zone, not needing protection.  Only now have the guns been turned on the state officials. 

2 of the articles have had to be corrected - not exactly high quality journalism.  I'm sure Mr. Shumate appreciates that apology buried in the comment section. 

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa

@calvinmelissa Was Blue Ridge on the North or west side of the mountains that day?---to answer you since it seems throughout this whole process we do not "hear" from the Blue Ridge yet we eye witnessed BR in proximity of Sesame Street/Shrine Rd area---which is North of the boulders near Helms on Maughan's agricultural land- and to check it out yourself since it is restricted to walk unless with an official- you can see it online if you go to Yavapai County Assessor and search names (Baluco/Whitehead/Maughan to get you to Sesame Street area and Helms to get you near where they perished and Shrine to see Shrine area- once there you can layer your maps to points of interests- topo or imagery or layer it with fire district or whatever it is you are looking to accomplish yet it is a great way to learn the BEFORE terrain as well-

jedtimesaz
jedtimesaz

@calvinmelissa Chief Willis was the structural protection supervisor for Div 2 that was deployed near Peeples Valley. The Div 1 supervisor was near Yarnell. The report does not make any reference to communications between Chief Willis and the Granite Mountain Hotshots and Willis states in writing he had no communications on June 30. Blue Ridge was on the east side of the Weaver Mountains, constructing an east-west fire break just north of Yarnell.

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa we know of one solid one- she was in the Red Cross evacuation and she eye-witnessed things we did not- I hope OSHA /investigators contacts Red Cross and reaches Barbara Buchanan to get in touch with that woman- things she stated before events happened have since happened---PLEASE, her alone could shed some light on things yet she stated she would not after what she saw and how in her own life have been treated by the government- yet how the heck did she state she saw this and that and some things had not yet happened when talking & since- it has...plus there are many locals who have not yet shared their story. I remember speaking to retired fire chief Pete- Joy went to the same church as him a few years back and she knew in God's time his story would surface so we just have to keep the faith that the truth will prevail in His time-

It is just so hard some days and nights to think nineteen men are really dead and had the same very choices we did that same afternoon- go the way they did which is near the way Joy wanted to go or go the way I insisted which was curve to the Congress side a bit than head back into Glen Ilah. That one decision saved 2 lives and I wish I had known they were in the area so Joy could share the terrain below the saddle to Eric Marsh as we spoke to him that morning and told him the way to the fire line. To this day Joy always wonders on the very few spoken words exchanged between her and Eric and how spent the men looked that morning except Eric, Jesse and Grant looked conditioned and ready for that terrain. We both have a hard time knowing nineteen men died and the report was so vague as to how they came to their guesstimated conclusions when there are phone records and people to still talk to- there are answers- please talk!

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa Sonny has his down days but so does me Joy- we are both here recapping the day---sure glad it is almost over is all I have to state- the way I told Sonny about 6-30-13 and what took place that day; I will freely share my time and photos/footage on what we eye-witnessed yet I am not going to publicly ask people what they already know is the RIGHT thing to do anymore- I know nineteen died and I could of had I stubbornly stayed and went my way versus the way Sonny took me. I hope anyone who personally knew these men know we will share that day in hopes it helps yet I know it resurfacing in the media has to hurt because I hurt and I do not even know them like you all did yet I have had a living father to one come in my dreams named Tom in September and one of the Fallen spoke to me requesting exactly what one of the Fallen widow's asked of me in an email not too long ago to do- I know the phone record topic is a sensitive area and that area was offered to be researched out and we accepted the idea for that person to do that- it is not to be of harm to anyone at all but once you hike the area with me not some official you will get why it cannot settle right and once you begin to read the 9-28-13 report- you someone who never hiked or even eye-witnessed from the fire line have questions but imagine me who has hiked it for almost a decade and as well I was at the fire line so my questions are different than someone like you who has to read what the media dishes out. Josh Eells, we received the MENS JOURNAL magazine and we never really got to see the faces but at the Prescott Fire Dept. one day and Joanna Dodder's article and Outside Magazine's article. Your article was so much better in the magazine than the online reading- excellent. Thank you for sharing that time with us. Thank you for the remembrance of the 19 as you shared it to the world.  It was eery as I did see the same face to the dream I had and it was Billy W. who was speaking to me and Josh if you go to page 2 of my private link on #128 you will read that dream in detail- I go to Wildfire today site when I get an email update or we go to Morgan Loew's page to see if LiberalVoice ever wrote again or we go to John's page here when we get updates so we are not folks even reading who these men were so it was odd to dream about him. My husband states it could of been my subconscious mind. I just know some days are hard for me because these women did for the Yarnell community recently yet we all in the community want to be there for you- thank you Calvinmelissa for your support to Mr. Gilligan- this has been a time of deep pain and all Sonny wants is for the families to get the proper answers-

wortham
wortham

Im saying, it's not everybody else's job to make you feel better. The public has a right to know about all these fuck-ups. Have some respect for these slain firefighters and seek the truth!

dogbiter
dogbiter

The horror that these boys felt is the very reason you should be supporing John's findings, rather than blathering about how they don''t mean anything. Sure people always make mistakes, as you and jtw233 say, but they shouldn't have made as many as they made in this instance. Maybe you're right that these mistakes didn't kill these guys, that Eric Marsh's decision did, but still... isn;'t the point to all of this to make sure this kind of tragedy doesn't happen again? Point being, if the fire had been handled properly, there would have been no need for the overworked Granite Mountain Hotshots to be sent in. Therefore, Marsh wouldn't have makde the error he made. 

johnnywebb13
johnnywebb13

Like you say, you will get pummeled, Mike, but come on... If it weren't for New Times and Dougherty nothing AT ALL would be known about what caused this tragedy. And, really, you wouldn't know good journalism if it bit you in the nuts. Either that or you're trying to buzz kill to cover somebody's ass. The errors you harp about were minor, and wouldn't have occurred of public officials had told the fucking truth instead of repeatedly refusing comment. It's a disgrace to these dead young men that people like you refuse to wake up and smell the fire retardant. You and others are ensuring this kind of tragedy will keep happening. Hope you can live with that.

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

@jedtimesaz

Around 6 a.m., Darrell Willis, chief of the Prescott Fire Department's Wildland Fire Division, was loading his truck with containers of eggs, sausage, potatoes and fruit for the crews when his phone rang. It was Eric Marsh, superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who were based out of Willis' department.

"Hey, chief," Marsh said. "We're coming down to the fire."                           Maine Sunday Telegram July 7

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa @sonnygillyxs Mrs Collura has a private link for her parents and husband that she has sent to minimal people in hopes the photos/videos help the investigations and she will email it to Elizabeth or have Elizabeth send your email so you are sent an invite to view the pages. When looking at Yarnell Fire Dept. vehicles this week and seeing Prescott- I can state the fire truck matches the Prescott ones not Yarnell. Another odd thing I see amongst the desert as we are looking for suicide hiker Mark Danielson- there is Interagency Fire Center Wildland vehicles out between the dairy and Stanton near the entrance to the 168 acres Dennis Neal is trying to obtain in the next month---I emailed asking if they plan to do a prescribed burn to let the public know because a lot of the Summer people who camp down in this area were burnt out up in the cooler climate up there on that day 6-30-13- some the very people we saved their lives that day informing them of the fire that was not in their visual are now wondering why these vehicles are parked down here off Stanton Road. We wonder too because we are out between Childers Well and Antelope Creek in search of Mark Danielson and we sleep in sleeping bags out there so we need to know plus our hiking headquarters and vehicles are parked on the old miner's patented claim area- I hope we can get answers to WHY they are over here. We sure don't need a prescribed burn where they are parked- they parked near the valley of hundreds of saguaros and that to me is illegal to burn an area with such a beautiful canyon dense with the tallest saguaros.  

calvinmelissa
calvinmelissa

@sonnygillyxs  Mrs. Coloura, Do you have a higher resolution copy of your pictures that show Blue Ridge, bulldozer and mystery fire dept truck? Elizabeth has my email if you have them and would share. Thanks

sonnygillyxs
sonnygillyxs

@calvinmelissa @sonnygillyxs are you speaking of the one by the bulldozer and BR vehicle- best I can do is after we are done caving and looking in mine shafts I can go enlarge the photo and see but from us up on top of the mountain- could not say- yet right now our main focus since Oct. 9th is to look in every adit/cave/mine shaft for the suicide hiker who lost his home- but as soon as I do I have you in my inbox on email to reply at a later date but as for today- if you see the photo or you want me to email you a link- and you can enlarge it now versus waiting later- send an email addy to us and if you do not want to post it you can send it by going to Joy's hiking page and send it that way on the "send message" area- ( z a z z l e . c o m / c o n g r e s s _ a r i z o n a ; minus the spaces between letters)

mike
mike

@dogbiter 

I think you are rewriting the article a bit with your comments, and I agree with you.  It was wrong to blister the front line state guys, when the policymakers are the problem.  That is primarily the elected officials.  Also the fact that so much government money is tied up in transfer payments, that we can no longer properly fund public safety which is a bedrock function of government.  Just one example is Prescott not having a death benefit for all those guys (not talking full health insurance etc).  Those guys died working for the city of Prescott, and the city basically pays nothing on 13 of them.  I know how generous everyone has been, but that is beside the point. 

dogbiter
dogbiter

"I suspect the initial attack was really not out of the realm of normal practice." Mike, that's the large problem here, as this latest story points out. Shumate is merely a pawn in a chess game controlled by penny-pinching bureaucrats who pay overworkdd hotshots next to nothing to risk their lives rather than expending necessary resources to attack a fire properly from the get-go. I'm sure budget considerations are on every  state and local fire official's mind when he makes decisions. These 19 guys were just the (extremely low) cost of doing business. Sad it certainly is!

mike
mike

@dogbiter 

I do not know the author so for me to impugn his motives was not fair.  I have no problem with him raising these issues.  How he did it is where I have a problem.  He exaggerated the importance of these other factors and made it all seem sinister.  It is not fair to blame someone for these 19 deaths, even if they made mistakes, if they were not really the cause.

I suspect the initial attack was really not out of the realm of normal practice.  Maybe that is a problem that policymakers should address, and an article could have been written about that.  Instead the article was very personal in its condemnation of Mr. Shumate and the "B-team" that came after.  Not very fair if you ask me. 

Likewise the jump to assume Granite's error was an over-commitment to structure protection because they belonged to a municipal fire department seems to have been an error.  They viewed the ranch as a "bomb proof" safety zone, not a vulnerable structure. 

Yes I do think we all want the same thing.  If nothing else, these articles have given us an opportunity to discuss this horrible event.

dogbiter
dogbiter

Also, there's no sensationalizing going on here. Facts are facts, guys! It's too bad that you don't like them.

bob_lablaw96
bob_lablaw96

@mike @johnnywebb13 It seems like the whole thing was management heavy, with little communication.  The New Times, as is their pattern, finds a story that blames some government effort for the whole thing.  

There is no real reason for those guys to have died, and we know that.  But, why does it seem like a good idea to write a 6 page "story" that explains little, yet find a way to blame the hot shots?

JohnnyWebb...you have an axe to grind here and I am not sure what it is. John Dougherty did not write a non-fiction novel here, he produced a story that paid his rent!


jtw233
jtw233

22 years in wild fire and 14 on Hotshot crews, I believe that Mike is absolutely right.  There is allot of sensationalism going on here.  The tragedy is a tragedy.  The lessons are right there and obvious for wildland firefighters, the rabit trails are just grandstanding.

mike
mike

@johnnywebb13 

I was referring to Marsh and Steed, not the fire command.  Are you saying they were not well-regarded and experienced? That is what has everyone shaking their heads. 

Even if the hotshots are exploited as you say, that was not the cause of this tragedy.  Whatever the reason, Granite Mountain's overhead made a fateful decision and 19 men died.  Maybe the reason was good, we just do not know it.

One thing does bother me.  The fire command that Sunday has received little scrutiny.  They were in charge at the time of the catastrophe, and almost by definition bear some responsibility.  The comment by the IC that day that there was no "smoking gun" in the report was tasteless at best.

johnnywebb13
johnnywebb13

You're either stupid or a shill. You refuse to face facts. It's sad that you would continue to try to slant the truth in favor of the forces who exploit young hotshots. And you're delusional that "well-regarded" fire management handled this deadly situation well.

mike
mike

@johnnywebb13 

When you can't make a coherent argument, cuss a little and find someone else to blame.  Yeah, that's persuasive.  This story is really simple.  Granite Mountain had well-regarded, experienced overhead on scene that Sunday.  They could see the fire and they knew the weather.  And then they made a decision that no one has been able to give a logical reason for, one that ended in catastrophe.  Has anything this author written shed light on that?  No.  Like us, he does not know the answer.  But it is hard to turn that into a bunch of articles.  So gather a few peripheral facts, sprinkle in a few quotes from "experts" who might or might not have an agenda, and weave an alternative story.  Yes, there were issues to be looked at.  But to say these caused the 19 deaths is just wrong if you cannot tie them to that fateful decision. 

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...