20 Years Later, Legacy of a Deadly Colorado Wildfire Endures


John N. Maclean

for National Geographic

Published July 4, 2014

Twenty years ago, at 4 p.m. on July 6, a wave of flame swept along a ridge on Colorado’s Storm King Mountain, killed 14 firefighters, and became a benchmark for wildland firefighting with repercussions that continue to this day.

On Sunday, firefighters from across the nation will gather at the site of what became known as the 1994 South Canyon Fire, about seven miles west of the resort town of Glenwood Springs in central Colorado, to mark the anniversary and take stock of its legacy.


Yarnell Hill Chapter VIII


Thanks to everyone for continuing the work of public-assisted investigative journalism. Together, we are breaking new ground in investigative reporting. In order to facilitate posting comments, please include no more than one link in each comment. Otherwise, the comment gets kicked into spam. Begin Chapter VIII here:

Chapter I, Chapter II, Chapter II supplement, Chapter III, Chapter IV, Chapter V, Chapter VI and  Chapter VII.

Yarnell residents file lawsuit against Arizona State Forestry Division


More that 180 Yarnell residents and business owners today filed a lawsuit against the Arizona State Forestry Division alleging that the state acted with “extreme negligence” in responding to and controlling the Yarnell Hill Fire that destroyed much of the town and killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots last June 30.

The lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court is the first of several expected to be filed this week as the deadline for filing lawsuits within one year of the tragic wildfire approaches.

The lawsuit provides a detailed timeline alleging the state was negligent by failing to quickly respond to the lightning-caused fire on the evening of June 28 and subsequently deploying inadequate resources to manage the wildfire after it escaped the initial attack on the afternoon of June 29.

“The Arizona State Forestry Division committed extreme negligence by entrusting management of the Yarnell Hill Fire to a low-level, exhausted, negligent, situationally unaware, inadequately experienced and overwhelmed Type 4 Incident Commander,” alleges the lawsuit filed by the Scottsdale law firm Knapp & Roberts P.C.

“What’s bothered me from the beginning is why this (fire) was not put out the first day,” says attorney Craig Knapp. “I just don’t get it.”

Knapp says Yarnell firefighters and volunteers were told to “stand down” by state forestry officials on the evening of June 28 when the fire was smoldering near the peak of the Weaver Mountains west of Yarnell.

They “should have attacked it when it was small,” Knapp says. “It takes very little resources and you can save millions of dollars and lives. They just didn’t do that.”

Knapp said his firm intends to file additional lawsuits this week including a class action suit on behalf of Yarnell residents who are not identified as plaintiffs in today’s claim and wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of families of three members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.


InvestigativeMEDIA posts supporting documentation for ADOSH Yarnell Hill investigation


InvestigativeMEDIA today posted the supporting documentation for the Arizona Department of Safety and Health investigative report into the Yarnell Hill Fire disaster that killed 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots last June 30.

The investigative report, which includes audio interviews of key personnel who fought the fire including Granite Mountain’s only surviving member, is located here. [Read more...]