Arizona Hotshot Deaths Prompt Few Changes

By BOB CHRISTIE | July 1, 2014

  • July 1, 2014 at 8:26 pm
    Sharon Burke says:
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    This fire was very similar to the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado, which killed 14 firefighters by entrapment in the flames.

    In the Yarnell Hill Fire, ALL were notified of the weather. The 19 verified they received the weather info. However, the fire itself WAS very unusual for Arizona. Winds were predicted that didn’t show up. At other times unpredicted winds came that were mistaken for outflow boundary winds that were predicted only to have the outflow boundary come later. This is what probably trapped the 19. It was not known that the wind would shift to Yarnell until VERY late in the fire on the 30th. The wind shift that engaged Yarnell WAS THE windshift that entrapped the 19.

    Something little mentioned because it seems not very “PC” is the fact that the 19 broke elementary safety protocol when they decided to descend into a fuel laden box canyon in volatile weather with unpredictable winds. Nobody told them to do that. Nobody encouraged them to leave the black or the two track road where they could monitor the fire in safety. They wanted to get to the Boulder Ranch, but there were safer routes to get there, but alas, they were longer routes. The 19 took a risk, on their own. If they had not done so, they would be alive today. That is not a popular fact, but still a fact that will come out in the lawsuit.

    Additionally, although the State and Arizona Forestry appeared to make some faulty calls, none of those calls singly or in combination even remotely caused the deaths of the 19. The accusations and the singling out of individuals as causing the deaths is a horrible tragedy in itself for their families.

    It’s time for brutal honesty. We mourn the deaths but not at the expense of ruining the lives of others or at the cost of millions of dollars to assuage a revenge lust brought by the families.

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