Wildfire expert alleges state coverup on eve of hotshot families’ Yarnell field trip

Share
burned bowel

The burned over box canyon where 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed on June 30, 2013. Photo by Arizona Forestry Division

A long anticipated field presentation scheduled Tuesday by the state Forestry Division for the family members of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots that will take survivors to the site where their loved ones died is being sharply criticized for failing to accurately portray what happened.

The Yarnell site visit uses a military “staff ride” format where participants are taken to different locations on the fire ground and wildfire experts provide presentations on the best available information about the events that led up to the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013 at the Yarnell Hill Fire. A “facilitator guide” has also been prepared that provides detailed information about key events in the days before and on the day of the fire.

The tour and presentation is touted by the state as a way to provide the families facts about the fire and offer an opportunity for a healing experience.

“This product is a true legacy of your loved one that will educate firefighters across the nation and put them in the shoes and decision making process’ of the Granite Mountain Hotshots,” Don Boursier safety and logistic officer for the Arizona Forestry Division, states in a Feb. 25 email to family members.

But one of the nation’s leading wildfire fatality experts who has participated in such events in the past is sharply criticizing the information that will be presented to family members as being an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of the events.

“I think the staff ride is an insult to all of their loved ones because it hasn’t yet told the truth,” says Ted Putnam, a retired wildfire fatality investigator and Chino Valley resident who has been conducting an unofficial investigation of the Yarnell Hill Fire. “The biggest tribute we should do for these firefighters is to tell the truth.”

Putnam was provided a copy of the facilitator guide that will be used during the staff ride by InvestigativeMEDIA, which obtained it from the Forestry Division through a request under the Arizona Public Records Law.

Putnam says he has direct information from multiple firefighter sources who were at the fire in conjunction with evidence contained in investigation reports that leave no doubt in his mind that Arizona Forestry Division fire supervisors ordered Granite Mountain to come off the mountain and go to Yarnell.

“I’ve been in this business longer and know more about this than anybody out there and this all screams at me they were ordered off the top (of the mountain),” Putnam says.

Wildfire fatality expert Ted Putnam.

Wildfire fatality expert Ted Putnam.

Putnam, a former smoke jumper, served as an investigator on high-profile fatal wildfires including the 1990 Dude Fire in Arizona and the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado. Putnam is considered one of the leading experts in wildland fire entrapments and has been cited by many as “the pioneer in advancing scientific knowledge in this area.”

Putnam gained notoriety when he refused to sign the official accident investigation report for the South Canyon Fire where 14 hotshots and smoke jumpers were killed because he believed the report was untrue. Putnam has a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Montana.

Putnam’s claim directly contradicts the official version of events included in the forestry division’s Serious Accident Investigation Report that was released in September 2013, and there is no mention of such an order in the upcoming staff ride documentation.

The SAIR concluded that no one knows why the crew descended from a safe, burned-over area called ‘the black’ on the top of the Weaver Mountains and dropped into a box canyon jammed with drought-stricken chaparral at the hottest time of the day with the wildfire approaching and a massive thunderstorm bearing down.

“No one realized that the crew left the black and headed southeast, sometime after 1604 (4:04 p.m.),” the SAIR report states.

Putnam says the report’s conclusion defies logic. Putnam does not believe that Granite Mountain Hotshot superintendent Eric Marsh would have ordered his crew to leave its safe zone unless he was pressured by superiors to get the crew to Yarnell. At the time the crew moved off the mountain, the fire was sweeping into Yarnell forcing evacuations of many residents.

“Marsh’s action make no sense at all unless he was ordered off the top,” Putnam says.

Putnam says he cannot reveal his sources because they provided the information under the promise of confidentiality. But, Putnam says, he would provide complete details in a trial or other formal setting where he was asked to testify under oath.

State Forestry Director Jeff Whitney requested a meeting early Monday with InvestigativeMEDIA to respond to Putnam’s statements. But Whitney walked out of the interview without saying a word when this reporter began to set up a video camera to record the interview.

A few minutes later, Joy Hernbrode, deputy director of administrative services for the forestry division, agreed to appear on camera.

“I haven’t seen any evidence that supports Mr. Putnam’s claims, so I don’t know what he’s built his belief on,” Hernbrode says. “But we have looked at all the evidence in the state report, the videos, and it is our opinion that there isn’t any evidence that anybody was ordered off that mountain. However, if somebody has evidence of that, we definitely would like to see it.”

Audio evidence has surfaced in records released by the state Forestry Division that show Marsh was communicating about the crew’s movements during a 30-minute period the SAIR states there were no verifiable communications from the crew.

A video clip shot by Blue Ridge Hotshot Ronald Gamble at 4:27 p.m. picks up an audio exchange between an unknown firefighter and Marsh.

While it is difficult to hear clearly the unknown firefighter, it sounds like he is saying, “Copy…coming down and appreciate it if you could go a little faster, but you’re the supervisor.”

Marsh was assigned as a Division supervisor on the morning of June 30, and Steed assumed command of the Granite Mountain crew.

A few seconds later, Marsh replies, “Ah, they’re coming from the heel of the fire.”

Marsh’s widow, Amanda Marsh, confirmed it was her late husband’s voice.

Hernbrode says the video does not prove anybody ordered the crew to leave the mountain.

“I don’t know who he’s (Marsh) talking to,” she says. “More experienced fire folks than I have looked at that and could not conclude that was evidence that anybody ordered them off.”

Additional evidence of communications between Marsh and other unknown firefighters during the reported black out period also surfaced in background audio of an aerial firefighting effectiveness study that was being conducted during the Yarnell Hill Fire. These audio clips were included in the supplemental materials released with the SAIR but never included in the formal report.

The staff ride is required under a June 2015 settlement agreement reached with 12 of the families who had filed a $220 million federal lawsuit against the forestry division. The agreement required the state to pay the 12 families a total of $600,000 and to admit to no wrongdoing.

Among the records released by the forestry division is the Yarnell Hill Staff Ride Facilitator Guide that was prepared for a trial staff ride on Feb. 17-18 and the facilitator guide for Tuesday’s site visit with Granite Mountain families.

OMNA International, a private contractor that specializes in preparing staff rides for wildfire fatality sites as well as military battlegrounds including Gettysburg, prepared the guides under a contract with the U.S. Forest Service, according to Bill Boyd, forestry division public affairs and legislative officer.

The guides provide no new information concerning the events that led up to Granite Mountain’s entrapment that was not presented in the SAIR.

The SAIR has been roundly criticized for its conclusion that nobody did anything wrong despite the fact 19 “elite” firefighters died in a box canyon full of explosive desert scrub at the hottest time of the day with rapidly changing weather conditions.

Putnam says the SAIR – without directly saying so – is essentially blaming the Granite Mountain Hotshot leaders, superintendent Eric Marsh, and Captain Jesse Steed, for making unilateral decisions that led the crew to their deaths.

“They are saying virtually all the mistakes were made by Eric and Jesse, and the crew pretty much did this to themselves,” Putnam says.

There’s no question, Putnam says, that Marsh and Steed made terrible decisions to move the crew into the box canyon and that both men should have refused to follow any orders or directives requesting they move the crew.

But, Putnam says, those decisions were not made in a vacuum and that incident commanders are equally responsible.

“The incident management team screwed up just as bad as Eric (Marsh), and Steed did,” he says.

The facilitator guides also do not include any reference to findings by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health in its investigation of the fire.

ADOSH issued two workplace safety citations against the forestry division for its mishandling of the fire that began on the evening of June 28, 2013. The citations were later dismissed in conjunction with the settlement agreement with the families.

The guide that will be presented to the families does not discuss that a number of basic wildland firefighting rules were violated by the Granite Mountain crew in the moments leading up to its entrapment, including moving through desert shrubs without a lookout and not knowing the location of the fire.

Kelly Zombro, a retired former deputy chief for CAL FIRE, who attended the Feb. 17-18 trial staff ride later wrote the forestry division urging it to include a section where attendees review the basic wildland firefighter rules of engagement.

These include the “Ten Standard Orders and 18 Watchout Situations” and four key principles denoted by the acronym LCES that stands for “Lookouts, Communications, Escape Routes and Safety Zones”.

“Perhaps there would be value in adding a page in the book (facilitator guide) that allows participants to review the 10 and 18 and LCES, a back to basics perspective which is what the crew was operating from,” Zombro stated in a Feb. 22 email to the forestry division. “Challenge the attendees to find weak points once the course is completed.”

While Zombro’s suggestion was ignored, the forestry division and OMNA International did incorporate some of the suggestions made by Mark Kaib, southwest deputy regional fire management coordinator for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, for the family presentation.

Kaib, in a detailed critique of the February staff ride, questioned the guide’s characterization that Granite Mountain was a very knowledgeable and accomplished crew in the type of terrain and vegetation that was present in Yarnell.

“That’s a difficult one to support,” he states.

Kaib also questioned whether Granite Mountain leadership allowed the threat to a community only 45 miles from Prescott to “blind their fire behavior situational awareness and risk-assessment process?”

“GMIHC did have good experience and knowledge,” Kaib stated, “but was their experience only sufficient enough to give them the self-confidence to take on greater, possibly unjustified risks?”

The guide that will be used by families includes several factual errors, leaves out a key event in the timeline, and misquotes a crucial conversation among other shortcomings including changing critical times of key events.

The guide incorrectly states that six inmates from the Yuma state prison were assigned to the Yarnell Hill fire on June 29. The inmates actually were from the Lewis state prison. The six inmates ran out of chainsaw fuel shortly before the fire jumped a two-track road on the afternoon of June 29 and began to expand rapidly. There’s no mention of this in the facilitator guide.

In the description of Granite Mountain’s workload in the days leading up to the fire, the guide states the crew worked on a wildfire on June 28 but ignores the fact the crew was assigned to a fire near Prescott on June 29 and reportedly worked 16 hours, according to billing records.

Nor is there any mention that Sunday, June 30 was the crew’s scheduled day off and that the crew had worked 28 of the previous 30 days.

Both the February guide and the updated guide change a crucial conversation captured in a video by one of the hotshots moments before the crew left the top of the mountain and decided to move towards Yarnell by descending into a box canyon packed with volatile chaparral.

In a section called “Tactical Decision Game,” the February guide asks participants to pretend they are Steed, who just received a radio call from Marsh, and discuss what the conversation means.

The February guide states that Marsh asks Steed: “what (sic) are you seeing and what is your comfort level?”

The latest version of the guide states that Marsh asks Steed: “Hey, what do you think about bumping down to where we can do some good?”

In fact, the dialogue between Marsh and Steed was much different and suggests that there was a disagreement between the two men about a decision, perhaps on whether to move to Yarnell.

“Ah, I just, I’m just saying I knew this was coming when I called you and asked how your comfort level was. I could just feel it, you know,” Marsh says.

A second video clip picks up the conversation a few seconds later. It’s unknown why there is a gap in the video. In the second clip, Steed tells Marsh, who is in an unknown location but apparently in a place where he could not see the fire, that “the fire had almost made it to the two-track road” on which they had hiked in that morning.

The facilitator guide does not address where Marsh might have been. Nor does it include subsequent information widely reported in 2015 that the crew’s sole survivor, Brendon McDonough, heard Marsh and Steed argue over the crew’s radio frequency whether to move the crew, with Marsh eventually ordering Steed, a former Marine, to move.

The two video clips were taken with Granite Mountain hotshot Chris MacKenzie’s Canon video camera. The camera survived the fire intact and was included in MacKenzie’s list of belongings during his autopsy on July 2, 2013, conducted by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner.

The camera, however, did not go directly from the medical examiner’s office to the Serious Accident Investigation Team but was instead sent to MacKenzie’s father, who later discovered it was still functioning. The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office was in charge of gathering evidence from the medical examiner’s office and providing it to wildfire investigators.

Among the experts who made presentations during the initial staff ride was former Prescott Wildlands Division Chief Darrell Willis, who oversaw the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

Willis said in a July 23, 2013, interview at the deployment site that “we’ll never know” why the crew moved off the mountain but that he believes they were doing it to protect structures in Yarnell.

“It’s just one of those things that happened,” Willis said. “You can call it an accident. I just say God had a different plan for that crew at this time.” (At 12:31)

The family guide also includes a 1930 essay “The Courage to Be” written by John A. Lejeune and a one-page open letter to the City of Prescott written in March 2013 by Marsh during a period when the Prescott City Council was considering eliminating the crew.

Lejeune’s essay glorifies death of brave Marines who followed the orders of a strong and just leader.

“If each man knows that all the officers and men in his division are animated with the same fiery zeal as he himself feels, unquenchable courage and unconquerable determination crush out fear, and death becomes preferable to defeat and dishonor,” Lejeune states.

Marsh sought in his letter to explain who the hotshots are and their work ethic.

“We are not nameless or faceless, we are not expendable, we are not satisfied with mediocrity, we are not willing to accept being average, we are not quitters…” he wrote. “We don’t just call ourselves hotshots. We are hotshots in everything we do.”

© Copyright 2016 John Dougherty, All rights Reserved. Written For: Investigative MEDIA

Comments

  1. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** A HOST OF ERRORS IN THE YARNELL HILL STAFF RIDE GUIDE

    From the article above…

    —————————————————————————–
    A long anticipated field presentation scheduled Tuesday by the state Forestry Division for the family members of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots that will take survivors to the site where their loved ones died is being sharply criticized for failing to accurately portray what happened.

    The Yarnell site visit uses a military “staff ride” format where participants are taken to different locations on the fire ground and wildfire experts provide presentations on the best available information about the events that led up to the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013 at the Yarnell Hill Fire. A “facilitator guide” has also been prepared that provides detailed information about key events in the days before and on the day of the fire.

    The tour and presentation is touted by the state as a way to provide the families facts about the fire and offer an opportunity for a healing experience.

    “This product is a true legacy of your loved one that will educate firefighters across the nation and put them in the shoes and decision making process’ of the Granite Mountain Hotshots,” Don Boursier safety and logistic officer for the Arizona Forestry Division, states in a Feb. 25 email to family members.

    But one of the nation’s leading wildfire fatality experts who has participated in such events in the past is sharply criticizing the information that will be presented to family members as being an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of the events.

    “I think the staff ride is an insult to all of their loved ones because it hasn’t yet told the truth,” says Ted Putnam, a retired wildfire fatality investigator and Chino Valley resident who has been conducting an unofficial investigation of the Yarnell Hill Fire. “The biggest tribute we should do for these firefighters is to tell the truth.”

    Putnam was provided a copy of the facilitator guide that will be used during the staff ride by InvestigativeMEDIA, which obtained it from the Forestry Division through a request under the Arizona Public Records Law.
    —————————————————————————–

    So all ‘theories’ aside… when Dr. Ted Putnam himself refers to this official ‘Yarnell Hill Staff Ride Guide’ itself ( which he has now seen and read ) and says…

    “…the information that will be presented to family members is an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of the events.”

    …he ain’t kiddin’.

    This ‘Staff Ride Guide’, all by itself, is ( currently ) FILLED with errors and misinformation… and to such a degree that it can’t all be simply attributed to just sheer incompetence on the part of the authors.

    I guess right here is about as good a place as any to document these ‘errors’ and the ‘misinformation’ in the product that is now well on its way to being the ‘official story of the Yarnell Hill Fire’ at the USFS ‘Wildland Lessons Learned’ center…

    …so away we go.

    I’m going to actually take it ‘page by page’… because there are just TOO MANY factual errors to cover with just one posting.

    I will post the ‘page errors’ as separate replies to this message because some of the page postings will require their own ‘links’ to show how WRONG some of the information in this ‘Staff Ride’ Gide truly is…

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      ** ERRORS on PDF page 3 of the official April/Beta Yarnell Hill Staff Ride ‘Guide’

      Even on the very THIRD page of the ‘Guide’, following the title page, and their own ‘foreword’… in their section called ‘Introduction’… the train wreck begins.

      There are FACTUAL ERRORS contained even from the very moment the authors of this document ever tried to start presenting ‘information’ about the Yarnell Hill Fire to the ‘reader’.

      From the official April/Beta Yarnell Hill Fire ‘Staff Ride Guide’…
      ———————————————————————————
      The Yarnell Hill Staff Ride is much more than remembrance of the loss of the GMIHC. In addition to the transitioning incident command structure faced with increasingly complex operation, there were other crews committed to the battle of 30 June 2013 who, as adjacent units, were coordinating and interacting with GMIHC.
      ———————————————————————————

      NOTE: Not an error… but note the fact that the Yarnell Hill Fire workplace is being specifically called ‘a battle’ and that employees who were present in that workplace are also described ( in pure military terms ) as “crews commited to the battle”. This sets the TONE for almost the entire ‘Staff Ride Guide’, which I supposed is to be expected since the ‘OMNA International’ company that was contracted to produce the document is all run by ex-marines who also do some of the most famous Military ‘Staff Rides’ like the ones for Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, etc. The emphasis on a MILITARY ‘culture’ being directly applied to firefighting is a ‘theme’ that is pervasive in this document, ending with that “Sometimes DEATH is preferable to DISHONOR” document at the end of the ‘Guide’… complete with a full color reproduction of the logo of the United States Marine Corp. I imagine MANY of the family members of the men who died found this all to be HIGHLY offensive… but we’ll let them talk about that.

      The very next paragraph in the ‘Gudie’ then begins with this sentence…
      —————————————————————————————
      First was the Blue Ridge IHC (BRIHC), they arrived on the fire around 1030 on 30 June.
      —————————————————————————————

      That is absolutely FALSE.

      According to Dispatch logs and Unit Logs that the SAIT always had in their possession… the Blue Ridge Hotshots had accepted the assignment for Yarnell at 1830 on Saturday evening. The Dispatch logs say they would be arriving in Yarnell at 6:00 AM the following morning, but the Blue Ridge Hotshots actually spent Saturday night in a Comfort Inn Hotel in Camp Verde… and they didn’t even LEAVE that Hotel parking lot unto 6:30 AM.

      From the “I- Dispatch Records.pdf” document in the SAIT evidence folder…
      ————————————————————————————————–
      Date/Time: 06/29/2013 18:21:06
      From: CH To: SWCC
      Message: PLACED 2 TYPE 1 CREW ORDERS UP TO YOU TO BE IN YARNELL, AZ
      AT 0600 TOMORROW

      Date/Time: 06/29/2013 18:25:41
      From: FRANK-SWCC
      To: KM UDPATE? // ADVISED ALL // OKAY, I CAN FILL ONE WITH BLUE
      RIDGE. THAT WILL BE THE ONLY IHC I HAVE FOR TOMORROW
      THOUGH. I’LL PROBABLY HAVE A TYPE 2 IA AV THOUGH // I’LL TALK TO THE IC.

      Date/Time: 06/29/2013 2052
      Dispatcher: LG
      Message: Notification from Rob at FDC, Blue Ridge crew leaving in 15
      minutes, RON in Camp Verde, arrive at Yarnell Hill incident tomorrow 6/30 at 0600.

      Date/Time: 06/29/2013 21:20:44
      From: BRHS ( Blue Ridge Hotshots )
      To: BB
      Message: BLUE RIDGE HS RON IN CAMP VERDE
      ————————————————————————————————–

      So the resource order for the Blue Ridge Hotshots was placed at around 1821 ( 8:21 PM ) on Saturday evening… and they DID ‘Rest Overnight’ ( RON ) in Camp Verde… but they did NOT arrive in Yarnell by 6:00 AM as the Dispatch Logs said they would.

      The Blue Ridge Hotshots did not even LEAVE the hotel they were staying at overnight in Camp Verde until 6:30 AM on Sunday morning, June 30, 2016.

      They ARRIVED in Yarnell at 8:00 AM ( and NOT 10:30 AM, as the Staff Ridge Guide says ).

      From the very first paragraph of Blue Ridge Superintendent
      Brian Frisby’s handwritten Unit Log…
      —————————————————————————————————-
      At 1830 on June 29th the Blue Ridge Hotshots were dispatched to the Yarnell Hill Fire on Arizona State land near Yarnell. Due to a late start the crew stayed the night in Camp Verde and headed for the fire at 0630 ( 6:30 AM ) on the 30th. We arrived on the fire and checked in at 0800 ( 8:00 AM ).
      —————————————————————————————————-

      From the very top of Blue Ridge Assistant Superintendent
      Trueheart Brown’s typed Unit Log…
      —————————————————————————————————-
      0630 ( 6:30 AM ) – Blue Ridge departs Comfort Inn, Camp Verde, AZ.
      0800 ( 8:00 AM ) – Blue Ridge IHC arrives at Yarnell hill ICP and checks in.
      —————————————————————————————————-

      From Roy Hall’s first ( of two ) ADOSH inteviews on August 16, 2013.

      Roy Hall told ADOSH that he and Blue Ridge basically arrived in Yarnell together, and that he basically ‘followed them in’ after meeting up with their vehicles near the Kirkland Junction… in the same 7:45 AM to 8:00 AM timeframe on Sunday morning…

      A = Roy Hall – IC of the ‘Type 2 SHORT Team’ reporting to Yarnell Sunday morning
      ————————————————————————————————
      207 A: As I went through Kirkland Junction, the
      208 Blue Ridge Hotshots came by. Uh, when I hit the T in the road there. And I
      209 followed them in. And, uh – and they actually, uh, stopped at the school – I –
      210 as I did. I pulled in towards the school and Byron Kimball was there. Uh, I
      211 stopped and visited with him. He said that they were meeting up at the
      212 Yarnell Fire Department. We both, uh, went back out to the highway, went to
      213 Yarnell Fire Department, where I met with – with, uh, Paul Musser and Todd
      214 Abel, Russ Shumate, Byron, um, and – and we talked about – uh, and that was
      215 at about a quarter to 8:00, uh, somewhere in there generally.
      ————————————————————————————————

      For Blue Ridge… 10:30 AM is the known time when they actually first ‘parked’ their own vehicles out in the ‘Sesame Clearing’ area, right next to where the Granite Mountain Buggies were parked earlier that morning… but the Blue Ridge Hotshots had already been at the Yarnell Hill Fire for 2 1/2 hours by that time and had yet to receive any kind of ‘assignment’ from anyone in fire command.

      The Blue Ridge Hotshots would remain WITHOUT any kind of ‘assignment’ whatsoever for MOST of the day. It was not until later in the afternoon, when SPGS1 Gary Cordes requested they improve that ‘dozer push’ that was only then being accomplished from the Sesame Clearing over to the ‘Youth Camp’ that the Blue Ridge Crew ever received any actual ‘assignment’ that Sunday.

      So right after being WILDLY WRONG about even the TIME when the Blue Ridge Hotshots arrived in Yarnell… the very next sentence in the ‘Guide’ then says this…
      ————————————————————————————————
      They ( Blue Ridge ) were assigned to the south side of the fire made contact with GMIHC and collaboratively came up with a plan to implement an indirect fire line.
      ————————————————————————————————-

      That statement is also FALSE.

      When Blue Ridge first arrived ( at 8:00 AM )… they were only told to ‘stage’ up at the Model Creek Elementary School ICP. They remained there ( doing nothing ) for about an hour… and then they were told to go ‘stage’ down at the Yarnell Hill fire station. They also remained THERE ( doing nothing ) for about another hour. It wasn’t until 10:30 AM before they then ‘relocated’ from the Yarnell Hill Fire station out the same ‘Sesame Clearing’ where Granite Mountain had parked their Crew Carrier earlier that morning… but they ( the Blue Ridge CREW ) still had no ‘assignment’ even after ‘relocating’ there… and for most of the rest of the day.

      The PLAN to improve that east-west trail that led out to the old-grader was already well under way before Blue Ridge even arrived in the Sesame Clearing area at 10:30 AM.

      That ‘plan’ was ‘conceived’ and had begun to be ‘implemented’ without their input, and solely by SPGS1 Gary Cordes, much earlier that morning when the dozer had first arrived in Yarnell.

      ( PDF page 3 ERRORS continued next ‘Reply’ )…

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      ( PDF page 3 ERRORS continued from above )…

      The very next sentence in the ‘Guide’ ( on PDF page 3 ) then says…
      ————————————————————————————————-
      BRIHC knew the location of GMIHC’s lookout and provided for his evacuation that day as well as the repositioning of 4 of GMIHC’s crew trucks prior to the burnover.
      ————————————————————————————————-

      Blue Ridge Hotshots Brian Frisby and Trueheart Brown DID know where Brendan McDonugh’s ‘lookout mound’ was located… because they are the ones who dropped Brendan off by the old-grader at 12:30 PM, while coming down from the face-to-face meeting they had just had with Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed from exactly 11:55 AM to 12:25 PM.

      And Brian Frisby DID give Brendan a ‘ride’ away from that lookout mound later in the day ( at exactly 3:39 PM ) when the fireline reversal had already begun and Brendan had already begun ‘evacuating’ his lookout mound… but the Guide fails to mention that it was a ‘complete accident’ that Brian Frisby had happened to ‘stumble’ across Brendan attempting to ‘evacuate’ the area.

      From Brian Frisby’s own mouth… as captured in one of Prescott National Forest employee Aaron Hulburd’s videos that he shot that Sunday with the filename M2U00271…
      ————————————————————————————————–
      +0:31 ( 1729:31 / 5:29:31 PM )
      ( Brian Frisby – speaking to PNF employee KC ‘Bucky’ Yowell ): …and Eric decided that the trail that kinda follows that ridge… in the green… ( ? that that’s the route )… and that lookout was down below… and I went in to go tie in with Eric… and that’s when it picked up. I just happened to STUMBLE upon the lookout… without the… ( ? rest of ’em )… and I grabbed him… and then we got the rigs out.
      ————————————————————————————————–

      Then this page of the Staff Ride Guide says…
      ————————————————————————————————–
      Second was the Yuma Department of Corrections Crew (DOC). The Yuma DOC crew had been on the fire since the morning of 29 June. A squad of the crew had been working on the ridge where the fire started and then escaped in the afternoon leading to the blowup on June 30.
      ————————————————————————————————–

      Yes… the Type 2 ‘Yuma DOC’ Crew had arrived in Yarnell the morning of Saturday, June 29, 2016… but they were NOT the source of the few firefighters that ICT4 Russ Shumate then sent up to work the fire on the western ridge.

      Those FFs were members of the other Type 2 ‘Lewis DOC’ crew that had also arrived in Yarnell that same morning.

      No one from the ‘Yuma DOC’ crew was ever sent up to the ridge to work on the fire that Saturday at all. The entire 20-man ‘Yuma DOC’ crew spent the entire day on Saturday just sitting around the Yarnell Hill Fire Station parking lot doing nothing at all.

      And Shumate only initially send 6 of the ‘Lewis Crew up there’. So for most of the day… out of the 40 ( FORTY ) Type 2 hand crew WFFs that Arizona Forestry ICT4 Russ Shumate had at his disposal all day Saturday… 34 of them basically ‘sat around’ the Yarnell Hill Fire Department parking lot most of the day doing nothing at all. It was only later in the day, and AFTER the fire had already ‘escaped’ the control of the only 6 FFs Shumate had sent up there earlier that he started to ‘fly’ more of the Lewis Crew ‘up there’.

      But the entire 20-man ‘Yuma DOC’ crew remained completely ‘disengaged’ that whole day.

      Even the original SAIR document ( on which this entire ‘Staff Ride Guide’ is based ) managed to get the ‘Lewis Crew’ fact correct… while this ‘Staff Ride’ does NOT…

      From PDF page 102 of the original SAIR…
      —————————————————————————————————–
      At 1048 ( on Saturday, June 29, 2016 ), BLM helicopter 4HX to drop six firefighters from the Department of Corrections’ Lewis Crew and one helitack crewmember approximately one-quarter mile from the incident and establish a helispot.
      —————————————————————————————————–

      NOTE: The original SAIR got the TIME wrong, but they at least they got the ‘Lewis Crew’ part right. The actual ‘delivery time’ for those 6 Lewis Crew FFs ( under the supervision of Lewis DOC Crew Boss Jake Guadiana ) was more than an hour LATER than the SAIR first reported.

      Indeed… even this Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride ‘Guide’ ends up eventually totally contradicting the original SAIR when they will make the following statement on their own upcoming PDF page 20 of this ‘Guide’… where they will say…
      ———————————————————————————————
      The fire was ignited by lightning on Friday, June 28. The fire was half an acre in size by 1930 on June 28 and the ICT4 decided not to deploy suppression personnel until morning. On 29 June, SEATS worked the fire until 1100 ( 11:00 AM ) when 7 personnel were transported to the fire ( DOC Crew and helitack ).
      ———————————————————————————————

      The ‘Guide’ is even getting the FACTS wrong on this upcoming page ( with regards to the TIME of the ‘insertion’ and the ‘number of personnel’ )… but I will save that for when I get to THAT particular page… because THAT page has even MORE errors.

      That’s pretty much it for the FACTUAL ERRORS on even just this THIRD page of this official Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride.

      35 more pages to go…

  2. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Joy A. Collura post on April 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

    >> Joy A. Collura said…
    >>
    >> In private I am getting communications.
    >>
    >> It is hard that clarity is only coming out in this freedom of speech website
    >> here called investigative media with host/moderator John Dougherty and
    >> the right thing to do is the ones on the fire reach wildfire training academy
    >> and at least tell them what you know.

    World renowned Wildland Fire Investigator Dr. Ted Putnam is not the ONLY person with his kind of reputation to now be saying, publicly, that people HAVE been ‘reaching out to him’ trying to get some kind of ‘secret information’ released regarding what actually happened in Yarnell on June 30, 2013.

    Famous Wildland Fire Fatality author John Maclean said the same thing… almost a YEAR ago.

    He announced, in PUBLIC, that even HE was already being ‘contacted’ by ‘others’ who had important information to share about the Yarnell Hill Fire that wasn’t revealed in any ‘report’.

    Almost a year ago… author John Maclean wrote the following on his PUBLIC Facebook page…

    ————————————————————————————————
    May 19, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    To Paul and Earl… and all those who have asked.
    YES! I am writing a book on Yarnell Hill Fire, with the help of a research team
    including Holly Neill and one other serving FF, name withheld for obvious reasons.
    And it won’t be finished anytime soon.
    YH is a very complicated story and there’s lots of information yet to surface.
    The only survivor, for example, will testify under oath for the first time May 28.
    That would be Brandon McDonough. And OTHERS need — and want — to tell
    their stories, once the legal thicket clears out a bit. I will not rush this story,
    but I will work it.
    ————————————————————————————————

    That THIRD attempt to get Brendan McDonough to ‘tell what he really knows’ also failed shortly after Maclean made that PUBLIC Facebook posting… but notice what else Maclean said…

    “And OTHERS need — and want — to tell their stories, once the legal thicket clears out a bit”.

    So what we are hearing now from even Dr. Ted Putnam is ‘nothing new’.

    Not by a long shot.

    There really do seem to be these ‘OTHERS’ out there ( most likely fireman who were there working that Arizona Forestry workplace when those 19 men died ) desperately reaching out to a variety of known Wildland Fire ‘experts’ and struggling to find a way to get their ‘stories told’.

    I wonder if the OTHERS that Maclean was obviously hearing from are the same OTHERS that have been talking to ‘Ted Putnam’ as well… or whether there a simply a LOT of OTHERS and they are picking/choosing their Wildfire confidants.

    It would not surprise me at all to learn that at least SOME of the OTHERS that both John Maclean and now Dr. Ted Putnam are referring to are, in fact, Blue Ridge Hotshots.

    Perhaps even the 3 Blue Ridge Hotshots that were helping to move the 4 Granite Mountain vehicles that day… and who also heard ALL of the same GM intra-crew radio traffic that Brendan Mcdonough heard and has gone to such great lengths to ‘conceal’.

    • calvin says

      I wonder if there same people have told powers and schoefler what they told Putnam. But it didn’t fit their narrative, so they never divulged this information.

      Seems like they are really connected or they are not.

      • Bob Powers says

        I have given you all the information I have.

        Putnam is a investigator and respected in the FF community he would I am sure be able to get information necessary to the Yarnell Hill Fire.

        He to has names he will not divulge at this time.

  3. calvin says

    Bob.

    Have you heard the things Ted Putnam is saying before this latest article?

    Have your sources also led you to believe that the GMH were ordered down off the mountain?

    • Bob Powers says

      The only order was by Marsh. I have no other connections to any name above Marsh.

      As we have discussed there MAY have been a plan to do something in Yarnell. Were orders given? Or just a move to reengage? The Jury is still out on that one.

  4. Joy A. Collura says

    In private I am getting communications-

    John Dougherty not the site so much but him and his article title names has been the local communities concerns.

    Not Sonny’s concern who is a person who can lay his head down and sleep anywhere but I am connected to the communities; my town of Congress and its surrounding towns’ concerns. It is hard that clarity is only coming out in this freedom of speech website here called investigative media with host/moderator John Dougherty and the right thing to do is the ones on the fire reach wildfire training academy and at least tell them what you know-

    The topic from recent article is HUMAN FACTORS…what human can factor in titles like:
    “Lambs to Slaughter,” when these men perished a horrific death I might say-

    and yesterday’s title “Wildfire expert alleges state coverup on eve of hotshot families’ Yarnell field trip” and so what if Ted said all that—why in manner it was done—

    I told someone in private I would rather heard it a Gabbert’s spot the new dialect where there is this breed of programmable folks reading it rather than here because Ted has very important information but his focus is to Mann Gulch not the YHF-

    so when did it shift to publicly tie him to YHF because last I knew his only focus was Mann Gulch yet people pick his brain on YHF even though he says his only focus is Mann Gulch just like Charlie Moseley’s focus was—

    I have wicked headache that when county just came here for Sonny even they knew about John Dougherty.

    John, the people want clarity- they do…just let’s do it in a better way than this current way-
    I know you all are going to say what he is doing is functional and proper and right but have anyone of you WHO feel that way hiked with the loved ones…ps. you don’t answer Sonny; I know your stance…you are cool with the actions of John speaking the truths; for me it is the manner in it being said…

    I enjoy the freedoms here on investigative media so I guess lesson learned- you don’t appreciate a format of words shared; skip over it. I called that staff ride guy WWTKTT…maybe see him while in town…hope so-

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The article above is not ONLY about this Dr. Ted Putnam guy.

      Read it again.

      There is a LOT of important information in it regarding this actual ‘Staff Ride’, and the fact that it is ONLY based on the original, much-criticized, Arizona Forestry contracted SAIR document.

      The families ( and all firefighters who are supposed to LEARN from this ‘Staff Ride’ ) deserve BETTER.

    • Joy A. Collura says

      I do not know if I owe apology or where it would lay but I want to state addendum that when I first saw title I cringed but as wwtktt said..did you read the whole article and yes I did but I was too locked on title and was like whoah but after sleeping on it and facing this wicked headache today I do now recognize the whole article and I am at peace with it all. Thank you to John Dougherty for allowing me freedom to express my process and my trauma in this journey. All the information took me a bit to absorb.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The ‘English’ version of the video above is here…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C65FcpAi_-4&list=PLB0zwpPSF3eBTxI0DAN7hiAolWtxNYM1A&index=10

      The speaker in this video is Brit Rosso of the US Forestry’s “Wildland Lessons Learned Center”, and he is speaking to ‘all firefighters’ about the ‘Yarnell Hill Fire’.

      What he actually says at the start of the video is this…

      ————————————————————————-
      So my name is Britt Rosso
      Center Manager for the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
      Quick fire background… I spent about 21 years on a Hotshot crew,
      I spent a few years as a District FMO… and then I’ve been workin’
      at the Lessons Learned Center for about the last 3 or so years.

      I’m here today to talk you about the Yarnell Fire.

      We’re all struggling with how to process what happened on June 30, 2013.
      We’re all struggling out in the fire community about where the
      lessons… what are the take-home messages… what can we learn from this incident.
      What I wanna share with you is how important it is to talk about it.
      Not only to talk about it… but to let you know that it’s OKAY to talk about it.
      It’s important that you DO talk about it.
      Share what you’ve leared by reading the… uh… reports… by watchin’
      the videos and have open, honest, respectful dialog.
      Be willing to listen to other people’s opinions and have that respectful
      dialog with your fellow firefighters.
      By having this dialog… by facilitating these conversations about Yarnell.
      This is where the learning’s gonna happen.
      Is with you and your brothers and sisters out there in the field.
      This is the 20th anniversary of South Canyon.
      We’re still learning from South Canyon 20 years later.
      Yarnell just happened eight months ago.
      We’ll be learning about the Yarnell incident for years to come.
      Time and patience are gonna be key when learning from this incident.
      I ask you to just take the time and just be patient as we work through this together.
      ————————————————————————-

      Key message ( to ALL firefighters ): TALK ABOUT IT!… OPENLY and HONESTLY!

      Britt Rosso is actively participating in the development of this ‘Yarnell Hill Fire Staff Ride’.

      But despite his own words in the video… we can now see that the ‘Staff Ride’ even Brit Rosso is working on is still TOTALLY based on ONLY the original Arizona Forestry SAIR document.

      It totally ignores and, indeed, never acknowledges ANY of the additional evidence and information that has been revealed by ANY other investigation or sources since that original Arizona Forestry contracted SAIT team produced their much-criticized document.

      And that includes ALL of the information revealed in the many interviews conducted during the Arizona Department of Safety and Health ( ADOSH ) investigation.

  5. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Thank you, John, for this well-written and well-researched update on the situation..

    It’s good that the family members who are still interested in “The Truth” about what happened to their loved ones have this information BEFORE they go on this ‘Staff Ride’. It may be one of the only remaining times these family members get to even ask any ‘questions’ and have any chance of them being ‘answered’.

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the part where, apparently, the absolute head of this totally taxpayer-funded Arizona Forestry organization and the ‘owner’ of this entire ‘Staff Ride’ effort ( Mr. Jeff Whitney ) is the one who REQUESTED an opportunity to respond to the article BEFORE it was published… but then ‘chickened out’ just before it began because he ( only then? ) realized an interview with a member of the media was going to be “on the record” ( recorded )?

    Like any number of things to do with this tragic incident and its aftermath… that doesn’t even make any sense.

    Here is a FULL transcript of the videoed part of the ‘alternative’ interview with Arizona
    Forestry’s Joy Hernbrode, Deputy Director for Administrative Services.

    The video clip is only 1 minute and 7 seconds long…
    ——————————————————————————————-
    ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): He ( Dr. Ted Putnam ) is saying that he knows
    for a fact that they were ordered off the mountain. That Granite Mountain was ordered off the mountain.

    ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): I do. I haven’t seen any evidence that supports Mr. Putnam’s
    claims… so I don’t know what he has built his belief on… but… we have looked at all the evidence
    in the SAIT report… all the videos… uhm… and it is our opinion that there isn’t ANY evidence
    showing anybody… ah… was ordered off that mountain. However… if somebody HAS evidence
    of that… we definitely would like to see it.

    ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): Allright. And the evidence… even though there’s evidence
    concerning, uh, like, the Gamble video I described earlier where you can hear Mr. Marsh, his
    voice saying “they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire”?

    ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): That… I don’t know who he’s talking to.
    Uhm… more experienced fire folks than I have looked at that and could not conclude
    that… uhm… that was evidence that anybody ordered them off the ( mountain ).

    ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): And it’s… but it’s CLEAR that he’s talkin’ to SOMEONE…
    a firefighter… about the location of Granite Mountain? In your opinion?

    ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): I think I’ve made all the statements I’m going to make for now.

    ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): Very good. Thank you very much.

    ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): Thank you.
    ————————————————————————————-

    So she absolutely admits she is hearing Eric Marsh’s voice in that video… but then Ms. Hernbrode ‘locks up’ at even the suggestion that Eric Marsh MUST have been reporting the status and the whereabouts of Granite Mountain to SOMEONE that a ‘Division Supervisor’ would have felt obligated to ‘report’ to… at that time ( 4:27 PM… just 12 minutes before Jesse Steed’s first MAYDAY call )?

    What?… does she think he was talking to the ‘thin air’ and just happened to press the ‘transmit’ button on his radio while doing so?

    NOTE: Ms. Joy ( Lynn ) Hernbrode is more than just a ‘Deputy Director of Administrative Services’.
    Lawyer.com has her listed as a practicing attorney with her ‘Law Office’ actually located
    INSIDE the ‘Arizona State Forestry Division’. She attended the University of Arizona and
    has been a licensed lawyer ‘In Good Standing’ for 17 years.
    https://www.lawyer.com/joy-hernbrode.html

  6. says

    In memory of…
    in hopes we see people read this and at times comment…
    let’s start looking for better ways to gain clarity…
    Mike Dudley’s way; smooth but not going to get us to change the way they fight fires…

    John Dougherty is the ONLY closest way we have as an outlet to reach that goal-
    so for that, thank you John Dougherty to have a place to contribute our pains and hurt and inquiries and frustrations and questions “freely”…thank you sir.

    United not Divided says

    October 1, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Enough! Enough finger pointing, mud-slinging, and name calling. None of it will bring these brave men back to us, and it is all counterproductive! When I read through these posts (and those in similar articles), I see one common thread…hurt. We are all hurting from this tragic event and lashing out at one another seems to be a common way of coping. But criticizing colleagues, coworkers, and friends is no way to deal with such insurmountable loss. We all loved and admired these men. We are all struggling with their loss and handling those emotions differently. I am not defending any particular individual or condoning any specific remark, but as a firefighting community, we cannot let those emotions divide us. Stop blaming one another and start working together to make firefighting as safe as possible. Stop tearing each other down in grief and sorrow; instead lift one another up through encouragement and support. Let’s start acting in a way that would make them proud of us and honor their memory.

  7. Joy A. Collura says

    I would like to ask Joy, who are these “more experienced” fire folks than her…who is better than the country’s top fire fatality fire expert?

    the sait/sair report does not have it all- the evidence are in the missing elements.
    Please Lord, please…this lady Joy speaks well like Mike Dudley speaks well but we need people who were there to “speak up” finally…

    • Joy A. Collura says

      did I hear her right
      did she say “more experienced” fire folks and her or than her?
      either way.
      who has more experience on fire fatalities that speak the TRUTH out there in the world- can you tell me?

  8. J. Stout says

    Well, Calvin and Charlie, where’s Mr. Putnam’s evidence?

    Or is that something you do not need to wait for? No one placed under oath, no benefit of cross-examination or anything like that? No weighing the evidence — just leap straight into handing down a conviction and promptly passing sentence works for you, does it?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Who do YOU think Eric Marsh was ‘reporting’ to ( as heard in the YARNELL-GAMBLE video shot by Blue Ridge Hotshot Ronald Gamble ) at exactly 4:27 PM… just 12 minutes before Jesse Steed would make his first botched-MAYDAY call at 4:39 PM?

      Or… to put it another way… WHO would a ‘Division Supervisor’ on a fire even feel obligated to report that kind of ‘status’ to over the radio?

      Even the dead man’s WIFE has now CONFIRMED that is HIM reporting the ‘status’ of Granite Mountain’s hike progress to SOMEONE… at exactly 4:27 PM.

      WHO do YOU think Eric was talking to, at that point?

      Just curious.

      • Eric says

        The “chain of command” would be; Division Sup > Branch Director > Operations Section Chief. Branch Director may not have been a filled position on this incident in which case it would go Div Sup. > Ops Sec Chief. That hierarchy is how communications would flow back and forth. In this instance it should have been an Ops Sec Chief he was communicating with and reporting crew location and status..

  9. Joy A. Collura says

    question to John Dougherty-

    why would you want to write an article the eve before-

    it is already a very hard and sensitive time?

    Do you think this article will enhance their staff ride experience or bring doubt to it?

    Just trying to understand knowing some of them I feel I cannot even send them a link for a heads up…I am choked up on this…just wondering…

    I am all for clarity…but timing is where I am like ????

    Help me get how today was the day to make this public…

    Sonny- thank you for the heads up and keeping me in the loop but I am stuck to not say “thank you” just because I am like ???

    • Charlie says

      The truth is all that matters in a situation like this. Dr. Ted Putnam’s credentials speak well as does his experience in matters concerning wild land fire fatalities. If you know Ted personally, and I am happy to say I do, he has the evidence he speaks of or else he would never make the statements he does. He is looking out for the lives of young fire fighters and has that foremost in line.

      As far as loved ones go, they too want the reason the young ones died. If you had hiked there, Ted has as have many other experienced wild land fire fighters you would know a great mistake was made. It is obvious that Marsh as well as Steed had their hesitant moments of risking their men’s lives. As Willis said, that is what they do–protect structures. They did their own creed–from top to bottom–they strictly took the orders to attempt to do just that. Whoever ordered them down there had a hand in this. Again, old Sonny was on the mountain and as the Mayor of Prescott common sense goes a long ways. Common sense tells me after reading their regimen and seeing all the redactions, keep your mouth shut orders, and award giving, common sense again says those men had pressure from above.

      Now that does not excuse Marsh or Steed. Nor does it excuse a sloppy order or system where all rules were broken causing the death of the men. Nor does it excuse withholding the truth from the loved ones and especially those future fire fighting efforts that can learn from the many mistakes made during this ordeal–Arizona’s worst fire fighting effort ever.

      • Charlie says

        correction That was Mayor Kuykendahl who said that common sense goes a long ways but all that have hiked that trail know that discarding all common sense rules LCES and breaking all 10 and 18 is not common sense.

    • Woodsman says

      Joy,

      Have you read the ‘facilitators guide’ to the staff ride? A lie repeated enough times becomes truth and this simply cannot stand if we ever intend to prevent these tragedies from occurring again in the future. No family should have to endure what the families of GM have been through. Enough is enough.

      They had their chance to own up to the mistakes and not only have they not done that, they handed out awards and have defended the living and condemned the dead. People at IM have done the same. It’s heinous.

      They’ve done it all to protect the flawed system, reward the chiefs and have added insult to injury by pissing on the working man. Fucking Battalion chief’s and cronies can live with what they’ve done. What better time than now = before one more nail is put into the lid on the box of the official ‘narrative’ of the disaster at Yarnell HIll? You know what? I’ve got a crowbar and I’m going to keep pulling nails out of the lid on that box of lies.

      The families and all who loved GM have EARNED the right to know the truth. They deserve at least that much.

      We’ll never know what happened? The hell we won’t!

      Woodsman

      • Joy A. Collura says

        I understand Woodsman. My view is if the narratives happen than the system becomes deeper in the insidious faulty way they currently fight the fires but there has to be a BETTER way not a BITTER way to approach this so my question was “timing”- the evening before these people go out to walk where their loved ones perished- that’s tough. Bob Powers, any feedback- you are a child of this kind of situation and I respect your view on this-
        so I agree with John and Sonny that Dr. Ted Putnam would not place out information like such unless he had solid sources yet I challenged John MacLean and Holly Neill on topics like this awhile ago and I know those 2 “know” crucial people in this and I just wonder is there a more approachable way on a delicate topic. I saw the ribbons on the trail and I only question one area but spot on for the rest and I wonder why Saturday is excluded from staff ride of what the Prison Crew did and the helispot…Now, for the sharing on the staff ride it was told to me they have to follow the SAIR for such walk but I would think if the family hikes it like others have they can read between the lines there. In some areas its obvious. Will Brendan be present? or Brian F.? I hope Fred is able to go- he can help us understand it better…I for sure thought Gary would chime in on me and call me yoda again…I support this site and I support the continued efforts but I just wonder what is the behind the scenes talks at Ted’s house right now- A lot of people want clarity and I am one of them but sometimes it is hard being so sensitive as I am to hear it—and maybe Gary said some truth from his movie inserts- maybe in reality I could not handle the truths…I also am shocked the article did not come out with Bill Gabbert too- yet I reckon that is WHY they call John Dougherty an INVESTIGATIVE journalist- Why did Joy cut the interview so short? that did not seem good to me at all.

          • Joy A. Collura says

            Woodsman-

            Dr. Ted Putnam speaks well and I just still cannot see him being tied to the article with “that” title—I can see him saying the stuff IN article and be in support of having a few paragraphs on his view but this article seems like it is all about Ted and his view versus a part of a bigger article- I am going to re-ask some firefighters on the scene to speak up again in private because as much as it is great to “hear” his- Ted’s views—I want the people on the fire to open up. In a sense it reminded me when I read it the time I surprised Ted by announcing him at the Yavapai courthouse as my witness and he had no clue I was about to do that but I did because I was trying to work myself through a health thing…he forgave me but it was not at all right to do that to him especially when I knew after hearing Willis’ hearsay that it was going to remain in place…this kinda has that feel about it like yeah Ted said it but maybe Ted is not even aware of the article and its content— ???

        • Gary Olson says

          I don’t know what to say right now other than I am dumbstruck at how flawed the staff ride guide is, how you could possibly think there could ever be a BETTER time to publish this article, how well written, insightful and informative the article by John Dougherty is, how much I agree with everything Woodsman said and I want to go to Home Depot and buy the biggest fucking crow bar I can find, how sad I am for the crew that their memory is being tarnished with garbage like this staff ride and how grateful I am that Dr. Ted Putnam, who is the world’s foremost expert in wildland firefighter safety and was the first true pioneer in that area and who is universally respected for his lifetime body of work finally weighed in and BOOM goes the dynamite! I am also gratified to see that literally EVERYTHING I told John Dougherty had happened to the crew and why it happened from my dining room shortly after the fire when he was writing his first article has been shown to be correct…time after time. I will probably think of more later, but that is where I am at right now. Thank you for asking. And yes, you are channeling Yoda in fine fashion on this go around, keep up the good work.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to Joy A. Collura post on April 4, 2016 at 8:34 pm

          >> Joy A. Collura said…
          >>
          >> Why did Joy ( Hernbrode, of Arizona Forestry ) cut the
          >> interview so short? that did not seem good to me at all.

          Because she is a lawyer… and she realized that she had just admitted ( for the record… and on behalf of Arizona Forestry ) that there is no doubt that the person reporting the hiking status of Granite Mountain over the radio to SOMEONE at 4:27 PM on June 30, 2016 was, in fact Eric Marsh.

          John Dougherty had just said ( to her )…

          “…there IS evidence… like, the Gamble video I described earlier where you can hear Mr. Marsh, his voice saying “they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire”…”

          Joy Hernbrode then ‘acknowledged’ that was, in fact, Eric Marsh’s voice in the Gamble video by responding with just…

          “That… I don’t know who he’s talking to”.

          She did NOT say “I don’t know if that is Eric Marsh”.
          She did NOT say “That voice hasn’t been confirmed yet”.

          All she said was “I don’t know who he was talking to”.

          NOTE: Joy Hernbrode was fully aware that Amanda Marsh herself has now CONFIRMED that is Eric’s voice… and so there’s no use denying it anymore.

          But the minute she realized that SHE, herself, did not DENY or even QUESTION whether the voice really did belong to ‘Eric Marsh’… her ‘lawyer alarm bells’ were then going off in her head…

          …because she realized that even just that one statement she just made ( on the record and on behalf of Arizona Forestry ) totally contradicts what the SAIT concluded and became one of the ‘major headlines’ following the release of the SAIR document… that there were no ‘verifiable’ direct communications with Eric Marsh or Granite Mountain for a 30 minute period leading up to their deaths.

          Actually… just for reference… here is the statement in the SAIR that Joy Hernbrode realized she had just totally contradicted…

          From PDF page 7 of the original SAIR document…
          ———————————————————————
          There is a gap of over 30 minutes in the information available for the Granite Mountain IHC. From 1604 until 1637, the Team cannot verify communications from the crew, and we have almost no direct information for them.
          ———————————————————————

          SIDENOTE: Notice the ‘crafty’ language that has always been in just this one sentence in the original SAIR document. They were careful to NOT say they didn’t actually HAVE ‘evidence of direct communications’ with Granite Mountain in the critical timeframe. All they said was they couldn’t ( for some mysterious reason ) VERIFY that ‘evidence’. Notice that they also finish that sentence with “and we have ALMOST no direct information for them”. We all know the only 2 places where ALMOST only counts. Having ‘ALMOST no direct information’ automatically means that you really DO actually have ‘SOME direct information’… but you simply don’t want to acknowledge it or talk about it.

          So after confirming ( on the record ) that it really was Eric Marsh’s voice in the Gamble video… Joy Hernbrode knew that she better ‘shut down’ this line of questioning ‘most ricky tick’… before she got into even more trouble.

          She had just admitted the voice in that video WAS, despite what the SAIT said, ‘perfectly verifiable’. All you had to do was talk to someone ( anyone ) who knew Eric Marsh… which John Dougherty had already done.

          So that’s why she walked on top of John Dougherty’s next question and didn’t even let him finish getting it out of his mouth…

          ———————————————————–
          ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): But it’s CLEAR that he’s talkin’ to SOMEONE… a firefighter… about the location of Granite Mountain? In your opinion?

          ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): I think I’ve made all the statements I’m going to make for now.
          ———————————————————–

          There was NO WAY that ( licensed lawyer ) Joy Hernbrode was going to just say YES to that next question.

          Bad enough she just admitted ( on behalf of Arizona Forestry ) that there has ALWAYS been this ‘easily verifiable’ direct communication with Eric Marsh sitting right there in the evidence that the SAIT had ALWAYS had in their possession… there was NO WAY she was going to dig the hole deeper and admit ( on the record ) that YES… Eric Marsh was NOT just ‘talking to the thin air’… nor was he “ordering a pizza’.

          He WAS, in fact, reporting the hiking status of Granite Mountain to SOMEONE else working in the same Arizona Forestry workplace… and just 12 minutes before Jesse Steed’s first MAYDAY would hit the Air-To-Ground channel.

          Just for completeness… here again is a FULL transcript of the videoed part of the ‘alternative’ interview with Arizona Forestry’s Joy Hernbrode, Deputy Director for Administrative Services.

          The video clip is only 1 minute and 7 seconds long…
          ——————————————————————————————-
          ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): He ( Dr. Ted Putnam ) is saying that he knows for a fact that they were ordered off the mountain. That Granite Mountain was ordered off the mountain.

          ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): I do. I haven’t seen any evidence that supports Mr. Putnam’s claims… so I don’t know what he has built his belief on… but… we have looked at all the evidence in the SAIT report… all the videos… uhm… and it is our opinion that there isn’t ANY evidence showing anybody… ah… was ordered off that mountain. However… if somebody HAS evidence of that… we definitely would like to see it.

          ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): Allright. And the evidence… even though there’s evidence concerning, uh, like, the Gamble video I described earlier where you can hear Mr. Marsh, his voice saying “they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire”?

          ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): That… I don’t know who he’s talking to. Uhm… more experienced fire folks than I have looked at that and could not conclude that… uhm… that was evidence that anybody ordered them off the ( mountain ).

          ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): And it’s… but it’s CLEAR that he’s talkin’ to SOMEONE… a firefighter… about the location of Granite Mountain? In your opinion?

          ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): I think I’ve made all the statements I’m going to make for now.

          ( John Dougherty, InvestigativeMEDIA ): Very good. Thank you very much.

          ( Joy Hernbrode, Arizona Forestry ): Thank you.
          ————————————————————————————-

  10. Charlie says

    Thanks for that article John. Dr. Ted Putnam is right on. He in one person you can count on for the truth. Joy Hernbrode has her blinders on. Ted says this is the problem, they make themselves look good at the expense of future fire fighter lives. I wonder what experience Joy has in investigating wild land fire fatalities. It is a specialty that few would have expertise in, but I happen to know Dr. Putnam and do know he is one of the best in that field, if not the best. You can bank on what Dr. Putnam says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Are you a human? *