Yarnell Hill Fire deaths were avoidable if crew had followed wildfire safety rules, research paper concludes

Share

Two former Interagency Hotshot Crew supervisors have published a research paper on the Yarnell Hill Fire disaster that concludes human errors were the primary factors that lead to the death of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013.

“Did they all perish in a predictable, and therefore, avoidable death-by-fire incident? Indeed, per the conclusion of these authors, they did,” Fred Schoeffler and Lance Honda state in the paper.

Their conclusion directly contradicts the findings of the Serious Accident Investigation Team that was contracted by the state of Arizona to review the incident. The SAIT concluded that there was “no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol.”

Mr. Schoeffler was superintendent of the Payson Interagency Hotshot Crew for 27 years. He is suing the U.S. Forest Service for air-to-ground voice recordings and transcripts from the afternoon of June 30 in the moments leading up to the deaths of 19 out of 20 members of the crew.

Mr. Honda retired as a wildland firefighter in 2009 with 39 years experience including the last 12 years as superintendent of the Prineville (Ore.) Interagency Hotshot Crew.

The paper, entitled “Epic Human Failure on June 30, 2013“, was published by Springer International Publishing AG. The authors state that the crew’s leadership failed to follow well-known wildfire safety rules and that directly contributed to disaster.

“Almost every WFF (wildland firefighter) agrees that the (Yarnell Hill Fire) tragedy would have been impossible for 19 men to have died accordingly had they held to these tried-and-true WFF Rules,” the authors state.

The authors also state that Granite Mountain’s history of poor decisions was well known to other Interagency Hotshot Crews and that the disaster, horrific as it was, was not a surprising outcome.

“This was the final, fatal link, in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes, we saw this coming for years,” the paper quotes an unnamed Hotshot crew superintendent as saying during an October 2013 visit by wildland firefighters to the box canyon where the men died. Mr. Schoeffler was at the gathering.

“About 8 other Hot Shot Superintendents spoke and stated they had all attempted unsuccessfully over the years through peer pressure to get the (Granite Mountain Hotshots) to alter their unsafe actions,” the paper states.

InvestigativeMEDIA, MiningWatch ask U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to intervene with Peru over detentions

Share

RIMROCK, AZ–InvestigativeMEDIA and MiningWatch, Canada, today sent a joint letter to the U.S. and Canadian ambassadors to Peru asking them to seek information from Peruvian officials about last April’s detention of John Dougherty and Jen Moore in Cusco, Peru.

Mr. Dougherty is the owner and editor of InvestigativeMEDIA and Ms. Moore is the Latin American Coordinator for Ottawa-based MiningWatch, Canada.

Peruvian National Police and immigration authorities detained Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore on the street after the screening of InvestigativeMEDIA’s documentary “Flin Flon Flim Flam” at Cusco’s Municipal Cultural Center on Friday, April 21. The film had been dubbed into Spanish and Quechua.

The film documents Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ worldwide operations and highlights its deployment of the Peruvian National Police to beat and teargas protesters near its Constancia open-pit copper mine near Uchucarco, Peru in November 2014.

Hudbay confirmed in May that it continues to have a contract with the Peruvian National Police to provide security services.

Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore were taken to police headquarters and held for more than four hours and pressured to sign statements. Mr. Dougherty refused to sign any documents without an English-speaking attorney present. There was no warrant issued for their arrest.

The next day, the Peruvian Interior Ministry issued an inflammatory press release (English translation) accusing Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore of inciting civil disturbance that is punishable by expulsion from Peru for up to 15 years. The press release noted that Hudbay has all permits to operate in Peru.

Prior to their arrival in Peru, anonymous articles published in a Cuscso newspaper alleged that Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore were preparing “to ambush” Hudbay. Subsequent articles accused the two of inciting violence after several Hudbay copper concentrate transport trucks caught on fire.

“We believe the stigmatization in the press and by a public authority, along with the police harassment, illegal and arbitrary detention and our ongoing legal prosecution is a result of the privatization of the public security apparatus in Peru and about state authorities and Hudbay Minerals trying to exert control over what information communities living around the company’s Constancia mine have access to,” the joint letter to the ambassadors states.

The letter requests the ambassadors to ask the following questions to Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights:

  • Why were Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore subjected to this sort of surveillance, harassment and criminalization?
  • Why were police tracking their movements from April 18 to 20?
  • Why did the police fail to duly notify Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore and allow them the appropriate time to respond to any concerns about their migratory status, if that was indeed the concern, and instead illegally and arbitrarily detain them for four hours on April 21?
  • On what basis did the Interior Ministry publicly accuse Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore, on April 22, of having incited local campesino populations to violence and demonize them as a threat to public order, internal order and even national security.

Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore left Peru prior to a hearing that was scheduled for Monday, April 24. Both are currently represented by separate legal counsel. Police released an April 22 initial report that documented the screening of the film in several communities near Hudbay’s  Constancia open-pit copper mine. No other evidence has been released as of June 20.

Hudbay Minerals is currently seeking a federal Clean Water Act permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for its proposed $1.9 billion Rosemont open-pit copper mine planned for the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest southeast of Tucson, Ariz.

Canada’s National Observer reports on Peru detention of Dougherty and Moore

Share

Canada’s National Observer published an excellent story Friday, May 12, about InvestigativeMEDIA’s owner John Dougherty’s recent detention in Peru along with Mining Watch, Canada’s Jen Moore. Here’s the link: http://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/05/12/news/detained-and-accused-peru-canadian-activist-suspects-foul-play

CFAX radio in Victoria, Canada interviews Dougherty, Moore on Peru detention

Share

Mark Brennae of CFAX radio in Victoria, Canada interviewed InvestigativeMEDIA’s John Dougherty and Jen Moore, Latin America program coordinator for Ottawa-based MiningWatch, Canada on Wednesday, May 10 about their April 21 detention by the Peruvian National Police and Peruvian immigration authorities after a Cusco, Peru screening of Dougherty’s documentary “Flin Flon Flim Flam” on the worldwide operations of Hudbay Minerals.

The 30-minute interview can be heard here:

http://www.iheartradio.ca/cfax-1070/shows/the-drive-with-mark-brennae-1.1821472

Peruvian police detain filmmaker after showing documentary critical of Hudbay Minerals

Share

(Phoenix, Ariz) The Peruvian National Police and immigration authorities detained InvestigativeMedia owner and filmmaker John Dougherty on April 21 after he finished screening his documentary film “Flin Flon Flim Flam” in Cusco, Peru.

 

The documentary reports on Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ worldwide mining operations.

More than a dozen plain-clothes officers surrounded Mr. Dougherty and Jen Moore, Latin American program coordinator for MiningWatch, Canada, on the street outside the Cusco Cultural Center and forced them into a vehicle without a warrant. They were taken to the immigration office in Cusco. In a statement released early Monday, Mining Watch, Canada detailed Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore’s unlawful apprehension.

Police held Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore for four hours before being released early Saturday morning. Mr. Dougherty refused to sign documents or declarations police were pressuring him to sign without the presence of English-speaking legal counsel.

Peru National Police officer Edgar Abarca Lezama holding documents during detention proceedings Cucso, Peru against John Dougherty and Jen Moore.

Peru National Police officer Edgar Abarca Lezama holding documents during detention proceedings in Cucso, Peru against John Dougherty and Jen Moore.

An immigration hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday, April 24 at immigration offices in Cusco.

Upon the advice of legal counsel, Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore left Peru on Saturday. Peruvian attorneys will represent Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore at the immigration proceeding. Mr. Dougherty intends to contest the immigration case and is pursuing all other legal remedies. The police allege Mr. Dougherty was prohibited from screening the film under a tourist visa. Filmmakers attending film festivals routinely enter Peru under tourist visas.

“I strongly believe that Hudbay directed the Peruvian National Police and immigration authorities to detain us because Hudbay does not want the Peruvian people to know the truth about its long history of environmental contamination, allegations of serious human rights abuses and conflicts with local communities near its Constancia mine in Peru,” Mr. Dougherty says.

“Hudbay has had a contract to pay the Peruvian National Police for security services in the past and I believe that such an agreement is still in place,” Mr. Dougherty says. “The company is now taking the dangerous step of using the state to criminalize a journalist engaged in the distribution of truthful information that it wants to hide.”

This relationship between Hudbay and the Peruvian National Police has previously been reported in the media and elsewhere.

At no time since the film’s release in October 2015 has Hudbay stated there was an error of fact. “Hudbay was given every opportunity to comment on the film during the production and refused,” he says.

Hudbay also appears to have direct influence over the Peruvian Interior Ministry, which issued a statement Saturday (English translation) that strongly suggested criminal charges were being prepared against Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore for allegedly inciting rural communities to take violent actions against Hudbay.

“In fact, the documentary shows Hudbay’s contract employees, the Peruvian National Police, taking violent action in Nov. 2014 against Peruvian citizens peacefully marching and protesting Hudbay’s alleged failure to abide by agreements,” Mr. Dougherty says.

At no time during question and answer sessions after the screenings of the film in Peru did Mr. Dougherty suggest or encourage any violent action against Hudbay or any other mining company. Ms. Moore made no public statements during any of the events. Her role was to act as a translator for Mr. Dougherty.

“The fact that Ms. Moore was detained for doing nothing more than translating shows how far Hudbay and its police contractors are willing to go in its shameful attempt to silence free speech and intimidate the press,” Mr. Dougherty says.

The film screenings in Chamaca, Velille and Cusco were free and open to the public. DVD copies of the film were distributed free and Mr. Dougherty encouraged their reproduction and distribution. Hudbay and other mining supporters were welcome to attend the events and ask questions about the film, which they did.

Hudbay’s effort to stop the distribution of the film will not succeed. The film will be shown at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 25 at CCPUCP, Avenue Camino Real, 1075 San Isidro, Lima.

Mr. Dougherty will attend the screening and answer questions via Skype.

The documentary, dubbed in Spanish and Quechua, reports on Hudbay’s history of contaminating Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada with heavy metals and poisoning children; legal proceedings in a Toronto civil court where the company stands accused of murder, a shooting that paralyzed a man and gang rapes in Guatemala; conflicts with Peruvian communities where police used teargas and beat peaceful demonstrators and Hudbay’s plans to build the Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.

Mr. Dougherty’s tour in Peru was assisted by Cooperacción and Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras – Cusco. These groups arranged for screenings in different communities where they have developed relationships with community leaders. The organizations had no role in the financing, production, and editing of the film. Mr. Dougherty paid for all his expenses in Peru and conducted no commercial business.

Quechua version:

Spanish version: