Forestry official admits making comments to InvestigativeMEDIA

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Arizona Deputy State Forester Jerry Payne has confirmed that he made the comments attributed to him by InvestigativeMEDIA in a July 30 article in which Payne was quoted as saying the leader of the Granite Mountain Hotshot squads made mistakes in the moments leading up to his death and the deaths of 18 members of his crew.

Carrie Dennett, a forestry division spokeswoman, is quoted by Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services as saying Payne “did admit making the comments.”

In the story posted Wednesday, Fischer reports, “The dispute he (Payne) has with the (InvestigativeMEDIA) report, Dennett said, is that it did not make clear that this was just his personal opinion and not part of any official finding or statement.”

Capitol Media Services also reported that Gov. Jan Brewer said Wednesday that Payne expressed his own opinion about the deaths during the Yarnell Hill Fire. But she said any such conclusions were premature, as the investigation is ongoing. [Read more…]