Comments

  1. Gary Olson says

    Joy – I did not call Elizabeth a “fool.” In fact, I did not call anyone a fool. I said I did not argue with fools. That statement implied that I thought Elizabeth’s stable of closet fire experts who are attempting to make a case that the Granite Mountain Hotshots had to leave the black and march in front of a wall of flames were fools, and I was not going to argue with them. Now, if Elizabeth wants to try on that shoe, and if it fits her, that is up to her.

    The bottom line is this. Tex instinctively knew to leave the area in the right direction (there were several to choose from) at the right time (other times would have worked as well) but the Granite Mountain Hotshots under the leadership of Eric Marsh as the Division A Supervisor and Jesse Steed as the Acting Crew Boss made a calculated and conscious decision to march their crew in the direction the fire was burning, south by southeast, as it was being driven by very strong outflow winds from a thunder cell that had been predicted to appear by the National Weather Service well in advance. AFTER being strongly advised to remain where they were, SAFE and in the BLACK.

    And both Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed acknowledged that they received that warning and in fact observed the weather event in progress, and they clearly observed the fire had in fact reversed direction, and was now putting up a pyro cumulous cloud of ash and smoke that rose several thousand feet in the air, which every firefighter and every other person with any common sense knows means the situation has deteriorated to the point that there is nothing any person, or any equipment invented or built by people, can do to try and control said fire.

    I have long been asking the question, “Why did the Granite Mountain Hotshots die?” in an attempt to reconcile what I had heard from others about Eric Marsh with what Eric Marsh did. RTS has now answered that question based on the consensus of the most highly recognized and respected leaders in the field of hotshot crews today…and that was a group of hotshot superintendents who walked the remains of the Yarnell Hill Fire. Eric Marsh made a catastrophic mistake, and he killed himself and his crew.

    Although RTS is technically correct, Jesse Steed could have overruled Eric Marsh who was acting as Division Group Supervisor, since Jesse Steed was Acting as the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew Boss, and refused to follow him…so Jesse Steed does have some responsibility for that decision as well. BUT, I think that we all can acknowledge (or at least I can) that in the real world, Jesse Steed was obligated to follow Eric Marsh once his decision was made.

    The crew also had some obligation (according to others, not me) to voice their objections to follow their leaders down such a reckless path, which was a death chute, and that path was obviously a death chute, since similar death chutes have been killing hotshots since 1966, and they have been pointed out in countless training exercises to be death chutes. But I happen to know in the real world of hotshots, that choice was not an option for the crew…so they died as hotshots. Doing exactly what their leaders ordered them to do, which by the way, works almost all of the time, in fact, that method for survival has only failed hotshots 4 times in the history of wildland firefighting, the Loop Fire of 1966 (12 El Cariso Hotshots dead, including the crew boss), the Battlement Creek Fire of 1976 (3 Mormon Lake Hotshots dead, including the crew boss, with a fourth hotshot severely burned), and the South Canyon Fire of 1994 (9 Prineville Hotshots dead)…and the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013 (19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead, including the crew boss).

    I have reconciled what I heard about the Granite Mountain Hotshots with what Eric Marsh did, because I had heard how good Eric Marsh was from Darrell Willis and his circle of fire buddies. That assessment turned out to be exaggerated or misplaced or something else altogether, other that correct. Eric Marsh decided to break almost all of the rules that have been developed over more than 100 years of widland firefighting in American, specifically to protect wildland firefighters…all at once, and apparently without a backup plan.

    So…the big question has been answered for me. There remains however, several unanswered questions which are…exactly what role did everyone else play in contributing or casual factors in the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots? I’m afraid that discussion is going to outlive you, me, and everyone else who is participating in the thread. BUT…I am convinced that there are many others who are also responsible for the deaths of those 19 heroes, and most of them work for the State of Arizona, Division of Forestry, and the City of Prescott, Prescott Fire Department.

    HOWEVER, I think the leadership of the both the City of Prescott of and State of Arizona should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves, “What could I have done to prevent this tragedy?”

    Now…may God bless both you and Tex in all of your future hikes and endeavors together, and I want to thank both you and Tex for all of your tireless efforts to bring some clarity to what is now the worst disaster (baring the Idaho fires of 1910, which don’t really count) in the history of wildland firefighting in the United States. May you find what we are all searching for…a way to fix our broken hearts, or at least make them feel just a little bit better.

  2. John Dougherty says

    Please move comments to Chapter VI. Please provide feedback on whether it is easier to have the most recent comments posted at the top of the string or at the end. Thanks, John

  3. Robert the Second says

    I wrote this phrase down yesterday to touch on it today. It’s been bandied about a few times recently. “Speaking ill of the dead.”

    We’re NOT ‘speaking ill of the dead’ but we are speaking to and addressing what they DID or DID NOT do that resulted in their deaths. THEY were the ones that made the bad decisions with the bad outcomes. No one else made those fatal decisions for them, no one held a virtual gun to their heads, there was NO Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads threatening them.

    So, it’s only fair that I back off Marsh being the one totally responsible for the GMHS fatalities. Marsh was the Division Supervisor of DIV A that day and Jesee Steed was the Acting GMHS Superintendent. Therefore, Steed was fully responsible that day for the GMHS safety and welfare. Even though Marsh may have been tangentially responsible for the fatal outcomes that day, Steed was the one ultimately responsible for what happened June 30th.

    Steed and Matrsh knew or should have known better to strictly follow the well established WFF Rules on June 30th.

  4. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** DAVE LARSEN, ONE OF THE AUTHORS OF THE
    ** ADOSH WFAR REPORT, HAS DIED

    Apologies if some think this is ‘off topic’ for this ongoing discussion… but if
    you read all three sections below you will see that it is not.

    It involves Dave Larsen, the infamous Station Fire in California, a chance
    meeting and a ‘backfire’ operation between Larsen, the Helena Hotshots, and
    Marsh and the Granite Mountain Hotshots on September 1, 2009, at the
    infamous Station Fire.

    Dave Larsen was the one who was in charge of analyzing the fire operations
    and overhead performance on the Yarnell Hill Fire for the ADOSH Wildland Fire
    Associates Report ( WFAR ).

    The WFAR was contracted by ADOSH and was the basis for most of their own
    reported findings and FINE recommendations, and was released at the same
    time the ADOSH report was released.

    The WFAR never got much press ( or even much attention ). It has a narrative
    that reads a lot like the SAIR ( and, indeed, borrowed a lot of timeline verbatim
    from the SAIR )… but it really was quite different from the SAIR.

    The WFAR ( due in no small part to Mr. Dave Larsen himself ) came to its OWN
    conclusions that the organizational aspects and operational performance on the
    Yarnell Fire bordered on ‘chaos’ and that there was FAR too much emphasis
    being placed on structure protection that day ( but not even doing that very
    well or even very safely ).

    Mr. Dave Larsen personally felt VERY strongly that Wildland Firefighting and
    Structural Firefighting ‘cultures’ should NOT be ‘mixed’ and is quoted ( even in
    his own obituary reprinted below ) as saying that he could “Never understand
    risking lives to save structures”.

    The last paragraph of his actual obituary ( below ) is worth reading. It is all about
    how he hoped his work on the ADOSH WFAR report would someday help to
    save lives.

    Rest in peace… Dave Larsen.

    ** DAVE LARSEN’S OBITUARY

    Dave Larsen’s Obituary ( with a photo of him )…

    http://helenair.com/news/local/obituaries/dave-larsen/article_1ab8f7ee-96e3-11e3-89f9-001a4bcf887a.html?comment_form=true

    From the Obituary…
    _________________________________________________________________
    Dave Larsen — the man, the myth, the legend — left us without warning
    on Feb. 12, 2014. Dave was born April 6, 1952, in Omaha, Neb., to Delbert
    and Frances (Hamon) Larsen. He joined his older brother, Dan, and they
    spent their early years in Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas on various
    Air Force bases. In 1961, his father got a job in Kalispell, where Dave
    lived until moving to Helena in 1968 and graduating from Helena High
    School in 1970. Dave went on to earn both a bachelor’s degree in
    history and an electrical engineering degree from MSU (Go, Bobcats!).

    Dave spent the majority of his career working for the U.S. Forest Service
    in fire management, beginning with a job manning Hogback Lookout and,
    after more 30 years, retiring as the fire management officer on the Helena
    Ranger District. To say Dave’s career was amazing is an understatement.
    He became nationally recognized as an expert in all aspects of fire
    management. He held numerous positions over the years on incident
    command teams, achieving status as one of the few and elite National
    Type 1 Incident commanders. He became one of only five IC’s who were
    certified in all three genres of firefighting — fire suppression, prescribed fire
    and the use of fire in wilderness. (See IR article from June 12, 2009.) In
    addition to the numerous fire assignments around the country, Dave also
    played a support role in historical events such as Hurricane Katrina and
    Columbia Shuttle Recovery efforts.

    Utmost in Dave’s philosophy, however, was firefighter safety.
    He could never understand risking lives to save structures.
    As such, a recent accomplishment he was very proud of was his
    work with Wildland Fire Associates on an investigation of the
    Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona last summer where 19 firefighters perished.
    Dave felt like his contributions would make a difference in keeping
    lives safe in the future.
    ________________________________________________________________

    ** DAVE LARSEN – WFAR AUTHOR

    Page 5 of the WFAR…

    DAVE LARSEN, ANALYSIS OF FIRE OPERATIONS & OVERHEAD TEAM

    Page 45 of WFAR…

    DAVE LARSEN, B.S.
    SENIOR CONSULTANT
    Mr. Larsen is an expert in fire management and the tactical application of
    resources in fire suppression. Mr. Larsen has held the positions of Incident
    Commander Type I, Deputy Incident Commander Type I, Incident Commander
    Type II, Prescribed Burn Boss Type I, Prescribed Fire Manager Type I, and Fire
    Use Manager Type I. Mr. Larsen’s fire management experience includes work
    as a fire lookout, district engine foreman and crewmember, district trail
    crewmember, district brush disposal crew and a hot shot crew supervisor.
    Mr. Larsen was a District Fire Management Officer as well as a Forest Fire
    Management Officer for the Helena National Forest. Mr. Larsen’s expertise
    includes All-Risk Incident Commander including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
    Operation Section Chief, Type II, and Fire Behavior Analyst, Type II. Additionally,
    Mr. Larsen has Instructed S290, S390, S490, S339, S330, I400 and other ICS
    courses.

    ** DAVE LARSEN, THE HELENA HOTSHOTS, THE STATION FIRE,
    ** AND ERIC MARSH AND GRANITE MOUNTAIN

    In a strange twist of fate…

    Dave Larsen’s BIO in WFAR says he was a ‘Hot Shot Supervisor’…
    but it fails to mention that he was, in fact, the Superintendent of the
    Helena Hotshots… who worked with Eric Marsh and the Granite Mountain
    Hotshots during the ‘Station Fire’ in California in 2009.

    ( NOTE: The Station Fire is one of the ones mentioned by both
    Elizabeth and RTS just yesterday ).

    The Helena Hotshots were mostly assigned to help protect the
    historic Mount Wilson Observatory during their time on the Station Fire.

    There are public accounts online at the Mount Wilson Observatory itself
    of the efforts that were made to protect the observatory and they
    mention BOTH the “Helena Hotshots’ AND the “Granite Mountain Hotshots”.

    On one particular day… the Granite Mountain Hotshots deployed from
    the parking lot of the Mount Wilson Observatory itself and, together
    with the Helena Hotshots, were assigned to perform ‘backfires’ near the
    observatory for most of that one day they were working together.

    There are no ‘revelations’ in these (public) accounts… or any ‘stories’ about
    how those ‘backfiring’ operations really went… but I just thought
    I would point out this connection between Dave Larsen, Superintendent
    of the Helena Hotshots in 2009, Eric Marsh, Granite Mountain, and
    then Dave Larsen’s ultimate participation in the very investigation
    that tried to find out what really happened to Marsh and Granite
    Mountain four years later on June 30, 2013.

    Again… RIP Dave Larsen.

    We all share your hope that one day, a FULL, complete investigation of what
    really happened in Yarnell on June 30, 2013, will help save lives in the future.

      • Gary Olson says

        It sounds to me like Dave Larsen had it all figured out and was right about everything. What a loss to the world of wildland firefighters.

        Thanks

        • Bob Powers says

          I am trying to figure out what’s going on here I knew Larsen He was a Fire management officer and type 1 IC in 2009 not a Superintendent. But still would have been a supervisor on that fire in some capacity, and had both crews under him.

          • Robert the Second says

            Bob,

            You’re correct. According to the Helena HS webpage, Larsen was their Superintendent (Crew Boss in those days) from 1983 through 1988.

    • Marshall Krotenberg says

      WTKTT – Thank you for the detailed post.

      I only new Dave for a short time but during that time I learned that he was extremely passionate about his trade, his peers, and his family. He worked hard, thought deeply, and was thoughtful of others.

  5. Gary Olson says

    J. Stout said, “Am glad you spoke up about this, Mr. Powers. Because she is playing her own game here. And it’s the WFF’s who are getting played.”

    Spooky, and not something I considered. Although I thought you were going to say she is collecting information on the side for a book she is planning on writing. I strongly agree with WTKTT, and everyone else that no one should be collecting information on the side and privately. This is supposed to be a public forum.

    Thanks

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      For the record, I ( me, personally ) have NO problem with anyone
      ‘collecting information’ regarding the Yarnell Hill Fire or anything
      related to it. I actually wish more people WERE doing just that,
      AND sharing it publicly.

      We are not talking about Exxon Mobile, here.

      ALL of the agencies involved with this incident are PUBLIC
      agencies, funded with PUBLIC money, and pretty much every
      single person who was ‘working’ that fire that day is, in
      fact, a PUBLIC servant ( though I gather now that most of
      them hate to ever be reminded of that simple fact ).

      ANYONE is allowed to file FOIA ( Freedom of Information Act )
      or APRR ( Arizona Public Records Requests ).

      What I DO have a problem with is someone continually
      ‘announcing’ ( on any PUBLIC forum ) that they have ‘all this
      information that others don’t have’… and then refusing to
      talk about it in an open manner.

      To me… that’s just more ‘game playing’… and we’ve certainly
      already had enough of THAT regarding this incident.

      I am absolutely sure that some people known for writing books
      about Wildland Fire also already have a lot of information
      that ‘we don’t have’… and I’m sure we will probably see the
      results of THEIR efforts one of these days ( because that’s
      what they do for a living )…

      …but as for ‘other’ people who have gone to great lengths
      to obtain the information but still won’t share that information
      OR say what they plan to do with it… OR answer any
      questions about even what they keep saying they know
      that others don’t…

      …well… that’s their business, I guess.

      It’s all gonna come out (in public) eventually… I guarantee.

      I am hoping for sooner rather than later.

      • Gary Olson says

        Well… agree with you, in fact I said,

        Spooky, and not something I considered. Although I thought you were going to say she is collecting information on the side for a book she is planning on writing. I strongly agree with WTKTT, and everyone else that no one should be collecting information on the side and privately. This is supposed to be a public forum.

        Thanks

        Which part of that do you think disagrees with what you are saying?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Well… I guess what I meant was…. ( I’m gonna
          reverse your quote for a second )…

          >> This is supposed to be a public forum.

          Indeed… it is nothing but that.

          This is just ONE place where, as you said…

          The GOOD news is that we have a public forum
          to share our opinions.
          The BAD news is that we have a public forum
          to share our opinions.

          ROFL

          >> no one should be collecting information on the
          >> side and privately.

          I could care less who is ( or isn’t ) ‘collecting
          information on the side’ and/or ‘privately’.

          That’s their business.

          I wish more people WERE doing that… AND
          then ‘sharing’ the information instead of holding
          onto it like’s it’s some sort of personal prize.

          • Gary Olson says

            Well, I was referring to me mostly. The good news is I have a place to put my opinions and thoughts, the bad news is that I have a place to put my opinions and thoughts because obviously I should keep a lot of them to myself.

            And as far as collecting information on the side, I am still having no luck with getting my full explanation of that sentence and my explanation to Elizabeth through for some reason and I hope it doesn’t eventually show up 6 times.

            You right, I don’t care how much information anybody collects and obviously anybody can have anything I have, including most of my random thoughts on this subject.

            BUT, I do think to continually obliquely and coyly referring to information that someone has collected in a teasing manner is not cool when that someone puts forth what I consider to be ridiculous theories which are supposedly substantiated by an unknown stable of experts who have graphs and charts and who knows what else that is being used to support them under the guise of exploring all options, well…I don’t think that how a public forum is supposed to work.

            The word “scary” refers to the possibility that WFF are being played for one side or the other, although as I have continually said, I do think the county and the state own a lot of this tragedy as contributing or casual factors. So if Elizabeth is working for them, I would actually help her if I could.

              • Gary Olson says

                The Readers Digest version of my comment that won’t go through is that I did not call Elizabeth a “fool”, I implied that I though her stable of experts are fools to try and make a case that Eric Marsh had to leave the black because of anticipated weather conditions or other ridiculous reasons.

                Eric Marsh and the Granite Moutian Hotshots were in a SAFE place and they could have gone in almost any direction other than what they did and it would have been safe at almost any time except when they did and they would have been safe.

                I also explained in some detail we should be thanking RTS for his inside information and insight and not attacking him.

                I also said that RTS answered the big question for me, which is “Why did the Granite Mountain Hotshots die?” And that is the part that is “case closed” for me. It was hard to accept, but I have to.

                The discussion can go on forever as far as I’m concerned, there are still a lot of unanswered questions like all of those contributing factors.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                Reply to Gary Olson post on
                March 22, 2014 at 4:08 am

                >> Gary asked…
                >> What does ROFL mean?

                Sorry about that.
                It’s GEEK talk ( acronyms ).

                LOL
                Laughing Out Loud

                ROFL
                Rolling On The Floor Laughing

                LMAO
                Laughing My Ass Off

                LMFAO
                Laughing My Fucking Ass Off

                ROFLALMFAO
                Rolling On the Floor Laughing
                AND Laughing My Fucking
                Ass Off ( simultaneously )

                AFAICT
                As Far As I Can Tell

                IIRC
                If I Recall Correctly

                IAOI
                If ( And Only If )

                Stuff like that.

  6. Gary Olson says

    Elizabeth,

    I am having trouble getting my response to go through…so here is the short answer while I am waiting for that to happen. Please go back and read my comment, I did not call you a fool.

  7. Robert the Second says

    Joy,

    Here’s my response to your March 21 at 12:59 post:

    “Joy, You posted “how people respect all BUT Elizabeth’s comments…” (I emphasized here)

    I think it’s fair to say that I and all others here respect Elizabeth’s comments when they make sense, are not hypocrtical, not logical fallacies, and not contradictory.

    If they fall into the above categories, then I and others are going to disagree and comment accordingly – and we do. It’s a PUBLIC FORUM. And yet we are railed on because of that. To disagree is NOT to be intolerant. It’s just a disagreement.

    The ‘tolerance’ individuals seem to feel that way though. As long as you agree with them, then you’re tolerant, but once you disagree with them then you’re intolerant. WTF is that all about? Liberal logic as far as I’m concerned.”

    • Sonny says

      Just reading what the page has today. The other day, Joy was reading what Elizabeth wrote and Elizabeth asked how come everyone seem to be getting the respect including Joy but not Elizabeth. So your re-quote of Joy was going off a comment Elizabeth left. Joy is busy today. I was there when she typed it so I know she was not saying others disrespected Elizabeth but she was writing in reply to a comment that Elizabeth commented. You will not meet a more oddly pair as her and I. We may be opposites yet we do have an understanding that we agree to disagree and it works. I respect Joy. Joy respects me. Simple. If anyone felt disrespected from us then we apologize for not acknowledging such action(s). Joy is right in one of her comments. She and I saw the same fire yet I said let’s get the hell out of here and Joy is alive today because I made her leave earlier then the men. How come the fire management or leaders did not see the same dangers as me?

      • Joy A Collura says

        Made it. I am only here to reply here and off I go. I told Sonny (Tex) I am too busy today. Sonny (Tex) seems to think there is a concern that we are not supportive here on the comment wall and to a lady who has been above and beyond yet she feels we have been hurtful to her. Again, I have limited time online. We get a chuckle from Gary’s comments and had no idea Gary was making offensive remarks. We skim. We do not have the online time to read in detail yet I know we like his overall wit. Shit, I really cannot wonder if every word I type is going to be analysed and twisted. Sonny said I said you all disrespected Elizabeth when it was the statement she said she wanted the same respect shown to her as Joy and RTS. That was the comment I was going from—I told Sonny I’d come down and comment but please REST the horse shit you all who seem to think to write privately on it. I won’t feed the fuel. I am not interested in details of such but since Sonny publicly apologized I will here too. I am not mad. I am not angry. I at times get frustrated in regards to the Yarnell Hill fire when I have people show me things but not you all. Other than that I know I am here to help when its needed— Now, as for you all asking Sonny for my email. I have nothing in private I want to discuss with anyone. I have some heavy concerns health-wise that whoever has my personal email; has it already. Sonny aims for smoothing things quickly over and he told me I am on his email more then him and this is not facts. I am not on anywhere as people who know me know that. My focus has not been to emails or hikes. Yes, Michael Kodas wrote us both and Yes I did reply to him that we could not be available this weekend as he is in Yarnell—
        Other than that, many peoples’ emails still sit in my inbox unopened. I just have other stuff going on-
        I, Joy A Collura, apologize for any person who felt I offended them in ANY comments I posted.
        ok, see ya—

  8. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** HERE WE GO ( AGAIN )…

    >> On March 21, 2014 (TODAY) at 12:28 pm, Elizabeth said:
    >>
    >> Just so you know, I have NOTHING bad to say about Gary Cordes.
    >> (The only thing I tried to say was that it was Cordes who was needing
    >> help such that Musser reached out to DivsA to get some “resources”
    >> (which, at that time, only really included GM, because Blue Ridge was
    >> ALREADY working at the direction of Cordes, such that they were already
    >> a “resource” that Cordes had at his disposal and already engaged in the
    >> way he had directed). Please don’t anyone read into that. If I am being
    >> unclear, ask me….)

    Elizabeth…

    First and foremost ( and I have said this about 3 times already )… I don’t
    think there is anyone reading this ongoing discussion who doesn’t know
    that you have worked just as hard as anyone at trying to shed more light
    on the events of June 30, 2013… so AGAIN ( one more time with
    feeling )… thank you for that ( ongoing thanks ). Thank you. Thank you.

    Also… nothing that is going to follow can or should be considered me
    ‘hounding’ you, or ‘attacking’ you, or ‘trying to upset you’, or ‘treating you
    unfairly on this (public) forum’ or ‘not reading for comprehension’ or ‘not
    being a Christian’ or ‘picking on you’ or anything like that.

    Ok. Is that enough hand-holding for you?

    Feeling OK now?

    Good… now… can we get back to business?

    >> Elizabeth said…
    >> If I am being unclear, ask me.

    Okay. Here it comes.

    >> Elizabeth said…
    >> …it was Cordes who was needing help such that Musser reached
    >> out to DivsA to get some “resources”.

    That is certainly a good ‘guess’ that could be floated to support what little
    was said about Musser’s ‘request for resources’ in the ADOSH report
    ( page 18 )… but you are NOT phrasing it as such.

    You are stating this as if it was an ABSOLUTE FACT.

    What gives YOU the right to do that… at this point?

    What DIRECT PROOF do you have that SPGS1 Gary Cordes specifically
    requested OPS2 Paul Musser to “Call Granite Mountain and see if they
    can spare resources for ME”?

    >> Elizabeth also said…
    >> (which, at that time, only really included GM, because Blue Ridge was
    >> ALREADY working at the direction of Cordes, such that they were already
    >> a “resource” that Cordes had at his disposal and already engaged in the
    >> way he had directed).

    Again… that is presented by you as STATEMENT OF FACT.

    What EVIDENCE do you have to support this statement?

    There is nothing I can find in the PUBLIC record that supports this
    VERY specific assertion you are making.

    The only evidence in the public record actually just makes mincemeat
    of your assertion that Blue Ridge was either…

    A) Officially and specifically working directly for SPGS1 Gary Cordes at
    ANY time that day… and that this was Blue Ridge’s understanding.

    B) That Gary Cordes was not totally and fully aware that Blue Ridge was
    a ‘free resource’ and ALREADY evacuating the Shrine area before he even
    ‘met with OPS2 Paul Musser’ ( See SAIT Investigation notes and
    Blue Ridge unit logs ).

    So in order to believe your assertion… you are going to have to provide
    some hard evidence that directly CONTRADICTS other evidence
    already in the public record.

    We have, in fact, been here before… when you came out of nowhere
    and made the same ‘assertions of fact’ earlier in this Chapter V ( See below ).

    A lot of ‘feedback’ was supplied to you about this and requests were
    made for you to supply hard evidence to back up these assertions…

    …but you refused to cooperate with those requests.

    Please do so now.

  9. Robert the Second says

    Elizabeth,

    “Elizabeth on March 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm said:…. evidence that *I* have gathered does not suggest that Jesse Steed or Eric Marsh had a pattern of behaving in a needlessly and excessively risky manner. Marsh was actually commended by an outside fire official for GM’s and his work on the Station Fire.”

    Okay then. That means several things to me. Marsh and Steed and the GMHS may have very well done a ‘commendable’ job on the Station Fire. It also means to me that the ‘outside official,’ could have merely been politically correct and given them a commendable rating or merely a boilerplate version like all the other Crews that worked for him. It may have also come from a municipal/wildland fire supervisor that had little or no wildland experience. The ‘commendable’ rating MAY have resulted from Marsh and/or Steed schmoozing the ‘outside official’ and he just thought they were all ‘nice guys.’ And some overhead from some agencies won’t even go up on the firelines, but supervise from their command vehicles in California. I would have to see the rating to see where the ‘outside offical’ was from, what Agency, what position, and what region of the country.

    ‘Commendable ratings’ in-and-of themselves mean very little to experienced WFF supervisors.

    Now, square the above with the RTS post regarding the same Station Fire in California. “February 14, 2014 at 9:46 am RTS said…

    “Regarding Marsh and the ALLEGED GMHS bad decsions with good outcomes attitude, the two fires where two separate HS Supts commented on Marsh seemingly always wanting to ‘ONE-UP-YOU’, they were the 2009 Station Fire on the Angeles NF and the 2011 Gladiator Fire on the Prescott NF.
    The [California Senior HS] Supt. on the Station Fire said that Marsh and the GMHS was doing some fairly unconventional and unsafe tactics and GETTING AWAY WITH IT. He said they should have known better. He said he counseled Marsh on what he was doing, but it appeared that it did no good because he/they kept at it.”

    I even added some qualifying words in the brackets to strengthen and give further credibility to the statement.

    So then, given that Marsh and Steed and the GMHS Crew received a glowing ‘commendable rating’ from an ‘outside official’ on the Station Fire, that would mean that they performed their HS duties in a safe manner, and followed all the WFF ‘Rules.’ Right?

    This is a link for an NWCG Crew Performance Evaluation. The ‘outside official’ may have used this form or the Individualform. Either way, the point is the same. http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/contracting/crews/crew_performance.pdf
    You will notice the “USE OF SAFE PRACTICES” block. There are also blocks for ‘Supervisory Performances.’ Likewise, IF they received ‘commendable ratings’ here, then that means they allfollowed the WFF ‘Rules.’ Right?

    Therefore, I give a lot more credence to the Senior CA HS Superintendent’s recollection on the Station Fire and the other SW Senior HS Superintendent’s recollection of the GMHS actions reflecting their need, their.compulsion, their whatever to “ONE-UP” other HS Crews.

    Bad decisions with prior good outcomes ….

  10. Robert the Second says

    Elizabeth,

    “Elizabeth on March 21, 2014 at 8:23 am said:
    Gary, Bob, and RTS: Some of your most recent comments toward me have been needlessly and personally attacking, not to mention completely hurtful and upsetting (e.g. Gary calling me a “fool,” RTS mocking me, …. not needlessly insulting or attacking) …. but you have ignored my pleas.”

    Needlessly and personally attcking you? I think NOT. You make statements and I and others respond if/when we disagree or whatever, so therefore they are NOT needless. As far as ‘personally’ goes, I think NOT again. To the best of my knowledge, there have been no ad hominem attacks on you personally. I can’t help it if you got offended by my ‘Queen’ of the Hill or whatever comment awhile back. I have been attacking your ACTIONS, your WORDS, your LOGIC, and the like. Those are NOT personal attacks. And as far as these being “completely hurtful and upsetting” I’m afraid you’re engaging in drama and histrionics here. COMPLETELY? Really? You’re on your own on the hurtful and upsetting prongs because those are entirely YOUR reactions. Nobody caused those but you.

    ….

    Regarding RTS’ claim of Being Christian, you posted “…. , I expect RTS to be honest and kind in his response. Unless he was lying about being a Christian. (Love thy neighbor, RTS, I believe is on the Christian “to-do” list….).”

    Nice hypocrtical slam here. You do have a talent for that and logical fallacies as well. Honest? I have been completely HONEST in my posts and my replies to you. But that seems to be what offends you, my HONESTY. So, I am NOT lying about being a Christian. Why would I do that? Yes, I am a Christian and I’m very thankful for that. ‘Love thy neighbor’? Got it. None of this or any other blog has anything to do with that. So then, what’s that comment all about? It’s the words, the actions, the how, why, what, when, where that counts.

    “Elizabeth posted on March 21, 2014 at 9:47 am: …. I am trying to figure out what they were THINKING, whether there could have POSSIBLY been a reason why the black did not sit well with them. There is no way to figure that OUT without examining all possible reasons why the black might have been bad, right? …. it seems useful to try to think about why they might have rejected the idea of sitting in the black. ….” And “Elizabeth on March 21, 2014 at 10:21 am said: Where did I make a misleading suggestion that GM got scared down?” I think you pretty much insinuated that above.

    What were they thinking? I allege they were thinking about other times they had similar experiences and gotten away with it, and this situation is similar, so …. I’ll tell you what they were NOT thinking – they were NOT thinking about the WFF rules. And “whether there could have POSSIBLY been a reason why the black did not sit well with them?” Among other things, how about the influence of PFD Wildland Chief Willis’ comments at the fatality site news conference that “no wildland firefighter is satisfied sitting in the black, in a SZ watching the fire progress below them” [while they sit there and do nothing]. Thetre was ABSOLUTELY NO GOOD REASON, NONE, to leave their perfectly good SZ when they did. NONE! Get over it, the black was NOT bad. I allege they rejected the idea of sitting in the black because they BLATANTLY violated most of the Fire Orders and LCES. Moreover, they BLATANTLY failed to recognize,heed, or mitigate many of the Watch Outs. And also for the other above stated and quoted comments.

    “Elizabeth on March 21, 2014 at 10:21 am said: ….(Do you remember the time that I was falsely accused of calling Rory Collins a coward? I never said it – it wasn’t me.). That’s right it WASN’T you nor was it me. What I said was that he was acting in a COWARDLY manner speaking of his actions (not an ad hominem attack) when he unexpectadely abandoned the YHF.

    This is one of my favorites when you posted “Whereas RTS might be the guy that Eric Marsh fired a few years ago, ….” And just where may I ask did you come up with this gem? When did I allegedly work on the GMHS? And was I fired because I stressed the WFF Rules (10 and 18 and LCES). Was that why I was fired? Or was it because I spoke up (against the GMHS Groupthink) about their alleged recurrent pattern of ‘bad decsions with prior good outcomes’? Which one was it? Or was it both of them or maybe some other reasons I was fired from a Crew I never worked for?

    I am very thankful for all that you have done on this forum with all the documents and downloads and such that you have posted. Ongoing thanks for all that effort.

  11. Bob Powers says

    Elizabeth–I have at no time called you names. Am I upset with you YES.
    I said I believed you were a lawyer for the families to get your attention not to insult you.
    You were leading all of us in that direction based on not agreeing with us and continuing to push what I felt were justifying statements to exonerate what GM did. The black was not safe that’s why they moved. They had a lookout for there move thru the brush, Air Attack became there lookout. When they moved it was safe because the fire was not burning in there direction.
    When you continue to push those things at the seasoned fire fighters here and they tell you those statements are wrong. You may not know some of them or there names but you know me and I have answered you with all the expert knowledge I have.
    Marsh and Granit Mountain took risks known fact. Did they take a risk that day thinking they could make the move even though it was wrong, against all the rules, no LCES, no discussion with OPS or IC. Those things alone tell me yes they made the decision to again take a risk MAYBE HOPEING TO BECOME HEROES. They closed out the idea that it was dangerous and moved out. RTS says Superintendents told him about GM and he also knew what they did. It is one of the few things so far that has made science of what GM did that day. Take it or leave it your choice.

  12. Joy A. Collura says

    Logging out—now to head to camp—

    I came to the library and always seem to want to quickly do 1 thing—like naturally learning to detox the organs—and people start asking me to stuff over here in town on the fire of course but glad to see everyone is having a fresh start kick ass day online here (smiles) and is here to make sure the firefighting community is shown the RESPECT they deserve as well as so many are pleased the professional firefighters have posted here.

    I forgot to say THANK YOU before-

    thank you.

    we appreciate you.

  13. The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

    Elizabeth,

    I don’t need anyone to ‘vouch’ for me. I’m just a citizen making comments on a public forum. At least I’ve got the stones to put my thoughts, ideas, and theories, out there in a public forum, where they can, and have been vetted, by anyone who chooses to do so. Over the course of these chapters, I have been occasionally set straight, by those with either better memories, or a better grasp of the facts than me.

    With your criticism of those commenting anonymously on here, apparently you don’t sense the magnitude of the irony created, by you, yourself, in allowing (tens, hundreds, thousands, of?) people to contact you directly, and yet, they, themselves are requesting (or demanding) to remain anonymous, a request which you then, honor. Apparently, you have annointed yourself, as the ONLY ONE QUALIFIED to grant someone anonymity.

    Lately, you seem to be putting great stock in those ‘secret’ messages you’ve been receiving, even when those writers aren’t willing to allow their own thoughts, ideas, and theories to be publicly vetted (if even anonymously).

    Perhaps even more ironic, is that you haven’t grasped the possibility, that the reasons someone posting publicly may want to remain anonymous, ARE AS IMPORTANT as the reasons that those ‘secretly’ contacting you with their real names have, for also wanting to remain anonymous.

    I have appreciated your insight and wisdom in the past, and have agreed, especially, with your thoughts in the past regarding commentary needlessly going off on tangets, along with the impropriety of name-calling, but I find your current status as ‘gatekeeper of secrets and secret identities’ totally unproductive in the ‘public’ search for the truth.

    If your email buddies are so confident in their facts or theories, let them put them out here for public critique (if even anonymously).

    • Elizabeth says

      TTWRE, I am not sure if I am getting your point, so please correct me if I am going off in the wrong direction, but the people who are contacting me are NOT anonymous to me. Meaning, if somebody named “Fred Hernandez” contacts me from his official USFS e-mail account (which he hasn’t!), and he says to me “Elizabeth, I recall that some arrogant prick of a hotshot super actually tried to start shit against Marsh regarding the Station Fire because they had a beef with Marsh, who was kind of an asshole,” I would first figure out who Fred Hernandez was and whether he seemed kind of credible (e.g. not a jailed inmate who had been inside jail for the past 50 years), then I would figure out if the allegation if true was relevant (to ME, in my search for transparency), then, if it was likely to be relevant, I would figure out how to get more INFORMATION of the sort that I could verify (e.g. could I get first-hand interviews with guys who were ON the Station Fire, could I get documentation, etc.). Does that make sense?

      As to your comment that the people who feel most comfortable contacting me directly, let me point out the obvious :) : After the VICIOUS way that Bob, Gary, and now SR again are coming after me (“fool,” “Queen,” “clueless,” etc.), do you BLAME others for not wanting to post here? It SUCKS, it is totally upsetting, and I am pretty close to quitting and telling you all to go figure out your own mess. But I’ll wait to hear from RTS, Gary, and Bob first. :)

      As to SR’s comment about Joy, go research what Joy has to say about me. She sings my praises, because she KNOWS what I am doing behind the scenes in order to get transparency. To that end, why, exactly, is JOY allowed to cite her anonymous sources whom she keeps begging to come forward, why is RTS allowed to cite his own anonymous source, yet *I* get rafts of criticism when *I* do it? (I ask not because I would want you to criticize RTS or Joy the same way that you attack me, but, rather, because I would like to get the same decency that you give RTS and Joy.)

      One final thing, for SR: RTS *told* all of us here on InvestigativeMedia.com that he was a Christian. That was not a secret that I revealed. This goes back to my point, SR, about you failing to read things before you attack….

      • SR says

        “Given that RTS went so far as to e-mail me directly to pronounce that he is a Christian, I expect RTS to be honest and kind in his response. Unless he was lying about being a Christian.” This is Elizabeth speaking in her comment just below. Elizabeth is talking specifically about what RTS said in a private email to her. And, again, to me the idea that RTS disagreeing with Elizabeth somehow means he would be lying about being a Christian is just over the top. It is not attacking anyone to note that what is said in a private email about private beliefs should remain private.

        • Elizabeth says

          Read for comprehension:
          RTS announced on this website that he was a Christian. That was POSTED on this website. It wasn’t a SECRET, because RTS had SHARED it on this website.

          • SR says

            Did you comment, in the text I quoted, about what RTS said to you in a private email?

            Yes or no?

            Did you raise a question in that comment of yours about RTS possibly having lied about being a Christian?

            Yes or no?

            • SR says

              It seems Elizabeth can’t answer even those two very simple questions. Her communication style is her choice.

              In addition to trying to use a private email to slam RTS, let me also note that Elizabeth has STILL, after days of being asked, not given any indication of what types of sources she IS relying on in making the rather fanciful claim that GM may have not felt safe in the black, and the even more incredible claim that at the time they headed down it would have seemed reasonable, for a reasonable, prudent WFF, to do so via the bushwhack they chose.

              As Elizabeth has previously said she has sources only to backtrack, what I’m thinking is that there may not in fact be ANY sources she is relying on for these claims, therefore her refusal to give any answer.

              Why does it matter? Astro-turfing some idea that GM had to move from where they were, and that their bushwhack was a reasonable thing to do, would be a horrible precedent for safe practices for current and future crews. And, do no credit to GM and their survivors, either.

      • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

        Elizabeth,

        I have always tried to be repectful on this site, and I try my best to put forth a reasoned thought, or theory, into the commentary, but even with that, my thoughts on a subject have been corrected several times, which I actually relish in the pursuit of truth.

        You state in your comment above that I have ‘attacked you’ for wanting to use an anoymous source. I would ask you to reread my post, for there is NO attack anywhere within.

        The instigation for my commentary, was several recent comments (and even going back aways, to your demanding that WTKTT demand the identities and bonifides of all the anonymous posters here) by you, questioning the veracity of anonymous posters on this site.

        At the same time you were doing that, you repeatedly put forth facts, theories, or ideas, from your mulitple anonymous sources. You can’t have it BOTH WAYS.

        I would never have questioned your anonymous ‘sources’, if you had not FIRST questioned the veracity of anonymous posters here, which includes ME.

        You ask, why don’t I criticize Joy or RTS, or anyone else who uses anonymous sources, well it’s because THEY NEVER have criticized the people like me on this site, JUST for simply wanting to remain anonymous.

        Oh, and I know that you know the real names of the people who contact you, and I said as much in my comments, but you have also stated publicly that you will honor requests for anonymity from any who ask for it. I DON’T have a problem with that, UNTIL, you come along with, what is apparently a problem with the veracity of me (and others) posting publicly on this site, simply due to the desire to remain anonymous.

        For what it’s worth, I think a lot of peoples’ commentary that has upset you recently, is directly related to your repeated use of those ‘unrevealed sources’ giving you ‘unvetted information’ and then you running with it. Also, your repeated references to that ‘information’ which no one else out there has, and gives you ‘additional insight’, that, we poor souls, just don’t have, I’m sure has put a burr in some people’s butts. Perhaps if you backed -off on that stuff a bit, others would cool down a bit as well. If you get some info and you’d like to get it vetted, do it publicly. If the provider wants to push back against the vetting on here, they can certainly do it without revealing their name.

  14. Elizabeth says

    Gary, Bob, and RTS:
    Some of your most recent comments toward me have been needlessly and personally attacking, not to mention completely hurtful and upsetting (e.g. Gary calling me a “fool,” RTS mocking me, Bob falsely accusing me of working for some unnamed lawyer to fabricate a story). I have repeatedly asked you to please be civil (e.g. not needlessly insulting or attacking) when disagreeing with me, since I am only trying to help and since folks like JD and reporters have made clear that my input *IS* helping, but you have ignored my pleas.

    You obviously know how to be civil, since you never once have gone off on Joy, for example, despite Joy sometimes posting things that are just as non-expert as my posts, so I am trying to figure out what it will take to get you three to stop your needlessly insulting comments regarding me. Bob, Gary, and RTS, please tell me:
    1. Will your needlessly nasty comments toward me only stop if I shut up and stop posting my views, thoughts, or questions on this website?
    2. Will your needlessly insulting comments stop only if I limit my posting to things that agree with you or that strike YOU, personally, as most rational?

    Thank you in advance for being honest. Given that RTS went so far as to e-mail me directly to pronounce that he is a Christian, I expect RTS to be honest and kind in his response. Unless he was lying about being a Christian. (Love thy neighbor, RTS, I believe is on the Christian “to-do” list….)

    • J. Stout says

      Elizabeth:

      The message has been coming out loud and clear in your recent posts. Res ipsa loquitur. (“The thing speaks for itself.”)

      Out of all my favorite things about the WFF’s here, at the top of the list is this: They aren’t here because they hope to make money off this someday.

    • SR says

      There’s an disturbing pattern here of Elizabeth saying she feels attacked, and then going into attacks or insinuations herself. RTS may have been lying about being a Christian? WTF?

      Unless someone emails you something that is newsworthy, I don’t want here about anyone’s private emails to you, unless they specifically told you it was ok to share the contents of the email. This is a basic standard of decency.

      Elizabeth, you are commenting in a public comment forum. When you say things, repeatedly, that are clueless, it is not attacking you for people to note this. When you say that you have “sources” for things, and then backtrack, people are entitled to note the backtrack. When you announce that YOU have determined that at 4:04 it was reasonable for GM to have headed down into the bowl, people are entitled to ask what possible sources you have for such a view. When you repeatedly suggest that GM wouldn’t have been safe in the black and needed to descend for that reason, again with no credible sources of any sort to back up that very strange view, people are entitled to note that what you are saying doesn’t hold water. A college education and a law degree don’t magically insulate you, or anyone else, from people noting when comments are made that are not factual.

      As far as your trying to drag Joy into your issues, again, WTF? You’ve created, with your persistent posts advancing whatever you are trying to advance, a number of comments noting that you’re off in a number of things you’re saying. The fact that other people haven’t generated similar responses should be valuable information for you to chew on.

        • SR says

          You are saying whimsical, fanciful things. And you are not id’ing any attributes of any of these sources that you sometimes claim to have, only to backtrack in some cases when asked to back what you say up.

          For instance, I have asked you several times to indicate where you got the idea that GM’s bushwhack looked reasonable at the time they started, given the alternative of staying in good black. I seriously doubt this is from, say, a hs superintendent somewhere, because it’s not credible. So, who in general terms is claiming that at that time, with the option of sitting tight in good black, the bushwhack looked like a reasonable call? Park ranger, someone sitting in an office somewhere, journalist? Just that kind of info. RTS has given enough info to let us know that his sources are what he says they are, and in a position to speak credibly. You have not.

      • Elizabeth says

        Also, where did I state that GM wouldn’t have been safe in the black? I am trying to figure out what they were THINKING, whether there could have POSSIBLY been a reason why the black did not sit well with them. There is no way to figure that OUT without examining all possible reasons why the black might have been bad, right? Unless we assume that GM *WANTED* to be fried to a crisp, it seems useful to try to think about why they might have rejected the idea of sitting in the black. If I am missing something on that, please tell me.

        • SR says

          That’s what some folk would call a false dichotomy. No one thinks malice was involved in terms of GM wanting to have a serious accident. You have had people explain to you many times that GM didn’t have reason to be concerned about staying put. GM’s own communications reflect that they shared this view, themselves.

          GM’s assessment that they were in good black, the assessment of others to the same effect that day, and what we now know with hindsight are all congruent.

          Raising fanciful ideas that maybe Marsh looked around and decided all of a sudden that the very large amount of black couldn’t work, but announced that to no one, is misleading and a waste of time.

          Maybe Marsh saw a prairie dog up there and thought his crew would be exposed to the plague? It gets ridiculous. Particularly when you refuse to listen to the multiple explanations given by multiple highly qualified and experienced commenters, who give you the same feedback that you then ignore only to make the same misleading suggestion that GM got scared down.

          • Elizabeth says

            Where did I make a misleading suggestion that GM got scared down? I am pretty sure that I never did, but, if you can point me to it, I will certainly try to rectify it.
            (Do you remember the time that I was falsely accused of calling Rory Collins a coward? I never said it – it wasn’t me.)

            • SR says

              You are killing me here. You made multiple statements about how GM would have faced superheated gases, catastrophic smoke, and dangerous islands of green if they had stayed in the black. The only problem is, those statements make no sense. And, you have still refused to provide any indication of where on earth you got the idea that these were real issues GM was facing.

              Nor have you provided any response to multiple requests to back up your assertion that it was reasonable for GM to make their bushwhack at the time they made it.

              I seriously doubt you have any support for either of these propositions, at this point.

      • Joy A. Collura says

        Just for the record on “rite to state anonymity” comment made by Elizabeth today and how people respect all but Elizabeth’s comments…

        Both/all librarians in my town and surrounding areas and many locals will share to you that when people have come to me and Elizabeth was not the only displeased person to see that I jotted on those links every person in 2013 so that OSHA, SAIR, firefighters, smokejumpers, homeowners, my family, my friends, the off the grid folks, the communities, the interested folks in this fire could see EVERY piece of information as it unfolded may it be “in person”, email or phone but NEVER did I get a call or email from Willis saying “why are you posting what I write you on that link?” (in fact Willis had educated me a lot in this whole process along with all I hiked with- it is a journey for all of us so we either stick with it and together because it will take the togetherness to get the end results—it will not take one person) YET I have spoke on the phone awhile back and received emails from Elizabeth her concerns and requests to please do not let people know we email/the contents due to her profession/respect thing and I replied if one is not willing to let me place publicly on that link what is being shown to us then don’t communicate to us because I do not need personally “shhh, whispers, off the record, please due to my profession respect me and do not write about what we talk about on a public forum” and that was NOT said to be taken offensively by me but where I stand in this journey of the people INVESTIGATING it but I for sure have EMPATHY for the disabled/the elders/the community that was indeed affected by that weekend and I can keep their showing me photos and videos as thank you I saw it but NOW give it to the PUBLIC so this fire can be properly assessed…PLUS alot of people are not yet ready to talk about that weekend publicly. They are NOT firefighters and all I want out of this for ME is that 19 men who do not have a voice knew there was folks out here that will be their voice for them and EXHAUST all areas to find the purity in this all. I have much in the body severely in danger and I am doing my hikes and medical massages and eating the right way to knock the crap out of it but I am not at any time going to spend 2014 when I cut off my mifi to wonder who I have to hold a secret or information when my online time is so limited plus I am all for GOOD ENERGY from the fire not the horse shit unfolding-

        We need to make sure the Wildland and Firefighting community are shown the respect they deserve and that programs are enhanced by bringing out the purity of it vs. the modern world of claims & suits. We need to show these men who died, the other fallen ones and the current community as well as the future generation this is just a stepping stone to a better tomorrow not the crap I skimmed today-

        I can tell you the people are not anonymous in a sense- ANYONE can go to Yarnell and speak to the SAME people that came to me and ask them their accounts. Just go SPEND YOUR TIME AND YOUR ENERGY FREELY to these people—that community.

        What they show me I tell you here as I tell them DOES NOT HOLD MUCH GROUND in my book UNTIL they SHOW THE PUBLIC yet again though since the fire you see EVERY step of the way of communication and in doing that I hope it cuts out the people who want to write, talk or whatever to me of their accounts . I want the Yarnell community to know HOW IMPORTANT their footage is to you all. That is it. I have NO shadiness or anonymity holding here. Sonny told me someone emailed me here from the comment wall and I never received it. Yet I will read any email but if its based on the crap I read today you can bet I am not going to reply privately.

        Now, I will not be redundant but I wanted to clarify my anonymity on a homeowner is because shit, I cannot control who is coming my way. Have you seen my link as you state you do- then you know I have not seeked out anyone but in this forumn and Bill Gabbert’s I mentined Y O U because I know a select few do read this comment wall and I do feel it is IMPORTANT to explain the fire, explain the vehicles and aircrafts, explain what is a hotshot vs a smokejumper and firefighter and Sonny seems to love Gary’s view but this is what HERE is about—a place for all of us to do our best for the 19. Someone recently received something from us and said you should market it. All the people we sent that item to was a deep respect and if you got one or 2 then you KNOW we deeply respected what you are and have done for this fire and for all your assistance.

        I said enough. I like EVERYONE here. Even the ones who challenge our accounts, even the ones that accept they have their views professionally and personally that does not match mine. I love everyone to be FREE thinkers and to live and let live—

        have a kick ass day you all.

        • Elizabeth says

          Thank you, Joy, for the support. That means a lot, to have you publicly support me. I appreciate it. You have always been supportive of me, and it is good to know that I was one of the special ones to whom you sent things. Keep it “pure”….
          And I am glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks some of this is just horse shit that distracts from the bigger goals.
          Anyone can e-mail Gary Cordes, or Darrell Willis, or whomever they want and ASK the questions if they do not believe me.

    • Joy A Collura says

      Man, I love how well and energetic I feel when my medical massager tries to keep me going— Divine. It’s one of those thing you want for others to experience yet you want her to yourself but if you google Dee Sickles from Flagstaff, Arizona. I am sure you will be glad you did. I only had 2.5 hours sleep and I will get that sleep but I am stoked today—I know when my medical massager peaked over my shoulder and saw me skimming the comments here and she said are you reading about “fire guy” Gary Cordes there? and I said it is a collaboration of comments I am skimming about and she said I have known Gary for 1/2 a decade and whoever is writing negative about him have him pegged wrong. She asked why are people writing such about a fine human like him? I said I did not know I was peaking at other areas not on Gary yet she seem to think to detail him so if anyone wants to know about him; email or call her. I am not on email area to give you contact info. but google her name. Now, that lady worked her butt off to try and assist gtting my bodyworkable so I will see hr aain real soon but after 3:33am she had to say enough and she still had a few areas like my left hand and sorts but I had so much detailed hour after hour needed work done and I even did my in-between homework/exercise and I was still a mess.

      Hey, I am all for anonymity—someone thinks I am not but all I am saying is in a nice world it would be great if we all had the freedom and no fear to just be real, raw & genuine with our names tied to our voice and actions yet “welcome to the modern world”…

      After seeing the photos/videos I have and my word is solid that I won’t name drop yet for my peace of mind it had been so important for me to encourage all to share their accounts but people have to share in their time and ways and so I have now realized I am not going to keep saying Y O U….

      I know, shew. It did give us information in doing it yet now its time to educate the folks that no matter how simple they think their photos were between 1-7pm on June 30th, 2013—just share with someone who is seeking the purity if this tragedy and leave it there as simple as that.

      Now for Gary Olsen who Tex (Sonny) seems to always light up or “right on” when he writes—I get the final trgedy that Steed and Marsh laid amongst the other men in the deployment area and people say the leader “f’d up” but until we are no longer blinded by tight ties of narratives and some willing and unwilling deceptions and we see the entire 12-9pm the purity of the ground to aerial photos and videos and hear many accounts of that weekend then and only then will I stand on he wagon with you and Sonny on some areas—Until we see how the leaders went from point a to b and the mystery will be revealed and so in the end all this past few days of comments made on how all of us are doing our healing to this tragedy—

      THIS IS A NEW DAY!

      fresh start.

      Let’s give EVERYONE the respect and freedom to do this without all this whatever it is I am reading WE all are in this together. WE are all the voice these 19 men no longer have—

      Keep the faith!

      And have a real swell day with loads of smiles.

      signing out-
      walking back to camp now-

      • Elizabeth says

        Right back atcha, Joy. Just so you know, I have NOTHING bad to say about Gary Cordes. (The only thing I tried to say was that it was Cordes who was needing help such that Musser reached out to DivsA to get some “resources” (which, at that time, only really included GM, because Blue Ridge was ALREADY working at the direction of Cordes, such that they were already a “resource” that Cordes had at his disposal and already engaged in the way he had directed). Please don’t anyone read into that. If I am being unclear, ask me….)

  15. Robert the Second says

    Elizabeth,

    Do you like drama, read a lot of fiction, and watch a lot of movies? It sure seems like it to me based on your postings lately, especially today.

    Here’s one of my favorites, actually posted TWICE by you in the very same day. Just amazing. “If I buy into RTS’s theory, then I have to buy into the fact that RTS and his friends deliberately did NOTHING about something that they recognized as a life-threatening problem (“we could see this coming” or something like that is what RTS says his friends said).”
    “The fact that men in RTS’s position would stand by without sending an E-MAIL, anonymous note, or anything to Prescott Human Resources, to ADOSH, or to ANYONE (which would then lead to a paper trail that I could sniff out) is something I refuse to fathom.
    Period.”

    “Deliberately did NOTHING” ? Are you kidding me? “The fact that men in RTS’s position would stand by …” Nope, not buying the guilt trip attempt here, twice even. So then, in typical lawyer fashion, Marsh was a ‘VICTIM’ of his peers, those that tried for years to fix matters to no avail? So, then it’s OUR fault that Marsh was responsible for killing his Crew. No, I don’t think so. He did it all alone. He wouldn’t listen to his peers, his friends, experienced WFF supervisors that helped to train his men. Men that knew or should have known better. Marsh did it all by himself because he felt his way was the right way, in spite of years and years of chastining and advice and counsel and Lessons Learned and tried-and-trued WFF Rules.

    To refresh what appears to be a selective memory, it all statrted with this RTS post regarding Bob Powers’ post about a ‘walk-thru’ of the YHF fatality site. RTS posted “Superintendents made comments such as this: ‘This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes. We saw this coming for years.” common knowledge that Eric Marsh made well known “prior bad decisions with good outcomes” we all knew it was going to happen.”

    • Robert the Second says

      Elizabeth,

      And one more gem “Whereas RTS might be the guy that Eric Marsh fired a few years ago,” Yup, that’s me alright, you got me, you found me out. Good job. ……. Are you kidding me?

  16. Gary Olson says

    Elizabeth, I don’t have a problem with what Mike said. In fact, if you go back a little further you will see I asked a very similar rhetorical question. My question was rhetorical because I know something neither Mike nor WTKTT knows, in spite of their common sense and logic. And it is something I already said, but I guess you missed it, so I will say it again.

    FYI WTKTT – your example of the way construction crews worked was informative (although you are ruining my narrative that you work in a dimly lit room for a federal alphabet soup agency), but it doesn’t apply to the quasi-military world of wildland firefighters. I also enjoyed reading the entertaining and colorful article by the British Telegraph writer, thanks for the link. Entertaining and colorful, but just like the Outdoor article several months ago…devoid of any real facts or useful information.

    And FYI to everyone else out there in cyber space, I really like reading that hotshots are the equivalent of Navy SEALS or Special Forces, because it makes me feel powerful about what I used to be, but it’s not true. Hotshots are the equivalent of the Marines, if there is even such a thing as an equivalent at all. After all…everyone expects some Marines to die in a pitched battle, but no one expects some hotshots to die on a wildfire, no matter how big or bad it is.

    Hotshots are grunts and ground pounders (and damn proud of it), the best of the best…but that’s it. As I have written in the past, if anyone is the equivalent of SEALS and Special Forces to the fire service in America, it’s the smokejumpers. Although I would rather be FUCKED by a smokejumper (male) than be one (just kidding, it’s that hotshot/smokejumper rivalry thing again, very healthy) because there are very few of them, they generally have more experience and training and they generally go out on small, select, specialized assignments, whereas the hotshots go fight the BIG ones.

    Back on point. In the world of the Granite Mountain Hotshots in particular, there was only ONE person (in the case of the U.S Forest Service, there are several them, but not in the case of the Prescott Fire Department) who could have made a correction in Eric Marsh’s behavior and tactics.

    That was Darrell Willis. That is because there was nobody above Darrell Willis except for Chief Fraijo…and well, as I have said in the past, Chief Fraijo was probably a really squared away structural FIREMAN who was a good manager, but he was completely CLUELESS about wildland firefighters and hotshots in particular, and he should never have had wildland firefighters under his command. Period.

    Sidebar WTKTT – I think Darrell Willis was the CHIEF of the Prescott Fire Department when the Granite Mountain Hotshots were created.

    In the case of the U.S. Forest Service, there is NOT ONLY the District Fire Management Officer (or District AFMO) who supervises the hotshot crew boss, but there is the Forest Fire Staff Officer for their home forest, (who is a Fire God) who carefully reviews each and every fire performance record for the crew in general and the crew boss in particular, but there is the Regional Fire Operations Center Coordinator, (the Chief Fire Gods Chief Assistant – SWCC in the case of Arizona and New Mexico) and the Regional Fire Staff Officer (The Chief Fire God).

    AND that is before you get to the National Interagency Fire Coordination Center, and all of the other fire gods at the national level. Who were so far up in the Ivory Tower that I don’t even know what their titles were…Supreme Fire Gods I guess.

    That is a far cry from the Mayor of Prescott…the CITY MANAGER, or the City Council, clueless…clueless…and even more clueless.

    I’m sure it’s the same for NPS, BLM or BIA (other federal) hotshot crews as it is with the USFS, but I can only speak about U.S. Forest Service hotshot crews.

    A U.S. Forest Service hotshot crew boss would not survive being sent home with a strongly worded note from fire supervisors – at least a second time. Although keep in mind (if you search back far enough through enough of my ramblings, and in spite of what WFF thinks, there is a point to all of my stories if you read far enough) that I survived being sent home with my crew from the Scott Fire with a sternly worded note from the Incident Commander for insubordination on a specially chartered jet, chartered just to fly us home to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Tucson, Arizona. Expensive. And there was one less hotshot crew on the line the next morning. Bad.

    But…being sent home from a fire with a bad performance rating or a note…is the least of a U.S Forest Service hotshot crew bosses worry when it comes to keeping his or her job. As I have said in the past…the details of everything I did on a fire made it home before I did…all of these fire managers, well…they all know one another, and they all go way back…and they all they love to bullshit with each other about everything that happens on every fire. There are no secrets. At least from each other, from the general public…yes, it’s almost all a secret.

    BUT…I kept my job only after there was an exhaustive investigation by those fire gods I previously named, interviewing every supervisor and manager who was anywhere near me or the crew, or even close to the incident in question, and they concluded the Scott Fire Boss (Incident Commander) was wrong. But my point is this, had I not been right, and the Incident Commander not been wrong…I would have been immediately removed as a hotshot crew boss, and I would have found myself hosing out outhouses even sooner than I otherwise did due to accumulated smoke inhalation damage to my lungs and larynx.

    There were no turn-down protocols in my day, just a “do it now…like I said or else”, IF…that was the personality of the fire manager in question. Which fortunately, was very rare. I only saw it one time (on the Scott Fire) during my ten years as a hotshot, seven years as hotshot crew boss.

    That is one of the reasons why the Granite Mountain Hotshots were a blueprint for disaster, just as John Dougherty reported in his very first article.

    Oh…and one more thing, just in case anybody hasn’t picked up on this. When it comes to being a hotshot or a hotshot crew boss, there isn’t anyone in the country who can tell me anything (about most other fire stuff yes, I only know about being a hotshot). As I told Bob Powers in the past, there are those who did it longer, but nobody in the country did it better. And I did it all, and saw it all…at least once. And I have the hotshot memorabilia (Happy Jack Hotshots, you know, the crew I ran starting at age 23, and the Santa Fe Hotshots, you know, the crew I FOUNDED) to prove it. Hubris…yes, I have that too.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Gary Olson on March 20, 2014 at 9:22 pm said:

      >> Gary Olson said…
      >> FYI WTKTT – your example of the way construction crews
      >> worked was informative (although you are ruining my
      >> narrative that you work in a dimly lit room for a federal
      >> alphabet soup agency), but it doesn’t apply to the
      >> quasi-military world of wildland firefighters.

      You’re right. It really doesn’t. When my crew boss was once
      insisting I climb a 4 story scaffold and haul up some windows
      without all the diagonal bracing in place yet… all I said was…
      “Fuck you”.

      When he then said “You’re fired…” I said…

      “I don’t think so, asshole”… and I gestured over toward the
      contractor’s trailer, in case he wanted to go over there and
      talk about what just happened.

      That fixed that problem right then and there.

      No need for an ‘alternative suggestion’, and certainly no
      memos needed.

      So yea… not the same… but I believe the only point I was
      *trying* to make is that if there is NOT an EASY way for WFF
      employees to officially ‘refuse to work’ with people that are
      known to be a risk to themselves and others… there SHOULD
      be ( without having to lose a career that you love ).

      >> Gary also wrote…
      >> I also enjoyed reading the entertaining and colorful article by
      >> the British Telegraph writer, thanks for the link. Entertaining
      >> and colorful, but just like the Outdoor article several months
      >> ago…devoid of any real facts or useful information.

      Agreed. It was just ‘fluff’… but I DO think the quotes from the
      original Prescott Wildland Division Chief ( Duane Steinbrink )
      about “what made this crew different” and his verification that
      from day one that the “groupthink” of that outfit was “we have to
      be better and out-perform everyone else we work with” was
      totally relevant… especially given RTS’s recent comments
      and findings.

      I still believe it all ties together into what happened on
      June 30, 2013, and anyone who doesn’t think so is just
      kidding themselves, at this point.

      You also make it crystal clear that no matter what ‘complaints’
      may or may not have been registered about this group in the
      months/years preceding the Yarnell incident ( if any )… this
      GM group was ‘outside the norm’ and ‘insulated’ from the
      ‘normal (federal) channels’.

      You are absolutely right about ‘the buck stopping’ in
      an ‘abnormal’ place for THIS (one) crew.

      Even if the emails were flooding into Chief Fraijo’s and Darrell
      Willis’ mailbox(es)… if they didn’t give a shit… then nothing
      happened.

      Lessons to be learned?
      You damn betcha.

    • Gary Olson says

      Although I guess my little joke in my post about hotshot and smokejumpers rivalry was homophobic. I apologize for that joke. See…ex hotshots can be taught…even burned-out ones.

      • Gary Olson says

        Let me try one more time, there is no “guess” about it. Please accept my apology for my crude and completely inappropriate attempt at humor in my comment above regarding hotshot and smokejumper rivalry. WFF is right, I have said to much and I wish I had the willpower to quit commenting on this blog or thread or whatever it is. The good news is that all of us now have a forum to express our opinions. The bad news is that all of us now have a forum to express our opinions.

  17. Elizabeth says

    Bob, I have no idea why you are lashing out at me, but you seem to have missed both *my* post and MIke’s prior post. I will re-post mine for you, in response to your inexplicable vitriol toward me:

    Bob, I have avoided saying this, but it seems like you are going to press the point, so here we go…. I am partially echoing what Mike has already said (but everyone ignored), when I make the obvious and grave point as follows:
    If I buy into RTS’s theory, then I have to buy into the fact that RTS and his friends deliberately did NOTHING about something that they recognized as a life-threatening problem (“we could see this coming” or something like that is what RTS says his friends said).
    The fact that men in RTS’s position would stand by without sending an E-MAIL, anonymous note, or anything to Prescott Human Resources, to ADOSH, or to ANYONE (which would then lead to a paper trail that I could sniff out) is something I refuse to fathom.
    Period.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Elizabeth post on March 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Elizabeth… you seem to have answered your own first
      sentence query with your own last sentence.

      The reason people are getting upset with you is that there
      are, apparently, all kinds of things you ‘refuse to fathom’.

      That’s ok, counselor.

      You have decided to play your own game and I, for one,
      still wish you luck.

      The truth will be the truth… no matter where it comes from.

  18. Bob Powers says

    Firs Elizabeth You have said earlier that you were relying on 3 highly qualified people including me and a couple of others on the Email questions you have mailed out so what is it thousands or 6 or 10???
    All of those that I listed I can state are WFF based on there statements, you might not know there real names but I know the quality of there information.
    RTS is a quality Fire Fighter Worked on Hot Shot Crews Most of his Life from his first job on my crew in 1973 so 40 plus years and he never worked for Marsh but was on fires that marsh was on and knew Marsh as he worked up to and took over GM. So he knows Marsh and about Marsh end of statement.

    I have com to the conclusion that you are working for one of the Lawyers for the families and trying to prove that the State and the Overhead caused the death of Granit Mountain 19. You have been doing this and force feeding us with all of these assumptions that Marsh and Granit Mountain did every thing right and if you get enough of us to agree then it is part of your case good luck with that. As you can tell by now you do not need to send me any more Email Questions.
    When you do not want to listen to the facts there is not much any of us can say.
    In closing Thank God you are not a fire fighter.

    • J. Stout says

      Am glad you spoke up about this, Mr. Powers. Because she is playing her own game here. And it’s the WFF’s who are getting played.

  19. Sonny says

    the experienced firefighter Bob Powers correctly stated those men would have done the right thing staying in the burned out zone they were in.

    In fact, one of Marsh’s communications stated “we are safe in the black, can you get the BR…”

    we just seek the missing links- the mystery remains as to why he changed his mind.

    • Bob Powers says

      And we are in search of that mystery as we have been. A combination of several things were at work in this tragedy.

    • Elizabeth says

      Sonny, you are claiming that one of Marsh’s communications was “can you get the BR…”
      What does that claim mean? What does “can you get the BR” mean, Sonny?
      Thank you!

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Elizabeth…

        Fer cryin’ out loud… please check your own
        (supposedly) voluminous data.

        Sonny is (obviously) referring to the ADOSH report.

        Page 18 of ADOSH report…

        Shortly thereafter ( circa 1550 ), Operations Section
        Chief 2 Musser radioed GMIHC and asked if they could
        spare resources to assist in Yarnell. Either Marsh or
        GMIHC Captain Steed responded that they were
        committed to the black and that Musser should contact
        BRIHC working in the valley (during his interview Musser
        stated that he wasn’t sure who he was talking with).

  20. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** GARY CORDES IS THE ONE WHO PERSONALLY
    ** REQUESTED THAT GRANITE MOUNTAIN LEAVE
    ** THE ‘SAFE BLACK’ ON JUNE 30, 2013

    >> Elizabeth on March 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm said:
    >>
    >> Just thinking out loud, here, if you are suggesting that they should have
    >> gone all the way to Congress, well, it is obvious to me why going to
    >> Congress was not appealing, because it would mean they were effectively
    >> out of the workday. Meaning, they could have done NOTHING to help Gary
    >> Cordes – who had ASKED for their help – and the communities if they had
    >> gone over the ridge.
    >>
    >> WTKTT then asked…
    >>
    >> Elizabeth… you just said…
    >>
    >> “they (GM) could have done NOTHING to help Gary Cordes –
    >> who had ASKED for their help.”
    >>
    >> What evidence exists for you to keep making such a statement
    >> that it was Gary Cordes himself who ‘asked’ GM to leave the safe black?
    >>
    >> I want YOU to provide some indication that you are basing your statement
    >> about Cordes on evidence… and not speculation.
    >>
    >> Can you do that for me (us)?
    >>
    >> It’s important.
    >>
    >> Elizabeth on March 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm said:
    >>
    >> If all you wanted was a “yes” or a “no,” the answer
    >> is “of COURSE” (e.g. “yes”) I have a source. I actually have THREE.

    Elizabeth…

    Thank you… and ignore my response to Bob Powers below which was
    written BEFORE I saw this statement from you.

    So to be CLEAR…

    ( You only have to answer again if the answer is NO )…

    You DO have THREE sources of real evidence that establish, without
    a shadow of a doubt, that SPGS1 Gary Cordes, who just received the
    Arizona Wildfire Association’s Firefighter of the Year award for his ‘heroic’
    actions on the Yarnell hill fire…

    …is, in fact, the one who personally asked Granite Mountain to leave
    the ‘safe black’ that afternoon and embark on the journey that led
    to their deaths.

    The obvious NEXT questions ( which you said I was free to ask ) are…

    1) WHEN did this request take place?
    2) Did Cordes’ request come BEFORE or AFTER similar request from Musser?
    2) HOW did the request take place? Direct radio call from Cordes to Marsh?
    3) WHAT did Marsh and/or Steed then say to Cordes?

    Did Marsh and/or Steed accept Cordes’ request right away instead of telling
    him they were ‘committed to the black’ as they did when Musser made a similar
    request in the same timeframe?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      >> Elizabeth on March 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm said:
      >>
      >> WTKTT, as I explained elsewhere, Cordes and Musser were
      >> talking, Cordes indicated that he needed “resources” to
      >> “bump” to his area in light of the fire now moving due east
      >> toward his area (as opposed to moving NORTH toward the
      >> territory that Willis was working on), apparently Cordes’s radio
      >> was not transmitting well, so Musser reached out to DivsA
      >> on Cordes’s behalf.

      Are you f**king kidding me?

      NOW you are BACKING OFF your carte-blanche statement
      that it was Gary Cordes who personally requested their help?

      For crying out loud…. what is the matter with you?

      After the exchange we just went through… where I made
      every attempt to carefully get you to VERIFY this DIRECT
      statement of YOURS…

      >> Elizabeth said…
      >> “they (GM) could have done NOTHING to help Gary Cordes –
      >> who had ASKED for their help.”

      …and you did that… saying you have THREE SOURCES…

      …NOW you are ‘backtracking’ and saying it’s really just
      something you THINK happened?

      What is WRONG with you?

      I will make one more attempt to clear up this VERY
      important point ( and apologies to any family members
      who might be reading this )…

      Do you have DIRECT, unequivocal evidence that Gary
      Cordes either asked Granite Mountain directly to leave
      the safe black… or that he directly asked OPS2 Paul
      Musser to make that request on his behalf?

      Please be careful what you say next.

      • Elizabeth says

        WTKTT: I have repeatedly communicated in my prior posts that it was made clear to DivsA that Cordes was looking for help.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          …and we still have no idea what you are really
          basing your public statements on.

          That’s ok, counselor.

          You are playing your own game here and obviously
          no one is able to tell you anything.

          Good luck with whatever it is you are doing.

  21. Bob Powers says

    First let me say there are several highly qualified wild land fire fighters on the discussion as well as myself none have questioned what I have had to say science this discussion but many non fire people here have occasionally questioned myself and others, I can’t speak for the others.

    You have all read my forest service carrier and the jobs I was in.
    So the following has to do with my actual fire experience which I rely on heavily when responding to question’s or remarks that don’t fit my knowledge of wild land fire.

    I fought Fire for 33 years. I also wrote burn plans and managed controlled burns of all types.
    I fought fires in every State in the west plus Minnesota and Florida.
    in 33 years I was on close to 1000 fires from Fire Fighter to type 2 IC and Air Attack On every kind of fire you can think of. Grass to Timber from 1 tree to 400,000 ac. I understand Wild Land Fire Fighting Safety In those 33 years I can not count the number of people I trained in Safety and different facets of fire fighting.
    I also planed and executed fall and spring burn plans for fuel reduction. On 3 different Forests. In Timber clear cuts to brush reduction Pinion Juniper to sage brush.
    Those are my collage of wild land fire fighting credentials. I know others here like RTS, SR, Gary, Eric, TTARE, Have a lot if not more than me in background I know by the way they speak. So when we all agree with something or someone it is coming from really reliable people with a heavy background in FIRE. What we are saying come from years and years of experience. WE are not fighting amongst our self’s so we must be stating the facts.
    If you do not want to agree with our answers then there’s not much else we can tell you. I think that WTKTT has long science came to that conclusion and he has done a lot of studying and supportive input to our statements.

    • Elizabeth says

      “WE are not fighting amongst our self’s so we must be stating the facts.”
      Bob, with all due respect, you are only FIVE guys, and there are hundreds or thousands of emergency or wildfire professionals who are reading this website and NOT agreeing with you.
      The fact that five guys, four of whom are totally anonymous, agree on something does not mean that that “something” is fact, at least according to any investigation standards with which I am familiar. The fact that not more guys are agreeing with you here is telling to me.
      Do you want the people who disagree with you to just shut up and go away? Or what would you like us to do?

      • Gary Olson says

        We may only be “five” guys or whatever the number actually is, but we are the current or ex fire guys participating in this discussion. I can’t be responsible for what “other” current or ex fire guys may be emailing you on the side, but if they are not putting it here, whatever they have to say doesn’t mean anything.

        At least WFF put his objections down in writing on this thread. I do have to respect that, so I should not have said he is NOBODY, I should have saved that title for whoever is carrying on sidebar discussions with you.

        • Elizabeth says

          The people who contact me have all used their REAL names, Gary, which means that I can vet them.
          Whereas RTS might be the guy that Eric Marsh fired a few years ago, and SR might be the person who had to leave GM involuntarily due to falling off the wagon.
          :)

          • Gary Olson says

            I have told you this once already…but I will tell you again. Bob Powers’ fire credentials are above reproach…period. And he has vouched for RTS many times. RTS is still close to the ground…the hotshot crew bosses who walked through of the Yarnell Hill Fire.

            That is why I have to believe RTS, and had to finally accept the narrative that I have been fighting. Fighting more than you have I might add, while I tried to put myself in Eric Marsh’s position on the Yarnell Hill Fire, but I finally had to let it go.

            Please keep in mind, I was hearing Eric Marsh was a top-notch hotshot crew boss from Darrell Willis and others at his level, those are the few people I know now in fire. Primarily men that used to be hotshot crew bosses who now run the organizations. I don’t know anybody even close to the ground anymore.

            • Elizabeth says

              Gary, you keep missing my point: Maybe I *will* ultimately rule out every other rational possibility, or maybe I will stumble on a big pile of written statements (or do my own interviews) of the anonymous guys RTS is quoting. But, until then, I have to keep investigating. My goal is closure and every possible lesson learned. That means I keep going until I am done. I have made clear that maybe RTS is 100% correct, but I am not willing to put my name to that position without first continuing my investigation, because the non-anonymous data that I have to date is not consistent with RTS’s position. That does not mean that he is WRONG – that means that I keep looking until I can’t.
              I still have no idea why you are attacking me, Gary. What did I do to you, personally?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I would expect any of us to question each other when
      assertions are made… and we all have, from time to time.

      No one is ‘clean’ in this (public) discussion. We have ALL
      ( from time to time ) thought we saw things in the evidence
      that supported a ‘theory’ or two…

      …but Mr. Powers… I assure you… if it was even YOU, at this
      point, who was stating that SPGS1 Gary Cordes was the
      one who personally requested GM to leave the safe black
      that day…

      …I would be asking YOU to back that up.

      There are a LOT of things about this incident that amount to
      just ‘details’ and will be argued about for years to come…

      …but for someone to come on here stating that they know
      exactly WHO made the ACTUAL request for GM to leave
      the safe black… but not give any indication if there is even
      any evidence to support such a ‘theory’… that is something
      else altogether.

      A statement like that goes to the fundamental reasons for
      the tragedy itself… and is not to be ‘taken’ or ‘accepted’ lightly.

      All I want is for Elizabeth to say whether she has any evidence
      to back up a statement like that… or whether she is speculating.

      That’s all.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Yes… I saw that just AFTER I wrote the response
          to Mr. Powers above… so please IGNORE my
          entire comment above.

          I DO appreciate your response… and
          ( as with RTS’s postings ) I have no reason
          to doubt you at this time.

          So thanks again… and please read the new
          top-level posting above where I ask the obvious
          *next* questions that you said I was free to ask.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Elizabeth… I take it back.

            I do NOT appreciate your response ( since
            minutes later we found out you ARE still
            just speculating about a whole lot of things ).

            I also DO ‘now have reason to doubt you’.
            Only took a few minutes.

            If you want us to believe what you are
            alleging about this whole “It was made
            clear to DivsA that Cordes needed his
            help” carte-blanche statement…

            …then publish the evidence that allows you
            to make such a specific statement as if
            it was a FACT and let people make up
            their own minds about it.

            Thanks in advance.

            • Elizabeth says

              Again, why aren’t you making RTS publish his evidence? (FYI, my evidence is partially already out, and more should be coming out in the next few days, hopefully. But the bigger point is: why are you hounding ME and not RTS?)

    • Gary Olson says

      No Bob…I do not have more experience than you, not by a long shot, I was a hotshot for 10 years…that’s it, and that is all. I was a pencil pusher (other than my short stint hosing out outhouses) as a dispatcher making guesses about what a fire might be doing based on what color the smoke was and whether it was laying over or not until a ground commander got on scene…and if that ground commander was a GS-3 first year engine crew member…they were in charge and called the shots. Period. If you say it…that is how it is. Period. I also defer to RTS.

  22. Gary Olson says

    I am once again completely baffled by another concept. Is someone really attempting to suggest that somehow the Granite Mountain Hotshots had to leave the safe area they were in, much less had to walk in front of a fire which had reversed direction, and although it may have been primarily moving southeast, that still means it was moving south.

    And yes, the GMHS knew the fire had reversed direction, just like the meteorologists said it would, exactly when they said it was going to do it. And burn straight down that big valley full of fuel that was designed to channel the wind just like the banks of a river channel the water – in the direction the GMHS choose to walk? This is just as confusing to me as the suggestion that the GMHS or any firefighter would attempt to move to an objective under the “cover” of circling slurry bombers like they were C-130 gunships.

    I am ready for current wildland firefighter out there to jump in and correct me, but except in southern California, and because of the Santa Ana winds, which only occur in southern California, and only at certain times of the year, under specific meteorological conditions that everyone who lives in southern California understands, fires do not burn rapidly burn downhill during the day anywhere that I have ever heard or experienced (excluding some specific area, under specific conditions as a one off).

    We taught in any basic intro to firefighter class (S-130?) that because the sun heats the earth during the day, the warmer air flows up the mountains, and therefore fires generally burn uphill during the day. And as the earth cools off at night, the air flows down the mountains, and therefore fires generally “back” down the slope during the night. I used to say a fire is like a grizzly bear (shorter legs in front), it will run after you much faster uphill than it will downhill during the day, so you should always move downhill away from the fire if you can. Pretty simple stuff.

    As you are going to a fire, if the column of smoke is going straight up vertically and is white, you know can get away with a lot more (although you should still follow all of the rules just like Bob and RTS say) than if it is black and “laying over” horizontally. So…if smoke is black, and the smoke column is laying over while if points in your direction, you should be CAREFUL and get the hell out of there, especially by not moving in that direction. That is what Sonny instinctively knew even though he has never attended an S-130 class.

    And if the fire has turned into a firestorm with a really big impressive pyroclastic cloud as Sitta said in an earlier comment, nobody should be thinking about doing anything in relationship to fighting that fire, (or anything else) everyone should be doing nothing but getting as far away from it as they reasonably can, because everything is about to get real western.

    Everyone should have been pulled off the fire line…right then…if not sooner. And if no overhead ordered them to pull back, any crew boss with any common sense would have known that and done it anyway, just as Sonny did. Not complicated stuff.

    And after a fire tops out on top of the ridge, it may back down the next slope, but it will back down very slowly because it is now burning against the uphill wind from the other side, rather than with the wind. The only danger will be if the wind throw sparks high enough up so that the fire spotted down below the next slope, and the spot fires are now burning back up that hill with the wind.

    So…maybe you don’t want to commit to far going down the hill towards Congress, but just wait a few minutes and then walk back over the ridge towards Yarnell again because now that area is black (a little smoky and hot…but safe, unless there was a dirty burn that left the overstory, so now there could be a reburn, but that is getting ahead of our basic concept here and that is not what happened at Yarnell, that fire wasn’t leaving much behind…overstory, understory or otherwise).

    I don’t think anyone should be suggesting that just because the GMHS walked over the ridge while waiting for the fire to top out, the GMHS had to keep walking to Congress and take themselves completely out of the fight. That is ridiculous.

    I said a long time ago that the Granite Mountain Hotshots could have in simply stayed where they were at as they were “ordered” to do, and I do think it was an ORDER, or they could have literally walked in any direction except the one they chose to, and they would have been fine. They could have waited a few more minutes, and then simply walked to the backside of Yarnell through all of the new black the fire just created.

    No offense to the good citizens of Yarnell, but I would have been very happy to sit on that ridge and watch Mother’s Nature’s Grand Show, no matter how LITTLE taxpayers were paying my crew, and how few benefits they were giving my crew because the taxpayers always want everything as cheap as they can get them, until their little Wildland Urban Interface slice of heaven on a bun is getting burned over (or some other problem they themselves, or their loved ones are experiencing), and then they want everything, and more, done by everybody ASAP. Too late.

    Although I do have some sympathy for those residents of Yarnell who were apparently waiting for the fire overhead (who had their heads up their asses) to tell them to start evacuating the area even though the pyroclastic cloud was already looming over their overgrown yards while it was raining sparks down on their unmitigated fire-stupid (as opposed to being fire wise) indefensible structures.

    Whoops…there I go again, sounding as bitter as my new friend and loyal opposition WFF has accused me of being.

    Elizabeth…I know you and I have a difference of opinion about the status of this investigation, but I think you are using some high powered (and high dollar) talent to look into possibilities that are non-starters. I don’t know who is telling you otherwise (RTS is thinking about getting as caustic as me with his Milk Toast Hotshots comment, but I thought it was funny), but they are telling you completely wrong ideas to investigate or even consider.

    Is someone out there seriously trying to make a case that the Granite Mountain Hotshots HAD to do what they did, and that was their only REASONABLE alternative? If that is the case, this thread has really outlived its usefulness, and it’s very reason to exist (now I am starting to sound like our old and banned friend xx-fullsail-xx), maybe I do need to get a life.

      • Gary Olson says

        Elizabeth…there is a difference between ruling out other options that have already been ruled out by consensus of the wildland firefighters who have been participating in this discussion months ago, before speaking ill of the dead, and continuing to beat a horse that is already dead, no matter how good it feels. Maybe you should send me your credentials after all.

        We can’t (or at least I can’t) rule out every possible angle every nut case in this world can come up with and decide to write about…where would that end. Trying to determine whether or not the Granite Mountain Hotshots died because aliens exercised mind control over Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed and ordered to walk in front of that inferno?

        I am going to give you the bottom line here…that has always been the bottom line even when I was trying to put myself in Eric Marsh’s position as best I could, and defend his memory based on what I had “heard” about him.

        Eric Marsh ****** up and killed himself and his crew. Period. That is an indisputable fact because Eric Marsh was in charge and his crew is DEAD. A hotshot crew boss has great authority over his crew, complete authority. BUT he or she also have complete RESPONSIBILITY for their crew, and if their crew ends up dead (barring going down in a hard landing in a helicopter for example), they ***** up. Period. No exceptions…no excuses. It is what hotshot crew bosses sign up for when they accept the position. Deal with it.

        • Elizabeth says

          So, Gary, you want to just leave it at “GM Fucked Up”? Ok. Good for you. Have fun on the “how to decorate your bathroom” website or whatever website you decide to go to next since the Yarnell Hill Fire discussion is over in your eyes.

          I am surprised, though, Gary, that you do not care what exactly led the guys to march through that green field, other than them “fucking up.” I guess you are concluding that the actual reason does not matter because no other crew would ever do such a thing.

          Also, Gary, just so that we are clear, the fact that a handful of anonymous guys have been debating things in various comment threads on the internet does not rise to the level of an investigation in which anyone should place their confidence, particularly when the guys have been doing it without the benefit of, say, pictures, weather data, accurate timelines, interviews, witness statements, etc., which are still not fully released.

          More directly: How can there be a credible and fact-based conclusion (more specific than just “GM Fucked Up”) without the relevant materials? There can’t be. This debacle was a mass tragedy, and the government is trying very hard to withhold materials. Surely you have read John Dougherty’s most recent article on that exact topic? It is going to be a long time before every shred of available relevant information is released, much less considered by the WFF guys on the internet.

          For example, the AARs from the Yarnell Hill Fire – have you and Bob read them yet? What about everyone else on this website? Have *they* read them, or do you all think that they are not relevant to this discussion?

          • Gary Olson says

            Well…I guess I will have to just have to agree to disagree with you on this subject and move on to my how to decorate a bathroom website, although I am thinking about building a how to make bird houses web site…after all tomorrow is Saturday. I have not earned much in life…but I have earned the right not to argue with fools.

            • Gary Olson says

              In other words, if you or anybody else is keeping score…I don’t have to argue with anybody about anything or care what anybody thinks about anything. I think I have made that clear even if I haven’t made anything else I have said clear…my race is over, it was the same one Eric Marsh was running…I already won. Been there, did that…lived to write about it.

              • Gary Olson says

                Oh…and one more thing. Living to write about it was no big deal. In the entire history of wildland firefighting, only 3 (?) hotshot crew bosses have not lived to talk about it. Tony Czak (and he really FUCKED up, I was there) the El Cariso crew boss, Bob (and history) has clearly documented he really FUCKED up and well…you know the name of the third hotshot crew boss who really FUCKED up…right?

          • Gary Olson says

            No…I didn’t say Granite Mountain FUCKED up. The Granite Mountain Hotshots died. I said their leader…their crew boss FUCKED up because they are DEAD. No excuses.

    • Gary Olson says

      Oh…and one more thing WFF. You are right that nobody can do anything about what happened on the last fire no matter how bitter I am, but maybe somebody can do something about what happens on the next fire. IF…they learn lessons from the last fire, rather than just chalk it up to **** happens, and nobody did anything wrong?

      • Elizabeth says

        Who “ordered” anyone to stay anywhere, by the way, Gary? I have never seen that established as fact anywhere. Quite the opposite!

        • Gary Olson says

          Sigh…just like xxfullsail.xx used to do. I consider the “hunker down and be safe” an order, such as orders to hotshot crew bosses go. Or you could call it just really good FUCKING advice, whichever makes you happy. Except to arrogant, stubborn wildland firefighters who don’t think they need to follow any of the rules any of the time (coming from a guy who fought fire AGRESSIVELY but provided for safety first, that is an indictment) and who can challenge the laws of nature and the reality of the situation with immunity.

          • Gary Olson says

            Oh…and one more thing. I have always said that even if Darrell Willis (which I believe he did) or anybody else ordered Eric Marsh to go to Yarnell…it was invalid because nobody can “order” a hotshot crew boss to do something that was so risky…the result was predictable. Hindsight or not. Eric Marsh still owned that decision.

          • Elizabeth says

            I don’t think anybody actually GAVE the order to “hunker.” Or maybe you don’t care about audio forensics as part of the investigation. I did; I do.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              …and you (typically) never answered
              my question when this was discussed
              down below.

              What is your ALTERNATIVE word
              for the first word of a sentence that
              reads…

              “xxxxxxx and be safe”

              …or are you also saying that
              there is no ‘and be safe’ quote
              in the Caldwell video audio either?

              If your answer there is yes… then
              I’m afraid to inform you that
              ‘audio forensics’ has nothing to
              do with this.

              You need a hearing aid.

    • Tex Gilligan says

      We love Gary. Gosh, nothing better to one’s ears than straight talk. Muuray Taylor is smokejumper and straight shooter too. We listen to so many types in the firefighting community and we appreciate everyone’s view but we just light up when we see Gary comment. Excellent post. 9 out of 10 of the people who have walked the area with us agree with Gary and we have walked it alot. Joy has her views that she wants to see proof only but all of us shake our heads and wonder why they would drop down in that overgrown bowl of brush. Thank you Gary. I am gonna vanish as it heats up here in Arizona but I told Joy I would come back to the area to hike it with you if the time ever came and you wanted such hike.

      • Gary Olson says

        Thank you Tex, from somebody who has seen and done the things you have seen and done in your life…well, that is truly a compliment.

  23. Elizabeth says

    FYI, for those who missed it and for those who have been asking me, I did mention below that the evidence that *I* have gathered does not suggest that Jesse Steed or Eric Marsh had a pattern of behaving in a needlessly and excessively risky manner. Marsh was actually commended by an outside fire official for GM’s and his work on the Station Fire.
    For those who want my source documents, please feel free to e-mail me.
    It might well end up being that I find a pattern of excessively risky conduct at some point, but, for now, I have gone through over 200 GB of largely not-yet-publicly-available documentation and found nothing. That suggests to me that I am not likely to find anything….

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Elizabeth…

      Please at least indicate a reference for the following statement
      that you have made a number of times now…

      >> they (GM) could have done NOTHING to help Gary Cordes –
      >> who had ASKED for their help

      What evidence exists for you to keep making such a statement
      that it was Gary Cordes himself who ‘asked’ GM to leave
      the safe black?

      • Elizabeth says

        See above.
        By the way, WTKTT, why don’t you grill the anonymous posters on this site about their sources, rather than only grilling me? You don’t even *know* RTS’s real name (and you know MY real name and my investigation-relevant professional background), yet you take what RTS says that other anonymous sources say as gospel truth, while meanwhile grilling me. Why is that, WTKTT?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to Elizabeth post on
          March 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

          >> Elizabeth said…
          >>
          >> See above.

          What is that supposed to mean?

          Are you saying you DO have evidence that
          Cordes himself personally made the request
          for GM to leave the safe black… but I’m
          supposed to email you just to get a
          ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ on that?

          >> Elizabeth also said…
          >> By the way, WTKTT, why don’t you grill the
          >> anonymous posters on this site about their
          >> sources, rather than only grilling me?

          Do you even read this thread?

          Oftentimes I do just that.

          This time… it’s not about anyone else but you.

          All I want to know is do YOU have any real
          evidence for the claim you keep making that
          it was Gary Cordes himself who personally
          requested GM to leave the safe black?

          >> Elizabeth also said…
          >> You don’t even *know* RTS’s real name (and
          >> you know MY real name and my investigation
          >> relevant professional background), yet you take
          >> what RTS says that other anonymous sources
          >> say as gospel truth

          See above. There have been MANY times when
          I have asked RTS to back up things he has
          said. He always does… to the extent that I
          now understand he is able to.

          And I assure you… if RTS was the one currently
          stating that Cordes was the one who requested
          GM to come down as if it was a FACT…

          … I would be ‘grilling’ him about it as well.

          This isn’t about RTS.
          It’s about YOU.

          >> while meanwhile grilling me.
          >> Why is that, WTKTT?

          Read your own professed ‘approach to
          investigations’ above.

          TRUST… but VERIFY.

          I want YOU to provide some indication that you
          are basing your statement about Cordes on
          evidence… and not speculation.

          Can you do that for me (us)?

          It’s important.

          • Elizabeth says

            If all you wanted was a “yes” or a “no,” the answer is “of COURSE” (e.g. “yes”) I have a source. I actually have THREE.

            I have already made clear to you that, for professional reasons, I try very hard not to state anything as a fact unless I have convinced myself to a degree that I ethically believe is appropriate that I have an established fact. So, when I assert things as facts, you can assume that I have a source. Feel free to keep asking, of course.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Elizabeth…

              Thank you… and ignore my response
              to Bob Powers above which was
              written BEFORE I saw this blurb
              down here.

              So to be CLEAR…

              ( You only have to answer again
              if the answer is NO )…

              You DO have THREE sources of
              real evidence that establish, without
              a shadow of a doubt, that SPGS1
              Gary Cordes, who just received the
              Arizona Wildfire Association’s
              Firefighter of the Year award for
              his ‘heroic’ actions on the Yarnell
              hill fire…

              …is, in fact, the one who personally
              asked Granite Mountain to leave
              the ‘safe black’ that afternoon.

              My only *next* question ( since I
              am now free to ask )… is when
              and in what format do you plan
              to publish whatever it is you
              are doing?

              • Elizabeth says

                WTKTT, as I explained elsewhere, Cordes and Musser were talking, Cordes indicated that he needed “resources” to “bump” to his area in light of the fire now moving due east toward his area (as opposed to moving NORTH toward the territory that Willis was working on), apparently Cordes’s radio was not transmitting well, so Musser reached out to DivsA on Cordes’s behalf.

                • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                  See above where I call
                  you out on this ‘backtrack’
                  of yours.

                  If you really want us to
                  believe what you say
                  here… show us the
                  evidence. Post it
                  somewhere public.

                  • SR says

                    Yes. Simply not credible as-is. And this has been going on in multiple comments addressing multiple topics. When pressed, there is then a backtrack. Her confusing Santa Anas as something that happened at YHF become RTS saying that…not good.

    • Bob Powers says

      Until his pears come forward you probably wont see written statements. I believe RTS came forward with the information if you chose not to believe it then you may miss the very key to unlock this mystery. it has happened before on the Loop fire. almost the same activity except only half the crew died. Do what ever it takes to make a name for yourself. If GM was rewarded for taking chances then they justified the fact they could do more chance taking. Braking the rules justified by the end result. In ten years I am sure they did some good things and received good ratings. They probably averaged 30 big fires per year all over the west.

      • SR says

        I think most small groups with a strong leader and a practice of rule-breaking and secrecy even as to things such as their physical location when “on the clock” tend, very rationally, to not keep extensive records of their rulebreaking. So, unless someone outside GM did put notes in a file that got produced via FOIA, there’s no reason to even look for evidence of that sort of thing there.

      • Elizabeth says

        Bob, I have avoided saying this, but it seems like you are going to press the point, so here we go…. I am partially echoing what Mike has already said (but everyone ignored), when I make the obvious and grave point as follows:
        If I buy into RTS’s theory, then I have to buy into the fact that RTS and his friends deliberately did NOTHING about something that they recognized as a life-threatening problem (“we could see this coming” or something like that is what RTS says his friends said). The fact that men in RTS’s position would stand by without sending an E-MAIL, anonymous note, or anything to Prescott Human Resources, to ADOSH, or to ANYONE (which would then lead to a paper trail that I could sniff out) is something I refuse to fathom. Period.

  24. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> On March 20, 2014 at 12:27 pm, Elizabeth said:
    >>
    >> My investigation motto is (and should always be) “Trust but VERIFY.”
    >> If I am going to do an investigation the RIGHT way, then I cannot RELY
    >> on what Sonny (for example) claims or what one anonymous guy says
    >> another anonymous guy said without VERIFYING things to the
    >> extent that I can.

    Always a good approach.

    So… using your OWN ‘approach’ about not trusting something just
    because someone SAYS it…

    >> Elizabeth on March 20, 2014 at 1:01 pm said:
    >>
    >> Just thinking out loud, here, if you are suggesting that they should have
    >> gone all the way to Congress, well, it is obvious to me why going to
    >> Congress was not appealing, because it would mean they were effectively
    >> out of the workday. Meaning, they could have done NOTHING to help Gary
    >> Cordes – who had ASKED for their help – and the communities if they had
    >> gone over the ridge.

    Keyphrase…

    >> they (GM) could have done NOTHING to help Gary Cordes –
    >> who had ASKED for their help

    I believe that’s about the third time you have said that… WITHOUT
    providing any reference of any kind.

    What gives you the right to keep saying that it was Gary Cordes
    himself who ASKED ‘them’ ( Marsh? Steed? who? ) for ‘help’ that day?

    What evidence do YOU have that allows you to make such a
    specific statement… as if it was a FACT?

    Gary Cordes was just awarded this year’s Arizona Wildfire Academy
    Firefighter of the Year award for his actions at the Yarnell Hill Fire…

    …and you are putting the request for GM to leave the safe black that day
    directly into his mouth.

    Please provide some PROOF of why you are doing that.

  25. Elizabeth says

    If the big question that I, personally, am examining is “why did the GM guys leave the spot where they were sitting in the photos taken at roughly 4:02 and 4:04 p.m. and go to the Boulder Springs Ranch,” then part of answering that question for ME involves understanding fully the other options that were available at 4:04.

    Hiking DOWN the two-track that Blue Ridge came in on for the face-to-face meeting with GM was no longer an option at 4:04 p.m. because the fire was pretty darn close to the two-track at that point. Hiking over to the black up the mountain might have been an option – IF all 19 men could have done it in roughly 22 minutes – although I am still thinking through (me, personally) whether there was anything about the black that would have made it less desirable to GM at that point at 4:04 p.m. The fact that it involved an incredibly steep slope at the top of robust green (raising super-heated gas issues) is not great, particularly since one firefighter on the fire that day believes the flame lengths were in excess of 200 feet when the front unexpectedly pushed at roughly 4:27-ish p.m.
    WTKTT’s new revelation that there were HUGE green areas (“the size of soccer fields”) in the black also could have been a thought in GM’s collective mind as they analyzed whether they wanted to get in there (given that they presumably realized that any green areas in the black could have caught fire at any time and put off some, flying embers, and radiant heat). If I am missing anything with that, such that having huge green areas (“the size of soccer fields”) in the black is not actually a problem, please let me know. (To that end, I would be grateful if people like SR, WTKTT, etc. could lay off the snark and needlessly insulting comments toward me, since those comments make me want to throw up my hands and walk away, which would benefit neither the communities impacted by the fire nor the larger wildfire/firefighting/emergency communities generally. Thank you.)

    • Bob Powers says

      No way in that fuel flame lengths were 200 ft.. I am not trying to be negative to you in any way. The Black even with some islands was safe. The Islands never burned during the 1600 blowup of the fire. That was WTKTT fact that the burned area was safe not that GM could use it as a SZ. Please listen to what we as fire fighters are telling you. I am trying not to be snarky or insulting just answer your questions. RTS was on site several months ago and also said the black was safe and referred to Frisby stating the same thing. Also to clarify if GM would have waited in the black till the fire made its run to the Boulder Springs Ranch. Then they could have walked across the top on the ATV trail and down the trail to the vehicle parking area they had left there trucks in and back into town. That was a real option than going into heavy brush. That option would have taken longer for some reason they were in a hurry. They never had to leave the black because of the fire. That was one thing determined by the Region 3 Hot Shot Superintendent walk thru on the fire. If you read the other statements from the past 2 days you will note that even Tex said the Black was safe on top and over the ridge again 300 ft. to the top of the ridge see map.

      • Elizabeth says

        Thanks, Bob. Just so you know, however, my investigation motto is (and should always be) “Trust but VERIFY.” If I am going to do an investigation the RIGHT way, then I cannot RELY on what Sonny (for example) claims or what one anonymous guy says another anonymous guy said without VERIFYING things to the extent that I can.

        To that end, it doesn’t MATTER if the green *never* burned. That is an “ex post” analysis, and I am doing an “ex ante” analysis. What did GM know at 4:04 p.m. when they made their decision? They knew that there were green areas in the black that were the “size of soccer fields.” Isn’t that kind of dangerous for a black or no? Again, I care about WHY GM did what they did, not what we NOW know didn’t burn.

        Thank you, though, for giving me your input (and for doing it without snark)! :)

        • Bob Powers says

          No it is not unsafe unless something like a contentions understory burn where the top of the fuel doesn’t burn a fire creeps thru the ground fuel and the over story could crown and burn. The Islands in question were left after the first 2 days of the burn or first 400 acres. Many fires leave what is called a mosaic burn. Burned area with Islands and strips of unburned inside the burn. Those Islands were to far from the big burn on the 30th to catch fire well inside the burn area. As is evidence that they did not catch fire on the afternoon of the 30th. They were well inside the old burn area not next to the fire line and unburned fuel. There were also some areas referred to by WTNTT near the deployment area I am not talking about those. just the burned area on the 28 to the morning early afternoon of the 30th. Dose that make science to you?

          • Bob Powers says

            Also what GM knew—–
            Marsh and crew knew they had 400 to 1800 acres of burn above them and there fire line.
            Marsh walked way up into the area and also met with Frisby on top in the Black. They knew they had a lot of black above them.

          • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

            To try and add a little additional clarity to the subject, let me provide this example:

            An acre is approximately the size of one football field. Let’s say that there were five, separate, one acre unburned areas within the black. That would leave 395 football fields of black for a crew to shelter in, within the 400 acre area.

            • Elizabeth says

              Yeah, but, uh, have you looked at WHERE those “soccer fields” or football fields are and how fast GM could get to them and around them? I haven’t (which is why I am asking YOU). For me, it is all about verifying the details, as opposed to believing what some anonymous guy said that another anonymous guy said.
              That said, what Bob Powers says makes sense to me.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                Reply to Elizabeth post on
                March 20, 2014 at 1:41 pm

                >> Elizabeth said…
                >>
                >> Yeah, but, uh, have you
                >> looked at WHERE those
                >> “soccer fields” or football
                >> fields are and how fast GM
                >> could get to them and
                >> around them? I haven’t.

                For the third time…

                The photos being discussed
                at this time are HERE…

                A42-Aerial Video and
                Photos Mayhew
                https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7b7asvh6ptdavbr/FixOl2n6pI

                269 super highres aerial
                photos taken on July 4, 2013,
                just 4 days after the Yarnell tragedy.

        • Sonny says

          I don’t claim anything. I state the day as it happened. What claims are you referring to when using my name, Elizabeth? I have had numerous firefighters hike it with me with extensive background in fires and they are so very proud I shared that day. Do not forget, I had Joy snap photos all through that day. What if I never did. Where would anyone from the Sair to OSHA to media/authors/journalists/investigators be if I had not made her take them in 103-107 degree weather to show the fire at the fire edge. Joy wanted to take a few shots to show locals the area and go. I can speak and you can have no interest in me but we have been nothing but open in sharing that day to all who seek the truth. We do not feel the weather was the final factor until all areas have been exhausted on the human factor area. That is all. Simple. We never made any claims or theories but shared purely our accounts that whole weekend.

            • Tex Gilligan says

              somewhere you mentioned my name Sonny and “claim” to have ???

              so I replied.

              I just want to clarify I never made theories or claims. I just told my accounts as they happened on the fire with proof (vidoes and photos) and every day since.

              I would probably name the people Joy would not but Joy knows the community and respects the sensitivity of the people and their traumas so I will not do that for Joy. Joy just hopes the people in time will come out and tell you all. Some did. Dr. Leroy Anderson and his CBS Morgan Loew piece shares that account. Thank you for not disputing the accounts because its how my day happened. I saved Joy’s life and she to this day does not understand that too well. That’s ok with me. It’s life experience of knowing that terrain and fire. She is a kid. Yet I knew early on to leave that area. Wooten/Morrison compliments our account that weekend. Excellent reading.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to Bob Powers post on March 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm

        >> Mr. Powers said…
        >> The Black even with some islands was safe.
        >> The Islands never burned during the 1600
        >> blowup of the fire.
        >> That was WTKTT fact that the burned area was
        >> safe not that GM could use it as a SZ.

        Correct. The ONLY reason I pointed out those aerial
        photos of the ‘safe black’ at the anchor point in the
        discussion below was so that if anyone still had any
        doubts that the existing ‘safe-black’ was NEVER
        ‘touched by flame lengths’ or ‘hit by spotting’ that
        afternoon… then there is the PROOF.

        Besides… even IF they had any ‘concerns’ up there…
        they could have turned even that one ‘visible’ unburned
        area into a parking lot if they hadn’t wasted 35 minutes
        hiking south, dropping into a fuel-filled tangled mess
        of a canyon, and eventually walking into a wall of flames.

        You can do a LOT of clearing in 35 minutes with 4
        chainsaws and 19 guys…. and that one area they
        could ‘see’ already right near them and could have
        turned into a ‘dirt parking lot’ was 2/3 the size of
        the ‘safe-zone’ they ended up wasting time hiking
        to, anyway. It didn’t happen. They LEFT ‘the black’.

        >> They never had to leave the black because of the fire.

        Correct… and anyone who calls themselves a wildland
        firefighter would have known that.

        >> They were in a hurry.

        Yes… they were. Their decisions (apparently) had
        NOTHING to do with ‘staying safe’ as OPS1 Todd
        Abel TOLD them to do. They were on ‘a mission’.

        I just wish that if they were in such a hurry that they
        would choose that absurd ‘short-cut’ through that
        fuel-filled canyon with no lookout… then why weren’t
        they moving at ‘double-time’ on the hike south
        before even making that decision? The ‘minutes’ that
        would have cut off the trip *might* have made
        the difference, in the end.

        The SOONER they could have reached the floor
        of that canyon and found out they were in deep
        tapioca… the more options they would have
        had ( RUN forward to ranch or RUN back to ridge ).

        Brendan McDonough knows EXACTLY what their
        ‘mission’ was that afternoon… whose IDEA it was…
        and so does anyone else ( Darrell Willis? ) who was
        listening to that infamous ‘discussing their options’
        conversation..

        • Elizabeth says

          My view is that there is NO way that they could have made it to the floor of the valley *AND* back up it again before the fire was on them as per the Matt Oss photos. That’s also (one reason) why the suggestion that they should have walked the entire ridge over to the Boulder Springs Ranch was a non-starter.

          • Elizabeth says

            I should elaborate, to avoid being cryptic: When the assumed descent route was TOTALLY burned out, it still took the fit, average guy roughly 15 or 20-ish minutes to get fully down it. Imagine being one of 19 hiking back UP it with a pack and guys in front of you and behind you. Even if you drop everything and RUN, how likely is it that you can get back up it faster than, say, 12 minutes. So, 20 minutes down, 12 minutes up, we are at 32 minutes total. By then, the fire in the Matt Oss photos would have been on them, it seems.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Reply to Elizabeth post
              on March 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm

              >> Elizabeth said…
              >> When the assumed descent route
              >> was TOTALLY burned out, it still
              >> took the fit, average guy roughly
              >> 15 or 20-ish minutes to get fully
              >> down it.

              Nope. Blue Ridge Captain Brown
              made the same exact descent on
              the same exact path assumed
              for GM ( the drainage area ) in
              only FOUR minutes when he was
              ‘running’ down from the ridge to
              the deployment site following
              the burnover. See the Blue Ridge
              GPS data records.

              >> Imagine being one of 19 hiking
              >> back UP it with a pack and guys
              >> in front of you and behind you.

              It’s absurd to even imagine they
              would have still had their packs on,
              or to even use the word ‘hiking’ to
              describe the kind of ‘scramble for
              your life’ moments that would have
              been happening there.

              >> Even if you drop everything and
              >> RUN, how likely is it that you can
              >> get back up it faster than, say,
              >> 12 minutes.

              VERY likely.

              Have you EVER felt the kind of
              adrenaline, yourself, that would have
              been completely in play there?

              Life or Death?

              It’s awesome what can happen then.

              >> So, 20 minutes down, 12 minutes
              >> up, we are at 32 minutes total. By
              >> then, the fire in the Matt Oss
              >> photos would have been on
              >> them, it seems.

              Someday someone needs to do a
              ‘full adrenaline’ test… but I believe
              the ‘return trip’ could have been
              accomplished in 6 minutes, even
              with the manzanita to deal with.

              That means that if they had
              ‘dropped packs and run’ at the
              exact moment they decided it
              was their only option… SOME
              of them MIGHT have made it
              back up ( and OVER ) the ridge.

              Perhaps only half of them ( whoever
              was best at maintaining maximum
              speed and not falling down at all ).

              Don’t forget… we now know that
              they had realized their predicament
              some moments ( perhaps even
              1 or 2 minutes? ) BEFORE Steed
              made his first MAYDAY call.

              That is not ‘over modulation’ being
              heard in Steed’s first MAYDAY call.

              It’s CHAINSAWS already RUNNING.

              So the fact that they realized their
              predicament PRIOR to 1639 and
              had already spent time deciding
              to deploy, finding the spot, and
              pulling the ropes on the chainsaws
              just adds even MORE time to
              what would have been needed to
              get back up the ridge.

              If they even just spent 60 seconds
              doing all that before the first
              MAYDAY call… then even your
              (very) conservative ’12 minutes’ up
              time means they could have
              made it out of there.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                Only a good test will prove it.

                Full adrenaline, no pack, life
                or death scramble, as fast
                as possible back up.

                No one has done such a test.

                Even if someone does… the
                results will ONLY apply to
                that third and final ‘fatal
                decision’ moment from that
                day… but it would still be
                interesting to know what
                might have been possible.

    • Joy A Collura says

      black that would have made it less desirable to GM at that point at 4:04 p.m.
      WHERE IS TOM DOLAN—HE HAS THE WEATHER SCIENTIFIC NAMES—YET IN LAY MEN TERMS HE STATED THE 2000 DEGREE HOT ASH WOULD OF GOT SONNY AND ME AS WELL AS THE GMHS IN CERTAIN AREAS OF THE BLACK WHEN THAT LATE AFTERNOON TORNADO/CLOUD COLLAPSED AND DROPPED THAT “P”-ASH DOWN—SO HE SAYS THAT WOULD MAKE IT LESS DESIRABLE. DO NOT THROW UP YOUR HANDS ELIZABETH. SOME OF THE 2014 FOLKS THAT COME OUR WAY HAVE TRIED TO RE-NARRATE OUR HIKE AND EYE-WITNESS ACCOUNTS AND YOU ARE SPOT ON TO KEEP TREKKING WITH THIS AND TOO MANY HAVE COME TO US AND APPRECIATE EVERY BIT OF ASSISTANCE AND TIME PEOPLE HAVE FOR THIS IS A HARD HEALING PROCESS FOR SO MANY— NOW, TOM DOLAN SAID THE ASH ALONE AT 2000 DEGREES WOULD OF KILLED THEM YET REMEMBER WE ARE ALIVE AND WITH THE SQUIRRELY WINDS THAT DAY AND THE ODD RETARDANT DROPS AND NOONE COMING PUBLIC YET SHOWING THE AERIAL THOSE LAST HOURS BEFORE DARK OR THE HOMEOWNERS NOT POSTING PUBLIC “YET” THEN ALL WE CAN DO IS WAIT—YET AS I TOLD TOM DOLAN THAT HE MADE AN EXCELLENT PRESENTATION FROM A WEATHER SIDE OF IT BUT IN THE END HE THOUGHT MAYBE WE THOUGHT THIS WAS A SMOKE GUN OR HOWEVER THE PHRASE IS BUT NOPE- WE JUST WANT THE FACTS AND FOR DOCUMENTS AND SOURCE TO SHOW TO HOW IT BECAME A FACT IS ALL—I RESPECT ALL THE FOLKS WHO ARE LOCKED IN THAT THE MEN DID WRONG BUT I WON’T SETTLE AS THAT IS THE PURITY OF IT ALL UNTIL ALL AREAS HAVE BEEN LOOKED AT AND THAT IS IMPORTANT. TOM SAYS IT WAS THE WEATHER THAT WAS THE FINAL CONTRIBUTOR FACTOR AND WE TEND TO WANT TO EXHAUST “ALL” ANGLES OF THE HUMAN FACTOR AS WELL AS THE HUMAN PERCEPTIONS AS THIS UNFOLDED—WHAT I SAW WILL NOT BE THE SAME PERCEPTION AS WHAT TEX SAW…HE SAW IT AS DANGEROUS EARLY ON AND I DID NOT SO YOU SEE HOW WE SAW THE SAME FIRE BUT SAW IT DIFFERENT. I HAVE HIKED THE MOUNTAINS AND BEEN KNOWN TO HIKE IT WITH SNAKE BOOTS BUT I DID A LUNDI MOVE AND I WAS BAREFOOT OR WITH SANDALS ON DOING ABOUT 8 MILES AND OF ALL DAYS I HAD A SNAKE CROSS OVER MY ANKLE/FOOT BECAUSE I WAS TALKING TO TEX AND NOT FOCUSED TO THE GROUND AND AROUND SO ON THIS FIRE I WANT TO BE FOCUSED TO WHAT WE SAW ON THE GROUND AND AROUND BUT AS WELL EXHAUST ALL ACCOUNTS FROM ALL AREAS AND PIECE THIS PUZZLE TOGETHER AND THE SAIR DOES NOT MATCH ALOT OF HOMEOWNERS DOCUMENTED WITH PROOF ACCOUNTS AND ALL WE CAN DO IS KEEP PRAYING THE MORE THAT COME FORWARD THE MORE AT EASE MORE FEEL TO COMING FORWARD. SOME WE SPOKE WITH KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT WE ARE NOT GOING TO SHARE WHO SHOWED US WHAT BUT WE WILL ALWAYS ENCOURAGE IT TO BE MADE PUBLIC AND I DO NOT CARE IF IT SOUNDS REDUNDANT BUT I HAVE TO KEEP IT FRESH IN THE POSTS FOR SOME DO NOT SCROLL TO OLD INFORMATION AND IT HAS BEEN SHOWING RESULTS TO AT LEAST HELP US WHO EYE-WITNESSED UNDERSTAND THE FIRE BETTER FROM OTHERS’ VIEWS AND ANGLES THAT SAW IT TOO.

      • Bob Powers says

        I would say Mr. Dolan has no idea what he is talking about. 2000 degree hot ash in all my years I have seen no such thing. 2000 degrees hot air and a blow torch fire I have seen but that is centralized in the flaming front. Flame lengths going up hill in that type of fuel wind driven would not reach more than 100 Ft. as soon as the fire ran out of fuel the flame length would vanish as well as the high heat. the high heat would then dissipate some one on or slightly over a ridge 300+ feet from the fire would feel very little heat. Burning embers 400 to 500 Deg. Ignition point of woody fuel.
        I have been on timber fires when they have crowned in the black, ash and smoke can be uncomfortable but not life threating and not 2000 degrees. I do not know how else to say it except only direct wind blown flame would carry any where near 2000 Degrees. 300 ft from the flame is safe in the black unless your in a chimney or narrow steep canyon where the heat would be concentrated the top of the mountain was certently not that.

        • Joy A Collura says

          he had scientific names for it but it was the late afternoon fire tornado he stated when the ash collapsed—the presentation may of made it to youtube- he did one here in Yarnell recently-

            • Joy A Collura says

              spot on. I actually stated that on the phone to him. I think he felt I was being a lady of debate but I too stated your last comment. Can you view the presentation. I just want facts/proof not speculations-

  26. Robert the Second says

    WTKKT,

    I have some questions and comments regarding some of your comments to my post about your link for the Dropbox photos of the burned area around the GMHS SZ.

    My point was that dropping off the ridge toward Congress as Tex suggested was a very good idea and commonly used in the WFF world. You’ll notice how the fire more-or-less petered out over the backside of the ridge. Hopping over a ridgetop works as a good SZ unless you have strong gravity winds like Santa Anas that burn downhill as fast and intense as uphill. Gravity winds were not the case on the YHF.

    You mentioned how many of the boulders were not scorched and burned. Boulders do not make good SZ’s especially when they are surrounded by heavy fuel – thick brush in this case. So then, just because the boulders in these photos don’t show any/much evidence of scorch seems to be giving you a false sense of them being a safe alternative to a true SZ. Definitely not the case.

    The green unburned islands you point out are very common on chaparral fires and should in no way be an indicator that one could either locate thos and/or rely on those as vialbe SZ’s. They’re the result of a number of factors like wind shifts, fire behavior pulses, higher fuel moistures, and the like.

    • Robert the Second says

      WTKTT,

      And the gaps/areas between the boulders act as chimneys, chutes, and saddles that funnel the winds and thus the fire behavior. Therefore, boulders do NOT make good SZ’s. I have never and would never use boulders as SZ’s or even safe areas unless they were devoid of fuel.

    • Elizabeth says

      RTS, are I to understand that you are stating that all 19 GM Hotshots could have made it through the black and up the steep hike and over the ridge toward Congress, making it PAST the part of the Congress-side of the ridge that burned by no later than 4:27 p.m., even though they would not have departed on that trek sooner than 4:04 p.m.? If so, have you hiked that area? (I have not.) Thank you.

        • Bob Powers says

          Elizabeth–Check below for the statements by me and WTNTT about distances from their location before they moved. From the heal of the fire it was 300 FT. to the ridge and the location where the fire started, an easy hike and in the burn. Also I went back to the state report and there is a topo map of the fire at 1300 that shows all the info and ridge line if you have knowledge of topographic maps.

          • Elizabeth says

            Ok, so, Bob, if I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the guys should have hiked UP the ridge… and over down to Congress, where they would have been totally out of the fire efforts, yes? If so, how long do you estimate that it would have taken them to get UP the ridge, before THEN turning and hiking all the way down to Congress. We know that the hike to Joy and Sonny – just two people – hours. How long would it have taken 19 GM guys, do you suppose? I am just thinking out loud, here. Trying to think this through….

            • Bob Powers says

              I dought the hike into the Black would have taken 15 Min. They did not have to go to Congress but could have. The further into the black the more comfortable they would be. But they were always in the black and therefore safe.

            • Joy A Collura says

              REPLY TO—if I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that the guys should have hiked UP the ridge… FROM THE LUNCH BREAK AREA THERE IS HUGE BOULDERS NEAR ON THE MOUNTAINTOP AND YOU COULD EASILY RIDE THE MOUNTAINTOP TO THE AREA ABOVE THE 2 TRACK RIDGE AND SEE ALL FIRES AS WE DID—DROP DOWN ON TO THE 2 TRACK ROAD OR DROP TO THE CONGRESS SIDE BUT WE HAD THE FIRES IN VIEW MOST OF THAT MOUNTAINTOP HIKE AND IF THEY SAW IT TURN LIKE TEX (SONNY) DID AND THE DAY OF SQUIRRELY WINDS THEN THE ORIGINAL SAFETY ZONE OF THE HELM’S SHOULD AT THAT POINT BETWEEN 1-2PM BEEN MARKED AN AREA OF OMITTING AND BEGIN NEW LOCATION—WHICH IS HOW WE WENT AND WE HAD THE FIRE IN SIGHT UNTIL WE DROPPED DOWN WAY PAST ACRI’S CEMENT TRUCK ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP AND WAY PAST THE WINDMILL AREA SO THAT LETS YOU KNOW WE HAD THE FIRE IN VIEW AND WE ONLY DROPPED WHEN IT WAS FAR ENOUGH AWAY FOR TEX’S THINKING— and over down to Congress, where they would have been totally out of the fire efforts, yes?THEY STILL COULD SEE THE FIRE FROM THAT POINT AND THEY STILL COULD OF GOT TO GLEN ILAH ENDING UP NEAR THE HELM’S ON FOOTHILL LIKE WE DID OR PASS BY CANDIE CANE LANE LIKE WE DID—THERE WAS OTHE ROPTIONS. If so, how long do you estimate that it would have taken them to get UP the ridge, before THEN turning and hiking all the way down to Congress.I HIKE IT ALOT AND I AM STOUT AND IT DOES NOT TAKE LONG AT ALL DEPENDING WHICH SLOPE/STEEP TERRAIN/BOULDEROUS AREA. I MEAN IF I BEING STOUT HIKE FROM CONGRESS TO PRESCOTT USING THAT STEEP AREA AS A SHORTCUT AT TIMES VS TRAILING HWY 89 THEN I KNOW THE ELITE GMHS COULD DO IT AND I HIKE ALL YEAR ROUND IN THE HOTTEST TIMES SO YES THEY COULD OF DONE THAT BUT THERE IS A MISSING FACTOR AS TO WHY THEY FELT TO GO FROM THE BLACK TO THAT MOST DENSE MAZE LIKE VEGETATION BUT I FEEL CONFIDENT IN GOD’S TIME THE TRUTH WILL BE REVEALED BUT I STRONGLY FEEL THE SAIR AND OSHA REPORT IS NOT ALL OF IT. We know that the hike to Joy and Sonny – just two people – hours.PLEASE KNOW THAT WAS “THAT” FIRE AND NOT A NORMAL SITUATION BUT PEOPLE DO NOT REALIZE JUST A FEW DAYS BEFORE THAT WE HIKED FROM PRESCOTT DMV TOWARDS YARNELL WHEN MY HUSBAND WAS COMING HOME FROM WORK AND SAW US IN BETWEEN WILHOIT/YARNELL AND TOOK US THE REST OF THE WAY, PLUS WE HIKED THE NEXT DAY, THE DAY OF THE FIRE ON THE 28TH, THE 29TH, AND THE 30TH WITH NO BREAKS AND IT WAS VERY HOT THAT DAY SO YES IT DID TAKE LONGER BECAUSE JOY HAD THIS OLD MINER IN HER EAR SAY “TAKE THIS PHOTO OR THAT ONE” AND I HAD MY CAMERA IN MY BACKPACK ON MY BACK SO THERE WAS DELAYS IN TIME ALSO BECAUSE I TOOK MY SNAKE BOOTS OFF FOR 40 MINUTES MY FEET SWELLED AND I HAD 6 BLISTERS ALREADY FROM THE PRESCOTT HIKE. DIFFERENT DAYS I CAN GO QUICK BUT MY GPS READINGS ON AVERAGE SAYS WITH MY HEIGHT I RANGE FROM 7-9MPH ON MY PACE IN HIKES BUT NOT IN DENSE AREAS IT SHOWS 1-3MPH IF THAT HELPS. YET THAT DAY I WAS 1-3 ALL THE WAY AND ZERO AT TIMES RESTING AWAY FROM THAT DRAINING SUN—THE SMOKE THAT AFFECTED MY LUNGS AND THIS OLD MINER WHO FELT HE KNEW WHAT WAS BEST AND I WAS GRUMPY AS ALL HELL TO LISTEN TO ANYONE AND WANTED TO REST AT EVERY SHADE SPOT. I AM NOT THE GMHS AND I DID NOT WALK IN A FORMAL LINE WITH HEAVY GEAR AND I COULD NOT IMAGINE THEM SCALING 14FT BOULDERS AS TEX HAD ME ON AND MORGAN LOEW IS THE ONLY HIKE THAT WENT THE WAY WE WENT, THE WAY THE MEN WENT AND SAW EVERYTHING AND IT WAS A VERY LENGTHY HIKE BUT I CAN LOOK BACK AND SAY WHATEVER CBS REPORTER MORGAN LOEW REPORTS HE GOES THE DISTANCE NOT SOME FAUX HIKE FOR A QUICK STORY. HE SPENT TIME ASSESSING WHO WE WERE AND LOCALS—HE REALLY SPENT “TIME” ABOVE AND BEYOND ANY REPORTER’S JOB DUTIES— How long would it have taken 19 GM guys, do you suppose? I WOULD LIKE THAT ANSWER TOOI am just thinking out loud, here. Trying to think this through….KEEP AT IT—ELIZABETH IS ALSO ONE OF THE FIRST TO GET GOING ON THIS AND HAS BEEN STRONG IN HELPING ALL AND WE APPRECIATE ALL YOU DO—EVERYONE HERE. THIS IS A TOGETHERNESS THING AND ITS IMPORTANT IT STAYS STRONG SO THANK YOU ALL-

          • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

            Also, as one looks at the eastern facing photos of the western ridge slopes, taken in the days after the fire had completed it’s push to west, one will see that there has been very little burning DOWN those western slopes. This backs-up what some of us have been saying regarding the usually safe passage of the down and out route, unless, as RTS has noted, it’s a Santa Ana like event.

            • Elizabeth says

              TTWARE: When you say a Santa Ana-like event, I am assuming that the wind event documented in the Matt Oss photos is of that ilk, but perhaps I am misunderstanding.
              My personal view is that we need to be mindful of the terrain and the fact that we had 19 guys traveling in a pack. Could they have realistically gotten up the ridge and OVER the ridge out of the super-heated gasses and the catastrophic smoke within roughly 20-ish minutes? I don’t know.

              • SR says

                Santa Anas are downslope winds fed by high pressure air masses that cross into CA and then literally fall downhill. That is very different from what the Oss photos show.

              • Joy A Collura says

                If you mean could the men go from facing the fire and climb that steep sloped GREEN terrain from the deployment area—hell no. Not with it GREEN and that maze-like terrain and the grade/angle of steepness. nope. Ask the local rancher and the local jogger and some off the grid folks who know that exact spot or ask the Helm’s–NOPE. Not even if you were “specially groomed”—maybe one very special elite one but not 19 with all that gear.

      • Robert the Second says

        Elizabeth,

        Yes, that’s what I’m stating. I am “stating that all 19 GM Hotshots could have made it through the black and up the [SHORT] steep hike and [UP] over the ridge [AND DOWN THE OTHER SIDE] toward Congress, making it PAST the part of the Congress-side of the ridge that burned by no later than 4:27 p.m., even though they would not have departed on that trek sooner than 4:04 p.m.” Yes, they could have made it safely. Just look at the Dropbox photos where the fire BARELY burned over the top of the ridge. AND they could have even burned off some of the Congress-side of the slope as they travelled down toward the highway and sought refuge in that black. AND the “Congress-side of the ridge that burned” would have also provided them a SZ and safe refuge.

        ANY of these, ALL of these, would have been a much safer alternative to the virtual suicide route they took down into the unburned chute and unburned bowl. Death traps for sure.

        I think they would have been very foolish to abandon their perfectly good SZ at that time of the day, during the intense and erratic winds, and coincident extreme fire behavior. However, with the GMHS leaving at or about 4:04 would have easily allowed them to make it safely UP over the top of the ridge and DOWN toward the road to Congress (that may even be visible in some of the Dropbox photos).

        • Elizabeth says

          Thanks, RTS.
          Just thinking out loud, here, if you are suggesting that they should have gone all the way to Congress, well, it is obvious to me why going to Congress was not appealing, because it would mean they were effectively out of the workday. Meaning, they could have done NOTHING to help Gary Cordes – who had ASKED for their help – and the communities if they had gone over the ridge.
          Also, I do not agree with you that the trip to the Boulder Springs Ranch was a suicide march, based on the weather and wind data that they had available to them at the time. We all know that it turned out to be a death march, but I am looking at what they KNEW at the time when they started their move (at likely 4:05 p.m.), and, based on what they knew at the time, it seemed that it would be fine.

          • SR says

            There are things that just don’t seem to be processing here. I am not sure where Elizabeth gets the idea that, at the time GM committed to descending via the bowl, that conditions suggested this would be safe, at all. Likewise, Elizabeth keeps referring to the superheated gases and catastrophic smoke that they would have been exposed to if they’d stayed in the black.

            Elizabeth, what, exactly, are the sources you are relying on for making these assertions, namely 1) your assertion that GM had reason to think that their bushwhack would be “fine,” and 2) your continual assertions that staying committed to the black would have exposed GM to superheated gases and catastrophic smoke and (implicitly) that GM’s decision to move was motivated by this risk?

            Do you have ANY credible sources at all that support these views, or are you just saying these things?

            • Elizabeth says

              SR, did you mean to also type “by the way, sorry for being an asshole to you before?” If so, I am happy to answer you. If not, pound salt.

              • SR says

                Never was an asshole, so nothing to be sorry about. When you say things that show you obviously don’t have a grasp of some basics, it is the act of a friend to point that out. Particularly so when you have been looking at this event on a regular basis and still seem clueless as to basics. Even more so when you purport to be conducting a formal “investigation.” Imagine if you write some report talking about the Santa Ana winds at the YHF, and talking about how it would have taken GM at least HALF AS LONG to reverse and ascend the bowl as it did to descend. Let’s say it wouldn’t look good.

                Likewise, is does no favors to the families of the deceased to tell them some fiction about how GM prudently retreated from the SZ because of concern over superheated gases. And that, btw, they’ll have to accept whatever lousy compensation Prescott is offering. Maybe emotionally pleasant to say there were no serious, jarring mistakes here, but very cruel to those families.

                • Elizabeth says

                  You realize that RTS brought up the Santa Ana winds, not me, right? So you are calling Robert the Second clueless! Niiiiice.

                  And you realize that WTKTT is the one making all sorts of absurd claims about how fast someone can run UP a hill, not me, right?
                  Maybe reading for comprehension is where you might want to spend your time, rather than snarking at me, SR.

                  • SR says

                    No.

                    RTS said that dropping over a ridge can work as a SZ UNLESS you are dealing with gravity-fed winds like Santa Anas. He clearly knows exactly what they are. And never suggested that YHF involved Santa Anas. YOU however just stated a few minutes ago that you thought the Oss photos did show Santa Ana-like winds.

                    Likewise, you in fact did say you thought GM could reverse back uphill in half the time of the descent. WTKTT did agree with you, to be sure, but you put the idea out there.

                    Denying your clear words and claiming that it is my reading comprehension issue does you no credit.

                    • Elizabeth says

                      Reading for comprehension, I said: “You realize that RTS brought up the Santa Ana winds, not me, right?”

          • Bob Powers says

            What I saw and knew at the time and what Marsh said about Squarely winds on top before 1600 says they should have known they could not go down into a killing field with an out of control fire only 1 1/2 miles from where they were going. It is just basic Fire 101 a bad idea period. They should have said absolutely no to Cordes or any one else. It was just totally unsafe to do what they did and I believe they took the risk as they had many times before and this time it caught up with them.

            • Elizabeth says

              Bob, I disagree with you on all counts, at least at this point in time, based on the materials that I am currently reviewing. A couple of unnamed, anonymous guys saying that Marsh – who might not have even BEEN with the crew at 4:04 – was unsafe does not an investigation make, at least the way that I do investigations. Gary might be different. :)

            • Joy and Sonny says

              support this comment yet we seek to exhaust all angles as to how come…I mean, it just does not add up. For own peace, we would like clarity as to how come Helm’s remained a bomb proof safety zone and how come people want us to lock on to the weather factor only. We are not seeking blame or cover-up but we are open to show that hike in hopes one fits the puzzle together just right—because the homeowners’ accounts do not match to public reports and media accounts. Simple. No claims like Elizabeth states—we have no stakes or claims just our account that entire weekend. Which too many in the firefighter and smokejumper community who are independent thinkers or not—both sides—thank us for sharing our day because anyone who knows us knows Sonny is a desert isolated man and Joy does her hikes and meets/greets the locals on them and helps some too and ends her day before meeting Sonny jotting her hikes on her hiking page on zazzle. Not a book to be written just 2 live and let live free thinkers who are not programmed to believe what is being fed out there especially when we were THERE at the fire edge where the GMHS were as well watched the others Blue Ridge, Supervisors and other firefighters—and so far the people that were there that came to us say we are spot on AND do not forget we hiked it immediately upon return and our account never changed and alot is in the SAIR which compliments our account but there is some areas we feel there needs to be more said is all—like Sonny said earlier you don’t have to like us or what we say but how about the photos that are missing as well as the ones we shared already—they say it all. How about the homeowners’ accounts and photos. They say much more—so until it is all out there we will not settle on it being just the weather and that’s all.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to RTS post on March 20, 2014 at 9:46 am

      >> RTS said…
      >> My point was that dropping off the ridge toward Congress as
      >> Tex suggested was a very good idea and commonly used in
      >> the WFF world.

      No question. If they had exited the area the same way that
      Tex and Joy did… they would all be alive today.

      >> You’ll notice how the fire more-or-less petered out over the
      >> backside of the ridge.

      Yes. There WERE places where it ‘flared’ over the ridge
      before ‘petering’ out ( The Matt Oss video shows these
      specific points )… but see above. If they had exited the
      area the way Tex and Joy did… ( or just retreated farther
      into the cold black ) they would have been out of harm’s way
      by that time.

      >> Hopping over a ridgetop works as a good SZ unless you
      >> have strong gravity winds like Santa Anas that burn downhill
      >> as fast and intense as uphill. Gravity winds were not
      >> the case on the YHF.

      Correct. Didn’t happen.

      >> You mentioned how many of the boulders were not scorched
      >> and burned. Boulders do not make good SZ’s especially when
      >> they are surrounded by heavy fuel – thick brush in this case.
      >> So then, just because the boulders in these photos don’t show
      >> any/much evidence of scorch seems to be giving you a false
      >> sense of them being a safe alternative to a true SZ. Definitely
      >> not the case.

      Rest assured… I ( me, personally ) have no ‘false sense’ of
      the boulder piles being a GOOD ‘safety zone’ that afternoon…
      but we are talking about SURVIVABILITY here. I in no way
      intended to ‘re-ignite’ the debate about whether they should
      have scrambled into the rocks that day. They had NO GOOD
      options at 1639… but the one they chose was absurd and
      was an immediate death sentence… and they SHOULD
      have known that.

      All those photos show is that ONE of their only options at
      1639 *might* have been ‘survivable’.

      Personally… I think if they had scrambled to the rock piles…
      about half of them would have died… but (maybe) the other
      half would have found the ‘cave-like’ features that Tex himself
      has talked about and ( if they could have held their breath long
      enough and/or used their shelters as forward-facing shields )
      some of them *might* have made it… even with some
      pretty serious burns.

      There was nothing SAFE about it… but the photos show that
      there was a *chance* of ‘survivability’ up in those rocks.

      >> The green unburned islands you point out are very common
      >> on chaparral fires and should in no way be an indicator that
      >> one could either locate those and/or rely on those as vialbe
      >> SZ’s.

      Yes… but the ‘unique’ thing about those ‘unburned’ areas
      up around the anchor point shown in the July 4 aerial photos
      is that they were ALREADY ‘inside the black’.

      They WOULD have been able to ‘see’ them and ‘locate’ them.

      If they really had concerns about being ‘safe’… even in the
      middle of that extensive ( cold-black )… then these ‘visible’
      unburned areas could/should have presented themselves
      as yet ‘another’ option.

      There was enough ‘cold black’ up there for ANYONE who
      calls themselves a wildland firefighter to have felt ‘safe’
      by just utilizing it… so we are already in ‘la-la land’ here
      even discussing this… but stick with me for a moment.

      If they had NOT wasted 35 minutes ( 4:04 PM to 4:39 PM )
      hiking south, into a fuel-filled box canyon, and eventually
      right into a wall of flames… then they could have used
      those 35 minutes to TOTALLY ‘improve’ any of those
      unburned areas in the middle of the black into an
      ultimate safety/deployment site. A LOT of ‘clearing’ can
      be accomplished with 19 guys, 4 chainsaws, and 35
      minutes. If they really were worried that all that ‘black’
      wasn’t good enough… they could have turned even just
      that one ‘unburned’ area into a parking lot in under
      35 minutes… and it was 2/3 the size of the ‘bomb-proof’
      area they would ended up trying to hike towards, anyway.

      Again… this whole discussion is absurd since there was
      NO REASON for anyone who calls themselves a wildland
      firefighter NOT to have confidence in that ENORMOUS
      safe-black up there… but you made good points and
      I wanted to clarify my comments.

      I believe the fact that the aerial photos show those areas
      in the middle of the safe-black remaining ‘totally unburned’
      is just even MORE proof of how ‘safe’ that ‘safe-black’
      around the anchor point really was that afternoon.

      There was NO ‘flame length’ or ‘spotting’ that touched them,
      before, during, or after the 4:15 to 5:15 PM ‘firestorm’.

    • SR says

      Just noting for emphasis that RTS clearly (and correctly) states that gravity winds were NOT the case for the YHF.

    • SR says

      Just noting for emphasis that RTS clearly and correctly notes that gravity winds were NOT an issue for the YHF. In contrast, here’s Elizabeth: “When you say a Santa Ana-like event, I am assuming that the wind event documented in the Matt Oss photos is of that ilk, but perhaps I am misunderstanding…” I never called RTS clueless, and COMPLETELY AGREE that Santa Anas weren’t involved for the YHF. I need to say that because Elizabeth tried to claim I am somehow disagreeing with RTS, not her, on this point.

  27. Robert the Second says

    Tex and Joy,

    I have some questions regarding your March 19th posting. Are you suggesting that someone was doing a burnout operation from or in the vicinity of the Boulder Springs Ranch? I’ve read it several times and can’t seem to pinpoint just wherew you’re talking about.

    Also, the “Tim Dolan presentation” Who is the Tim Dolan you’re referring to here? And what, when, where was his “presentation”? And what was it about? Thanks

    • Elizabeth says

      RTS, the Tom Dolan video was the wind event video to which I provided a link on this thread. I believe I was berated by SR or maybe even you at that point regarding the video, but don’t quote me. It kind of runs together….

    • Joy and Sonny says

      RELY TO:Tex and Joy,

      I have some questions regarding your March 19th posting. Are you suggesting that someone was doing a burnout operation from or in the vicinity of the Boulder Springs Ranch? WE ARE NOT SUGGESTING IT YET WE ARE STATING THE VIDEO AND PHOTOS SHOWN BY PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY DO SHOW THAT AREA ON FIRE EARLIER THAN ANY REPORT OR MEDIA REPORTED YET AND I AM HAVING AN EXPERT CREDIBLE PERSON MAKING SURE THE TIME ON THE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS ARE SPOT ON. YET OUR QUESTION TO THE FIRE MANAGEMENT IF THEY READ THIS IS TO ANSWER THAT—HOW COME WE ARE SEEING AREAS ON FIRE IN AREA THE BURNOUT WAS BEING PREPARED FOR A BURN OUT. DID IT HAPPEN? THAT IS MY DIRECT QUESTION TO THE PEOPLE WHO FOUGHT THE FIRE THAT I KNOW COME HERE. I AM BEING SHOWN INFORMATION AND AT TIMES I SAY I WISH ONLY PEOPLE THAT WILL PUT THEIR NAME TO A DOCUMENT COME TO ME BUT I GET IT THAT PEOPLE HAVE TO DO WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO IN THEIR WAY SO IN THAT–OK BUT IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE FIRE COMMUNITY TO ACKNOWLEDGE THESE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS DO EXIST OUT THERE AND THEY SHOULD BE TALKING TO THE LOCALS AND EXPLAIN THAT DAY TO THEM—WE WILL DO OUR BEST IN EXPLAINING IT TO THEM BUT WE WILL ALWAYS FEEL WE CAN ONLY SHARE IT AS WE SEE IT—NO CHANGING ANY ACCOUNTS FROM THE DAY OF THE FIRE TO HOW PEOPLE CAME TO OUR LIVES—AND SO ON— I’ve read it several times and can’t seem to pinpoint just wherew you’re talking about.

      Also, the “Tim Dolan presentation” Who is the Tim Dolan you’re referring to here?HE DID A WEATHER PRESENTATION RECENTLY IN YARNELL AND HE IS OUT THERE TO EDUCATE THIS FIRE FROM A WEATHER STANDPOINT ONLY—HE HAS ALOT OF FIRE AND WEATHER HISTORY BUT HE TRIED TO SELL ME THAT THE WEATHER WAS THE SEAL ON THIS TRAGEDY AND AS I TELL ALL—I WILL ACCEPT THAT WHEN ALL AREAS HAVE BEEN LOOKED AT AND EXHAUSTED. And what, when, where was his “presentation”? And what was it about? Thanks

  28. Bob Powers says

    I would suggest everyone check PATTERN RECOGNITION article over on wild fire today. And read the two comments at the bottom. ” The Dead Zone” unburned fuel a training video about unburned fuel.

  29. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** DUANE STEINBRINK – THE FIRST PRESCOTT WILDLAND DIVISION CHIEF

    With regards to the (reliable) stories that are ( and have been for some time )
    surfacing about this tendency on Granite Mountain’s part to seem to feel the
    need to ‘one up’ everyone else around them ( even at their own peril )…

    …there is a name that hasn’t surfaced much (yet) that might have had a lot
    to do with this ‘mind set’ and/or ‘groupthink’.

    Darrell Willis was NOT the first “Wildland Division Chief” for the City of Prescott,
    nor was Willis the WDC when the idea to form the Granite Mountain Hotshots
    was first presented to the Prescott City Council and the existing ‘PFD Fuels
    Crew 7′ applied for ‘training status’ under the name ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’.

    The first “Wildland Division Chief” for the City of Prescott was actually a
    fellow named Duane Steinbrink.

    Duane is one of those that never had a word to say about Granite Mountain or the
    incident for pretty much all of 2013. He was pictured on the left side of Amanda
    Marsh ( with Darrell Willis on her right side ) in Amanda’s first public press
    conference following the incident… but Duane never had anything to say.

    All of a of a sudden ( as of a few weeks ago )… he’s talking to the press.

    The article below is basically this UK-based reporter’s attempt to ‘tell the real
    story’ ( like Kyle Dickman tried to do last year )… and the story is still based on
    a number of false assumptions ( like the lie in the SAIR that everyone thought
    Marsh meant a ranch to the north )…

    …but there are some interesting parts to this article such as quotes from Duane
    Steinbrink about the early ‘culture’ and ‘principles’ behind the Granite Mountain
    program and a fascinating (highly detailed) interview with Wade Parker’s parents.

    The Telegraph ( Telegraph Media Group – United Kingdom )
    Article: How Arizona’s firefighters were outflanked by an inferno
    By Mick Brown – 7:00AM GMT 31 Jan 2014

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10603025/How-Arizonas-firefighters-were-outflanked-by-an-inferno.html

    From the article.
    ________________________________________________________________
    ‘We’d have a lot of guys who’d come in all excited to get a job ( with Granite
    Mountain ), and then when they saw what they had to do they’d just wash out,’
    said Duane Steinbrink, a weather-beaten man in his early 60s who, as the
    wildland division chief for Prescott, was responsible for assembling the first
    Hotshot crew. ‘What made these guys so special was they had it in their mind
    that if you were in this crew they were going to be up on the top of the mountain
    before anybody else. They had to have better knowledge than any other crew;
    be fitter than any other crew; but the number-one priority – you have to be nice,
    no rotten apples in the barrel. They loved one another, and they protected one
    another. The only time there needed to be any real discipline was if someone
    was quitting on them.’
    ________________________________________________________________

    NOTE: It is now a known fact that there was, indeed, a ‘lot’ of ‘quitting on them’
    going on with ‘Granite Mountain’ from season to season. I think it’s been
    established that the ‘turnover’ rate for GM was higher than average ( for a
    Type 1 HS crew ) from season to season… and became critical for 2013 as
    they were about to hit the fire season ‘short handed’… and added some ‘quick
    hires’ ( Such as McKee and Percin, both total rookies ).

    The (possible) real reasons for this (seemingly) high turnover rate still haven’t
    been fully revealed.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup… another interesting Duane Steinbrick,
      Darrell Willis and ‘Eric Marsh’ moment.

      The following is the actual moment ( in 2008 ) when
      Prescott Wildland Division Chief Duane Steinbrick promoted
      Fuels Crew 7 member Eric Marsh to be the Superintendent
      of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

      There is a photo of the moment, along with an article.

      Darrell Willis is THERE ( in the photo ). He was still just the
      Emergency Services Coordinator for the City of Prescott
      ( hadn’t retired and started double-dipping yet )… but Willis
      did the actual ‘swearing in’ for all the new promotions.

      NONE of the other 4 firefighters also being ‘promoted’ to
      higher level positions within the ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’
      ( Lawson, Smith, McCarty, or Kauffman ) stayed with the GM
      program for very long after that.

      The Prescott Daily Courier – 5/24/2008 9:23:00 PM
      Article title: Elite firefighters
      http://www.dcourier.com/Main.asp?SectionID=102&ArticleID=55675

      From the article…
      _____________________________________________________
      The Prescott Fire Department held a badge-pinning ceremony
      for Granite Mountain Hot Shot crew members who were recently
      promoted. Promoted crew members were introduced by Prescott
      Fire Department Wildland Division Chief Duane Steinbrink, and
      were sworn into their new positions by Prescott Emergency
      Services Coordinator Darrel Willis.

      Sworn in were, from right to left in the photo,…

      Eric Marsh – Superintendent
      Aaron Lawson – Captain
      Sean Smith – Squad Boss
      Dan McCarty – Senior Firefighter
      Sean Kauffman – Senior Firefighter.

      The Granite Mountain Hot Shot Crew is the first municipal
      Type I crew in the nation.
      _____________________________________________________

    • Robert the Second says

      WTKTT,

      Ah yes, the high turnover rate of the GMHS. Do NOT discount the GMHS pattern of ‘bad decsions with prior good outcomes’ influencing any of the young WFF’s to not return to the GMHS.

      • Elizabeth says

        I have not found ANY empirical proof that GM had a higher turnover rate than that of any other crew. My view is that that is merely a rumor that has gotten legs due to people repeating it.

        Do you have data documenting comparisons of turnover rates on Hotshot crews so that we can figure out where GM fell on that spectrum? If so, could you tell us more about the data set and the comparisons?

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to RTS post on March 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        >> RTS wrote…
        >> Ah yes, the high turnover rate of the GMHS.
        >> Do NOT discount the GMHS pattern of ‘bad decsions
        >> with prior good outcomes’ influencing any of the young
        >> WFF’s to not return to the GMHS.

        Rest assured… no ‘discounting’ ( or even coupons )
        accepted here.

        I believe it ALL ‘ties together’.

        Example: On the same night in 2008 when Darrell Willis
        ‘swore in’ Eric Marsh as the (first and only) Superintendent
        for the *new* Granite Mountain Hotshots… he also swore
        in Aaron Lawson as the first ‘Captain’.

        From what I can discover… this was the same sort of
        ‘dream come true’ for Lawson as it was for Marsh.

        Yet… just two seasons in… Lawson quits.

        Aaron Lawson is the one who recruited Christopher
        MacKenzie onto the GM squad and the only thing he
        has ever had to say publicly about the Yarnell
        incident was a quick comment about Christopher
        being able to ‘lighten up any situation’ when a reporter
        caught him at Christopher’s funeral in California.

        Right after Lawson went out of his way to recruit
        people he knew ( like Christopher ) onto the GM squad…

        …Lawson suddenly walks away from GM ( and his own
        dream(s)? )

        I’d still like to know what happened there ( with Lawson ).

        • Elizabeth says

          My understanding is that Marsh had a “betrayal” by one of his captains, who then left, but I have no idea which captain that would be. What a “betrayal” means is not something I looked into, either, in part because, again, I do not care. (Maybe the guy slept with Marsh’s wife or maybe the guy stole Marsh’s puppy – I neither know nor care. I am only sharing this info b/c, if that betrayer was Lawson, then that would suggest that he did not leave for safety issues.)
          It is entirely possible that that betrayer was Lawson, or, for all we know, Lawson might have been the guy who left for a better position. Remember that the Hotshot pay was generally sucky, as Marsh and Willis went back-and-forth on, as I recall.
          How ’bout you CALL or e-mail Lawson and ask him directly why he left, rather than engage in speculation about the safety practices of a DEAD guy? (It is kind of unfair to speculate about a dead guy or multiple guys if we include Steed, no?)

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            I offered no ‘speculation’ at all about why
            Captain Lawson might have suddenly
            left Granite Mountain.

            YOU did.

            Sleeping with someone’s wife?
            Stealing puppies?

            Very creative, counselor. VERY creative.

            >> Elizabeth also said…
            >> How ’bout you CALL or e-mail Lawson
            >> and ask him directly why he left,

            Got a phone number or an email address?

            >> rather than engage in speculation about
            >> the safety practices of a DEAD guy?

            When that particular DEAD guy appeared
            to be violating EVERY established ‘safety’
            procedure in the book related to his
            profession…

            …you damn betcha I’m going to ‘speculate’
            about whether that was something he was
            in the habit of doing… or NOT.

  30. Elizabeth says

    Am I correct that it is generally not viewed as optimally safe to be on TOP of a hill (perhaps at the edge of a box canyon) with a bunch of dry, robust green below you and pretty tall flame lengths, because you risk being killed by the smoke or inhaling super-heated gasses as the fire burns up towards you, even if it never reaches you? Thank you in advance.

    • Bob Powers says

      If you are talking about GM then the answer is NO. They were in black and could have moved to the top of the Mountain at any time, to more black SZ Would they have got smoke and heat yes, but they would have only been uncomfortable and could have moved easily to the top and more black and out of the heat.
      They were in black and 150 to 200 ft. from the fire line. Again with 400 Acers of burned area behind them.
      Elizabeth–By moving back from the edge they would be safe.
      Example–Storm King Mountain Those on top moved back and the survivor that got to the top survived, he got some burns before he reached the top.

        • Tex and Joy here says

          Tex: even if they were at the top as we were then had the smoke and heat headed our way we could immediately drop off the ridge into the black on the Congress side or even the green as that is what we did that day.
          Joy: My concern lately is the information and documents being shown to me and I appreciate the viewings deeply and I am sorry to many that I used Y O U to have you speak up yet it takes a name and document to properly assess this not me saying this or that and some of you and you do know who you are and the number is growing—have some important information to give this fire clarity. I asked the questions public because in Tom Dolan’s presentation and many have said over time about this “preparing for burnout”—How come it STOPPED there. What happen to that burnout. We watched you do the preparation from the mountain top and we saw all the activity yet we never saw the fire yet that does not mean it did not happen because the GMHS did a burn in a blinded area that day from our view and its possible with all those boulders but to SEE some of these videos and photos in 2014 shown with expectation I do not share who, what, where—got that but it’s heavy to SEE you have a fire evidence between 3:33-4pm that has not been seen in any report or media and for that it is IMPORTANT for people to put their name and stuff out yet I GET the sensitivity of it beyond just your careers and such—I do understand where you are coming from and again sorry for how some felt a guilt when they read it here and came to me out of guilt. Yet I am glad you came. Jimmy, just waiting on that photo of yours and that will seal this and I know you are okay with me stating your name and thank you for gathering your photo(s) so I can finally show one public. So, if the burn out was done. Why? I mean, that was some squirrelly winds that day? I had kestrel readings and temps. and without weather updates like these men got YOU COULD SEE from Prescott the storm as well the cell from the east—I will always want to SEE some more folks from the AIR coming forward with photos to SHOW US the public how that fire went from heading to Peeples Valley with that late day retardant drop even being laid to the least residential area of the Ustow It/Maughan Ranch Feed Store and then have a fierce fire from the Shrine to Sesame area where I have seen photos of that area on fire between 3:33-4:18pm mark spotted—why is it people can whisper, whisper, whisper around these small towns but no one can speak up and really help YOU all everywhere to get this properly assessed.

        • SR says

          Elizabeth,

          Have you looked at a map yet? Have you given thought to SZ geometry at all yet? It is frustrating when you continually make assertions, or post questions that are implicitly assertions, to the effect that GM had no choice but to move…when it seems you either have not looked at a map or have not done some basic research. If you have done those things and just aren’t getting it, maybe explain what your stumbling block is?

          At Storm King, those in adequate SZs survived. Had GM stayed put at the YHF and found that they were at the edge of the SZ as the fire was approaching, they could WALK AWAY from the edge of the SZ and from the flames (and corresponding heat) of the fire.

          They traded in the very large area they had to work with as a SZ, for in essence immersing themselves for a long period of time in that dry green that you suggest scared them off the ridge.

        • Bob Powers says

          The edge or top of the hill was less than 100 yards behind them the Helispot was on top. As marsh said working off the top. Or where Marsh and Frisby met. lots of black. They were above the green by 150 ft. plus, or the hand line. They were safe in my book and not in any danger in the BLACK. There was a top of the mountain with more and more Black.

          • Bob Powers says

            Went back to check original fire map at 1300 topographic map. from there lunch spot to where the fire started 300 Ft. walk you are then on the ridge line and can move back along the top of the fire witch at that time was 1800 acres in size very large SZ take your choice and sit it out.

            • SR says

              Apologies for belaboring the obvious, but also their ability to walk back and forth, and choose where in that very large space they wanted to be at a given point, was basically unencumbered. They were not committed to a small space where the requirements for a SZ might be met for 30 foot flame heights but where 40 foot flame heights, with the flames hot and blowing sideways, would be too much.

              I get the sense that Elizabeth is getting contacted directly by people who are putting forth a variety of theories about how Marsh rightly concluded that with the (anticipated) change in weather and extreme fire behavior that the safest thing was to get off the mountain. If that is the case, certainly I understand that a version of one of these theories might be comforting. But, based upon what we do know about Marsh’s own assessment of where GM was, I still have seen nothing to suggest that Marsh even subjectively had a last-minute change of heart about the safety of where he and his crew were.

              To further belabor the obvious, WERE Marsh to have had such a subjective change of heart or view, the route he and GM took probably was the most dangerous way down that didn’t involve intentionally walking towards the fire. It would necessarily expose the crew to a sustained period of much higher risk, while they lost the ability to monitor fire behavior, and with the ability to high-tail back up the hill effectively lost once they were far enough down into the bowl. Again, looking at a map, or as RTS rightly points out based on Marsh having had the ability to scout throughout the day, there were other options available if simply getting off of the mountain, but with the least exposure to risk, were the goal.

              • Bob Powers says

                I totally agree. I go back to my first impression what the hell—Why with the fire activity would you move from the burned area SZ. Then walk down into a brush field with no SZ to get to quickly.

    • Robert the Second says

      Elizabeth,

      You are NOT correct in your generally optimal view. Hilltops and ridges make excellent places to seek refuge.

      I think you need to get some new WFF advisors because the one(s) you have are giving you some fairly bogus, off-the-wall leads, advice, etc. to follow. Your former HS Supterintendent? advisor must have been on the Milk Toast HS Crew to be giving this kind of advice OR not on a Crew at all.

      Clear and simple – the GMHS was in a perfectly good, black, solid SZ. Only an idiot would take refuge and/or place a SZ at the top of a chute or chimney or bowl. That’s basic WFF training there.

      Marsh had solid black all over the top of the Weaver Mountains. Bob Powers, and TTWARE, and evenTex understand all this good ER and/or SZ quite well, including bailing off the ridgetop down toward Congress. Just review the helicopter photos from the dropbox link that WTKTT posted below.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to RTS post on March 19, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        >> RTS said…
        >>
        >> Elizabeth,
        >> Just review the helicopter photos from the dropbox
        >> link that WTKTT posted below.

        Reposting part of that message to save the scrolling
        and since it’s directly relevant to THIS message thread.

        LARGE PORTIONS OF THE SAFE BLACK
        NEVER EVEN BURNED AT ALL THAT DAY.

        Look in the following (public) folder on Mr.
        Dougherty’s dropbox site…

        A42-Aerial Video and Photos Mayhew
        https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7b7asvh6ptdavbr/FixOl2n6pI

        269 super highres aerial photos taken on
        July 4, 2013, just 4 days after the Yarnell tragedy.

        Photos in that folder clearly show an area the size
        of a SOCCER field… still totally GREEN and totally
        unburned… right in the MIDDLE of the ‘previously burned’ area near the anchor point.

        That’s how SAFE that SAFETY ZONE really
        was that afternoon.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Speaking of ‘options’ and things that ‘never even
          burned at all’ that afternoon…

          …the same Dropbox full of aerial photos above
          has at least 60 or 70 highres closeup photos
          that show clearer than anything else I’ve seen
          how the tops ( and sides ) of the boulder piles
          right near the deployment site never burned at all.

          Even on July 4, just 3 days after the burnover,
          there is CLEARLY still ‘green vegetation’ ( trees,
          bushes, etc. ) still showing on both the SIDES
          and the TOP of those boulder piles… and HUGE
          areas not even showing any ‘scorch marks’.

          Those areas were/are just a few hundred feet
          ( not yards ) away from the deployment site.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Followup to the post above about the huge
          area ( near the anchor point ) in the middle of
          the already cold ‘safe’ black that remained totally
          UNBURNED that day, even after the firestorm.

          The following answers two questions about it…

          1) How far away was it from a KNOWN point in
          the already cold-safe black, such as, the spot
          where Frisby and Brown met with Marsh and
          Steed for that first ‘face to face’.

          2) How LARGE was that ‘unburned’ area, really?,
          and how did it compare with the actual size
          of the ‘bomb-proof’ Boulder Springs Ranch
          main clearing itself?

          ** ACTUAL LOCATION AND DIMENSIONS OF
          ** THE UNBURNED AREA IN THE MIDDLE OF
          ** THE ALREADY SAFE BLACK

          The actual spot where the Blue Ridge UTV Ranger
          stopped for 33 minutes while Frisby and Brown
          first met with Marsh and Steed up in the already
          cold ‘safe black’ that day is here ( according to
          Brown’s GPS unit )…

          34.226977, -112.789528

          The distance from that ‘meeting location’ walking
          NORTH on the two-track road to the SOUTH side
          of the totally unburned area in the middle of the
          safe black was only… 702 feet. ( 2 NFL football
          fields + end zones = 720 feet ).

          So how BIG was that unburned area, really?

          NOTE: 1 acre = 43,560 square foot

          UNBURNED AREA COORDINATES
          NE corner – 34.228758, -112.791030
          SE corner – 34.228212, -112.790816
          SW corner – 34.227924, -112.791336
          NW corner – 34.228554, -112.791422

          UNBURNED AREA SIDES ( FOOTAGE )
          NE corner to SE corner = 210.021 feet
          SE corner to SW corner = 188.714 feet
          SW corner to NW corner = 237.105 feet
          NW corner to NE corner = 142.253 feet

          Total square footage of the unburned area inside
          the ‘safe black’ = 29,897.06 feet ( 0.68 acres )

          That’s almost 2/3 the size ( 65 percent ) of the
          entire ‘bomb-proof’ Boulder Springs Ranch main
          clearing.

          BOULDER SPRINGS RANCH
          MAIN CLEARING CORNERS
          NE – 34.219700, -112.770710
          SE – 34.218600, -112.770812
          SW – 34.218698, -112.771520
          NW – 34.219677, -112.771509

          BOULDER SPRINGS RANCH
          MAIN CLEARING SIDES ( FOOTAGE )
          NE corner to SE corner = 399.719 feet
          SE corner to SW corner = 215.827 feet
          SW corner to NW corner = 358.122 feet
          NW corner to NE corner = 251.127 feet

          Total square footage of Boulder Springs
          Ranch main clearing = 46,611.63 ( 1.001 acres ).

  31. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** KORI KIRKPATRICK TALKS ABOUT ERIC MARSH

    Kori Kirkpatrick, Eric Marsh’s former wife, has never really spoken in public
    since the Yarnell incident… but she is quoted in an article that appeared
    last week in the Prescott Daily Courier.

    The ‘Arizona Wildfire Academy’ ( AWA ) took place last week in Prescott,
    ( as it does each year ), with a near-record 708 students from 29 different
    states attending the classes this year.

    Kori Kirkpatrick and Eric Marsh ( and Don Howard, Darrell Willis and others )
    started this ‘Arizona Widlfire Academy’ in Prescott.

    Kirkpatrick herself is ‘quoted’ in this article about last week’s AWA, and
    she mentions her former-husband, Eric Marsh.

    Life-or-death lessons: Hotshots were vital to Wildfire Academy
    By Joanna Dodder Nellans – 3/7/2014 6:00:00 AM
    The Prescott Daily Courier

    http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubsectionID=1&ArticleID=129272

    From the article…
    _________________________________________________________________
    After talking about the idea of a statewide wildland firefighting academy for
    a few years, Don Howard was determined to make it a reality when the
    Rodeo-Chediski wildfire struck in 2002 and became the largest wildfire
    in Arizona’s history.

    Organizers chose Kori Kirkpatrick as the academy’s first coordinator.

    Working on a shoestring budget, she conducted business at home with the
    frequent help of her husband Eric Marsh. He had landed a job on the Prescott
    Fire Department’s new fuels mitigation crew and would go on to help create
    the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew as its first and only superintendent.

    “Eric’s passion and contribution to the academy was huge, just huge,” Kirkpatrick said. He also taught the basic wildland firefighting class for several years and later taught advanced courses.

    “It was all about teaching them how to do it right, how to do it safely and come home at night,” Kirkpatrick added. She left the academy coordinator position after five years, about the same time she and Marsh divorced.

    Tony Sciacca took over the Arizona Wildfire Academy coordinator position.
    _________________________________________________________________

    NOTE: Tony Sciacca was the ‘line safety officer’ who was ‘clocked in’ and
    fully on-duty at the Yarnell Hill Fire as early as 1500 ( 3:00 PM ) on
    June 30, 2013. ( One hour and forty minutes before the deployment ).

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup…

      Also ( as usual )… there was the annual Arizona Wildfire
      Academy ‘banquet’ at the Prescott Resort last week.

      Brendan McDonough was there ( along with Eric’s wife
      Amanda ) to accept the annual “Herb McElwee” loyalty
      award on behalf of Eric Marsh and the Granite Mountain
      Hotshots.

      Gary Cordes was also there to receive his AWA “Firefighter
      of the Year” award for ‘rescuing residents’ at the Yarnell Fire.

      Article: Hotshots Boost Wildfire Academy Banquet
      Donations To An All-time High
      By Joanna Dodder Nellans – 3/13/2014 6:00:00 AM
      The Prescott Daily Courier

      http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=129485&TM=60610.07

      From the article…
      _____________________________________________________
      The academy’s Firefighter of the Year award went to Central Yavapai Fire District Training Officer Gary Cordes for helping to rescue Yarnell residents from the same Yarnell Hill wildfire June 30 that killed 19 of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. He was the Yarnell structure group supervisor on the blaze, and said he shared the award with others who helped that day.

      The banquet opened with a half-hour memorial service for the 36 U.S. wildland firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2013
      ( including the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots ). It included an honor guard, reading of the names of the fallen, and the playing of Taps.

      Eric Marsh’s wife Amanda and the lone surviving Granite Mountain Hotshot, Brendan McDonough, accepted the 2nd annual Herb McElwee (loyalty) award for all 20 of the Granite Mountain
      Hotshots.

      “I want to say thank you to this group for loving Eric so much,” Amanda Marsh told the crowd.

      “It’s been a great honor to be called a Hotshot,” added McDonough, who now has a job helping other wildland firefighters with PTSD. “Thank you, God bless your families this season and kick some (butt).”
      _____________________________________________________

  32. mike says

    This current thread has got to be absolutely brutal for the families to read or hear, but if it is the truth, it is what it is. Right now, I doubt many would agree with what has been laid out, but in time some might come to accept it. And then they may wonder why more was not done and why their loved one had to die.

    So before we hand out kudos and declare victory, I think a question needs to be asked. If what brought to light is true and this “could be seen from a mile away”, why did the fire community allow him to continue in his job and lead a crew? Safety is the #1 priority of the wildland community and everyone is supposed to come home, but a man who was recklessly and serially violating basic safety principles was allowed to lead 19 men. And then get 18 of them killed. I understand about the counseling, which is a good first step, but apparently people knew he would not listen and it wasn’t working. When he continued to do this, maybe some IC should have sent his tail home to Prescott with a very stern note. After all, he led a hotshot crew for 4 years plus. People will say “it wasn’t my job, it wasn’t my crew” and I agree it wasn’t really the place of the other crew bosses to deal with. But there were a lot of others who could have. And 18 good men who didn’t have to die is a pretty steep price for inaction.

    Maybe the most important lessons learned from this tragedy will have nothing to do with what took place on Yarnell Hill on June 30, 2013.

    • Robert the Second says

      Mike,

      I assure you what’s being posted here is the truth, and yes, it is what it is. And the truth is often very difficult for many to accept, especially when it involves those close to you. I declare no victory here, and I am quite demure to the kudos. I will always press for the truth, especially in WFF fatalities such as the YHF.

      I believe it was Winston Churchill that said “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”

      As I posted way back when here, I’m very angry about what happened as are many other WFF supervisors, because it was totally, unequivocally avoidable. I am mad at those responsible and also very sad for the familes, friends, and loved ones of those that died June 30th. We did what we could as peers to head this off, and some may have gone to Marsh’s supervisor(s) with these concerns. But in the long run, it didn’t matter.

      But remember, that those GMHS knew, or should have known, what they were doing (or about to do) that day was absolutely wrong, based on the tried-and-trued WFF ‘Rules.’ And yet they apparently conceded to their actions in spite of everything they knew to the contrary. I contend that Groupthink in one form or another was alive and well that day and contributed to the fatal outcome. And this is listed in the IRPG as one of the Hazardous Attitudes in the Leadership section.

      Whenever there are ‘talking points’ THEY are trying to hide something. I have asked those in the Public (Dis)information realm how long they are going to continue to deny that Marsh did anything wrong which resulted in the June 30th tragedy. The answers are usually ‘it’s going to take some time.’ Really?

      • mike says

        RTS – I think you are a straight shooter and I give great weight to what you have to say. But, given Marsh’s irresponsible nature, the deaths were only preventable if he was corrected or removed. If he couldn’t be corrected, he needed to be removed. The argument might be made that could not be done. The point is it should have. What is going to happen when the next Eric Marsh comes along?

        Gary Olsen has already expounded on how hotshot supers are looked on as near deities by their crews. You do what they say. And several of the crew were rookies, in fact I think it was the first fire for one. Yes the squad bosses and Steed should have spoken up, much harder for the new guys.

        As I said above, eventually some families might not agree that all was done. But, in the end, nothing will bring those men back. It is for the next time that I think this situation deserves a very hard look.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to mike post on March 17, 2014 at 10:26 pm

          >> mike said…
          >> It is for the next time that I think this situation
          >> deserves a very hard look.

          No question. The HARDEST ‘look’ possible.

          >> mike also said…
          >> And several of the crew were rookies, in fact I
          >> think it was the first fire for one.

          You may be referring to 21 year old Grant McKee.

          It wasn’t his ‘first fire’… but definitely his ‘first
          season’ with GM and the first time he’d done
          anything of the sort.

          Robert Caldwell was Grant’s cousin and got him
          onto the GM crew for the 2013 season when
          GM ended up short some people right before the
          start of the fire season.

          Grant only joined GM in April… just 3 months
          before the tragedy.

          Grant had NO intentions of becoming a career
          WFF person. He was only helping out for this
          one season, while they were short, and then
          he was going to continue to pursue his real
          passion of becoming an EMT.

          • mike says

            I checked, it was John Percin’s 2nd fire with the GMHS (he was so new he was not even in the tree picture from the Doce fire).

        • Tex and Joy here says

          Mike, if you are stating a history account of Marsh; appreciated- fine. Yet on this fire there is no evidence shown YET publicly that Marsh directed Steed and crew to go that way and it there is no proof public YET that even shows Marsh was with the crew or was first there or last. Everyone needs to understand there is no proof publicly shown yet but that does not mean there is not some coming. We are waiting right this second to receive 3 sets of photos as we type this on the fire between 3-5pm. More folks seem to want to come to us privately and we accept that yet we always encourage the IMPORTANCE to putting the documentation with the original sourced names not us posting their accounts. I know as time people are sharing to us because the men dying and many peoples’ lives were affected from that weekend and our character is intact as reliable and we do not gossip and we are straight shooters seeking the truth. I want it to be known Mike anyone can say Marsh was this or that on prior fires— wonderful but no one yet can publicly with proof state Marsh’s actions or Steed’s or the fire managements- and in His time the truth will happen—I think many people who have read this page have been pleased there is a “place to go” to either read or comment. This has helped many heal and we appreciate EVERYONE on here.

          • Bob Powers says

            I am sorry Joy I wish it were different but Marsh and the crews actions and lake of giving information clear and precise along with breaking every rule in the book fits what we are now being told, and I believe answers the WHY they moved and went down into unburned fuel. It is every Fire Supervisors night mare to have a crew working outside the rules and hiding or canceling there decisions. Past issues explained a lot about that day. I morn the loss of all 19 the decisions made that day cost them there lives and nothing can change that.

            • Tex and Joy here says

              Bob Powers-
              you coming to Arizona? I will show you some of the folks we have seen photos from—some; a lot are sensitive on topic and do not want to see anyone—and you will see this may not be a label of saying it was the men’s’ final decision to go in the boxed canyon and maybe something not yet brought out—Mike spoke about Marsh’s history but that would be like that silly man Shaun McKinnon who was to work on some retractions to have family concerns to never hearing from again almost 4 months later. He said things about Tex (Sonny) as well as he narrated his own account of our day that day- we never came from Congress and never said that. Also the article was on GMHS so why even talk about Tex being a bourbon hound. Geez, human factor and human perceptions on facts can become narrative at times and all I am stating is HELL YES it is way ODD from a person who hiked it for almost a decade as to WHY did these men even GO THAT WAY versus STAY IN THE BLACK but there may be an element not yet presented so let us not make a judgment of their actions until all facts are presented. I can share as the librarian here in town can too—there is a lot of folks who will come to me or some to vent but will not go public. We need to publicly piece this puzzle and in His time it will-
              I understand EVERY point you make from a firefighter stand but keep in mind the report and media has collaborated and gathered and narrated and have not gave it real and raw YET—in due time…many people will not let this be brushed under the rug and MANY people have no agendas too.

              • Bob Powers says

                Tex thanks for the invite. I live in southern Idaho. and at 70 my knees would play hell with that kind of hike. I use my horses to take me to the high country and an occasional ATV ride. I rely on RTS an old friend to keep me up on what he has seen and learned. It is never easy to accept that your loved ones made mistakes but it will come in time.

          • Robert the Second says

            Tex and Joy,

            I suggest you go back to RTS’ original March 15 and 16 posts and that may help to better understand where Mike is coming from.

      • WFF says

        I take issue with Safety being the number one priority. It is the number one proiroty at the ground level, but for others it is a disclaimer to avoid liability. We all know that. There are exceptions at each level, but there are plenty examples. I know of a IHC sup right now that has recieved letters from T-1 IC about his conduct and has accousted at least one crewmeber in a drunkin rage and retained his position. Its common knowledge on his forest and in the R3 IHC world. I had someone who worked for me mention it a month ago. I was amazed, but I shouldn’t have been, I’ve known this man and he is a hothead. I have worked with and for teams that have personnel in positions because of longevity or the buddy system who were making strateigc and tactical decisions. And we knew they weren’t strong firefighters. Being supprised that this could have taken place or even be posible means we’ve been fooling ourselves. I, also ,know what happens when you stand up for what is right, I’ve watched people loose careers for having integrity. Everyone of us knows this, I doubt anyone wanted this possibility to be possible. But we have all seen this kind of thing. I argued that there maybe no smoking gun and hoped that was right. I’m greatly saddened for everyone that this could be true.

        • Robert the Second says

          WFF,

          I believe I know of the Superintendent you refer to here. If it’s the same one, and I think it is, he practices ‘Chaos Theory.” As WFF, we are supposed to make order and organization from chaos, not the other way around. I and others consider him a Watch Out.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to mike post on March 17, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      >> mike said…
      >> This current thread has got to be absolutely brutal for the
      >> families to read or hear, but if it is the truth, it is what it is.

      Agreed.

      There is ( at this time ) no reason to doubt any of the new information that RTS has posted… and that is really, really sad.

      >> mike also said…
      >> Right now, I doubt many would agree with what has been
      >> laid out, but in time some might come to accept it.

      Some will NEVER accept that there may have been a *known*
      pattern of willful ‘reckless endangerment’ being practiced by an
      employee of a municipal fire department ( and being imposed on
      part-time, low-paid, seasonal employees ) which *may* be
      the primary reason 19 good men died.

      And rightly so.

      If that is the truth… it IS, in fact, UNACCEPTABLE behavior,
      and if there is ANYTHING similar going on ANYWHERE else
      in Hotshot crews or the WFF business at large… it needs to be
      discovered and SHUT DOWN… RIGHT NOW… before more
      good men die.

      >> they may wonder why more was not done and why their
      >> loved one had to die.

      Yes, they may… and rightly so.

      >> mike also wrote…
      >> So before we hand out kudos and declare victory…

      I still think RTS deserves at least simple ‘thanks’ for ‘sticking
      with it’ AND having the courage to share information…

      …but there is no ‘victory’ here.

      There never will be.

      There will only ever be the truth, as best as it can be known.

      >> mike also wrote…
      >> I think a question needs to be asked. If what brought to light
      >> is true and this “could be seen from a mile away”, why did the
      >> fire community allow him to continue in his job and lead
      >> a crew?

      Because (obviously) the WFF ‘fire community’ ( and the
      ‘culture’ itself ) is NOT ( yet ) designed to handle this sort
      of thing like other commonn workplace environments.

      I have worked construction. Many years.

      There were many (similar) times when a certain crew was
      trying to make a ‘name’ for themselves and would do reckless
      things on the job-site trying to ‘prove’ themselves. Even after
      they became ‘accepted’ and would get regular work… the
      pattern was already set by the crew boss. They continued
      to do risky, out-of-bounds things and remained a danger to
      themselves and anyone working with them.

      The ‘industry’ had a way to handle that.

      We ( the other crews ) filed written complaints to the area
      contracting agencies and said that if some action was not
      taken we would refuse to work any job site they were working.

      That fixed it.

      That crew was notified of the complaints…. told they would
      no longer get any work if they didn’t ‘get safe’… so they did.

      If that process is NOT as easily available to the the WFF
      industry… then it’s time it was implemented.

      >> mike also wrote
      >> Safety is the #1 priority of the wildland community and
      >> everyone is supposed to come home, but a man who was
      >> recklessly and serially violating basic safety principles was
      >> allowed to lead 19 men. And then get 18 of them killed.
      >> I understand about the counseling, which is a good first step,
      >> but apparently people knew he would not listen and it wasn’t
      >> working.

      If that wasn’t working… then more action was needed.

      See above. Refusal to work fires with them would have
      been the next step.

      >> mike also wrote…
      >> When he continued to do this, maybe some IC should have
      >> sent his tail home to Prescott with a very stern note.

      Well… at the MOMENT… we don’t actually *know* whether
      that DID happen… or not. Maybe it did ( or something similar like
      ‘performance evaluations/concerns’ being sent on a back-channel
      to the Prescott Wildland Division Chief ).

      There is much more to learn here.

      >> mike also wrote…
      >> After all, he led a hotshot crew for 4 years plus. People will
      >> say “it wasn’t my job, it wasn’t my crew” and I agree it wasn’t
      >> really the place of the other crew bosses to deal with.

      That is EXACTLY what ( most ) of their co-workers will say
      ( and have, indeed, already said so ).

      >> But there were a lot of others who could have. And 18 good
      >> men who didn’t have to die is a pretty steep price for inaction.

      Yes, it is.

      See above. The WFF industry needs to take a hard look at
      itself at this point.

      >> mike also said…
      >> Maybe the most important lessons learned from this tragedy
      >> will have nothing to do with what took place on Yarnell Hill
      >> on June 30, 2013.

      I don’t think the WFF ‘business’ is ever going to lose the
      more-than-quasi military culture coupled with almost the
      same ‘rivalry’ culture as professional sports teams enjoy
      ( a very BAD combination of ‘cultures’ )…

      …but if it is discovered that this kind of *locker room talk* was
      NOT making it up to management so they even had a chance
      to address what amounts to an (ongoing?) DANGEROUS and
      LIFE-THREATENING situation for some of the innocent
      ‘players’ in ‘the game’…

      …that needs to be FIXED toot-sweet.

      • mike says

        I used “accept” meaning believing it was the truth, not saying it was alright. Other than that, all I can say is AMEN.

        I have got to believe that if GM had ever got sent home early from a fire due to unsafe practices, we would know about it by now. But then again, maybe not???

        • Bob Powers says

          I would first hope and believe had GM been an FS crew I do not believe that Marsh’s behavior would have lasted as long as it did. The internal grape vine would have caught up with him. I have seen that happen in the past especially with in Regions. Superintendents talk to there supervisors who talk to other supervisors and things change internally. Being a non federal crew stopped that chain. I tend to believe that Willis as there supervisor had to have known some of the problems, just my guess.
          This in no way reflects on my hart felt sadness for the deaths of all and my sorrow for the families and friends of those lost.
          It was preventable and should have been dealt with inside or outside the crew, That is the real problem.

          • Bob Powers says

            The other problem is that Steed must have bought into the process through his training under Marsh. No one willing to challenge it when all there lives were at stake. Ingrained behavior of the entire crew that is the sad part.

  33. Gary Olson says

    I have invested so much time in this thread, so I guess I owe it a little more than just unilaterally declaring victory and going home. So here it is…just my opinion on this opinion blog.

    Every investigator has to make a judgment call(s) in the course of an investigation right or wrong…and then let the chips fall where they may. Either the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes the case or they don’t, either the opposing counsel cuts a deal or they don’t, and then either the jury finds them guilty or they don’t.

    And in this case, we don’t have the ability to gather our own facts, conduct our own interviews (most importantly), examine the evidence we collected first hand, and in general conduct an independent investigation, so we are pretty limited…so I don’t think this investigation is ever going to get any better.

    Bob Powers credentials have clearly been established beyond reproach. I believe Bob Powers when he has repeatedly vouched for RTS and that he trained him and they worked together for years. And I believe RTS works on or very near the Prescott National Forest and he may still a hotshot and may have been on the hotshot crew boss staff ride or is very close to the hotshots who were. For example, RTS has a lot of insider information regarding past fires on the Prescott National Forest and the past actions of Division Z (Marquez).

    I happen to believe RTS about Eric Marsh and his reckless actions, RTS has had the same theme since the very beginning, he just finally gave up the particulars for whatever reason and it fits the facts in my opinion. I believe RTS when he says the group of hotshot superintendents collectively condemned Eric Marsh’s past behavior and collectively believe Eric Marsh deliberately took such a reckless and knowingly led his crew into harm’s way due to this arrogance, stubbornness, and his desire to one-up everyone else (Blue Ridge this time) and show he had the best hotshot crew.

    I also think all of the information about the crews future being on the line and their need to prove their worth in helping to evacuate Yarnell and to engage in structure (if possible) fed into his decision to try and “beat the train.”

    And I think Darrell Willis knew all about Eric Marsh’s past tactics and behavior and he not only approved of them, but he encouraged Eric to do those things to prove how good the Granite Mountain Hotshots were on a regular basis to enhance his reputation the glory of the Prescott Fire Department.

    Like I said in my post, I think there are some more blanks that can be filled in on some of the details. And I still think Darrell Willis strongly suggested to Eric Marsh he should take the assignment for all of the previous reasons named, but in the end, it was Eric Marsh’s call and his apparent history of reckless behavior and taking excessive risk caught up with him. And as a result, he killed himself and his crew.

    I think I have stood by and defended Eric Marsh as much or more so than anyone else, but I have to accept the facts. Eric Marsh was in charge of the Granite Mountain Hotshots either as Division A Supervisor or still acting as the crew boss even though Jesse Steed was officially in that job.

    I just happen to now believe, based on my experience, training, and education and the information that has been presented in this thread that the answer to “Why did the Granite Mountain Hotshots die?” is because Eric Marsh killed them with his rash, impulsive, arrogant, and reckless decision to break almost all of the rules at the same time. But…I can still mourn the loss of his life.

    Finally, I think we can all agree that I never would have been investigating this case from the beginning. I am to emotionally involved, far from objective, and I reached my own conclusions in the beginning after listening to Darrell Willis say so many stupid things (in my opinion).

    I am going to continue to monitor this thread as time allows and I hope I am eventually proven wrong and there are other ways found to “explain the inexplicable.”

  34. Robert the Second says

    Here’s some revelations on GMHS habits regarding radio communications and stealth GMHS movements from a former GMHS.

    The former GMHS said that Marsh was adamant about a form of ‘under-the-radar’ radio procedure. He said that Marsh wanted only 3-4 radios to be scanning the TAC channel(s) with only those guys speaking on TAC. All others were to be scanning and talking ONLY on the Crew Net.

    Regarding the stealth movements. he said that Marsh did not want anyone (overhead) to know what they were doing or where they were. Marsh made a MAJOR TACTICAL MOVEMENT on June 30th when they all abandoned their perfectly good SZ and never really informed anyone outright. It was always on the sly, partial truths, with little or no details.

    Which leads to their (Marsh) June 30th disengenuous (coy) behavior and radio transmissions actions, intentions, location(s), and the like. I allege that Marsh was never forthright that day on any of these subjects.

    Consider the radio transmissions with Air Attack and/or Bravo 33. Even though it seemed obvious to me that Marsh wanted them to act as a lookout for the GMHS and/or seek advice and counsel from them, he never once SPECIFICALLY revealed their exact location(s) with a mirror flash or specific details. You never heard things like “do you have my flash” or “do you see me on the ridgetop out your right door, waving my shovel with the pink flagging”?

    On June 30th, the radio transmissions we heard were things like “picking our way through the black” or “travelling down our Escape Route” or “coming off the top” or the like. Even when they were in the bowl preparing their alleged SZ, the radio transmissions are pretty vague and lacking detailed information. However, Fire Order #7 states to “maintain prompt communication with your … supervisor, and adjoing forces.” Clearly, Marsh did NOT do this. It’s as if Marsh and the GMHS had their own ‘VERSION(S)” of the ‘The WFF Rules.’

    Bad decisions with prior good outcomes. As Risk Management speaker Gordon Graham says, “What’s predictable is preventable.” The fatalities on June 30th were both predictable and preventable.

    • SR says

      RTS, regarding stealth movements, are you, or the former GMHS, stating that there were past episodes of the crew needing to NOT discuss where they’d been or what they’d done, sort of like not ever having gone over the border in a different context? Are you saying this was an insular pattern that was an expected mode of [non] communication for the whole crew?

      • Robert the Second says

        SR,

        Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Bad decisions with prior good outcomes. This was NOT the first and only time. I allege that this was GMHS (Marsh) Standard Operating Procedure.

        • WFF says

          You know I want to make a point here, we worked long and hard to get crew freqs. Not everyone uses their crew freq for sneaking around or getting away with things. I can remember having freqs. that weren’t authorized, but they provided a level of safety for everyone by not having everyday crew ops on the TAC.

          I knew they could have stayed in the black and it was obvious they could have moved through the black I was really just hoping it was bad judgement. This is going to be real hard on a few people. Life is a long time to carry a reputation you inherit. Bad news!

          • Bob Powers says

            I will state here for all. RTS has spent a lot of time talking to people and putting together what he has now released. Most of this information is coming from current employees and if they were known they would be in personal problems with the FS.
            I know RTS and his real name and I will personally vouch for his truth and sincerity in what he has said. He as well could at this time lose his job if his real name were released. Accept what has been released for now and hopefully more will step forward with additional information. Maybe the WHY is at least clearer now, It is not what any WFF wanted to hear and should be addressed Thru out the Country.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Robert the Second post on March 17, 2014 at 10:36 am

      >> RTS said
      >> The former GMHS said that Marsh was adamant about a
      >> form of ‘under-the-radar’ radio procedure.

      Regardless of ANY ‘past behavior’… the evidence record for
      June 30 certainly backs this up. I know that being ‘concise’ on
      the busy ‘shared’ channels is considered SOP and ‘a virtue’…
      but that’s not the simple explanation for what was happening on
      June 30 with regards to Marsh’s communications.

      Almost every one of Marsh’s communications on the ‘open’
      channels on that day that we can now hear with our own ears
      had this mysterious ‘obtuse’ aspect associated with it. Minimal
      information, dodging direct questions, refusing to be specific,
      etc. etc.

      >> RTS also said…
      >> Which leads to their (Marsh) June 30th disengenuous (coy)
      >> behavior and radio transmissions actions, intentions,
      >> location(s), and the like. I allege that Marsh was never
      >> forthright that day on any of these subjects.

      Again… the actual evidence record for June 30 supports this.

      If you compare the snippets of conversation that we can hear
      captured in the MacKenzie video ( when Marsh thought it
      was ‘just us’ and nobody was listening or would EVER hear
      that conversation ) it’s perfectly obvious that Marsh had a
      much different ‘conversational’ style of talking over the radio
      when he didn’t think command or OPS was listening than
      he did when talking to directly to command/OPS.

      Now I know that’s probably true of most field supervisors
      ( having a more terse speaking style on command channels
      versus private channels )… but I’m just pointing out that in
      Marsh’s case… the *difference* was *dramatic* and this is
      perfectly obvious from even the short moments captured by
      Christopher MacKenzie.

      People have used the term ‘freelancer’ to describe the kind
      of behavior we were seeing from Marsh that day.

      I think that IS, in fact, how he approached his job.

      Once again… kudos to RTS for the willingness to share
      information that might help shed more light on the events
      and circumstances that led to the tragedy of June 30, 2013.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Robert the Second post on March 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

      >> On March 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm, RTS said…
      >>
      >> SR, Spot-on regarding the GMHS ‘options.’ They were ‘not
      >> forced to move’ as some have claimed. Fire behavior and/or
      >> the threat of fire behavior wasn’t the deciding factor for
      >> GMHS to move. The “GM had no choice” assertion holds
      >> no water. They had several good, safe options THROUGH
      >> THE BLACK from their perfectly good SZ. BRHS said they
      >> could have walked in good black all the way from their
      >> SZ to Yarnell, no problem.

      And, indeed, did that very thing ( in the opposite direction )
      less than 60 minutes after the burnover at the deployment
      site. They were on UTV’s… but perfectly safe ‘out there’
      near the original anchor point and all the way out there
      vai the Sesame Trail two-track ( that GM walked in on
      that morning ).

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        RTS… apologies… that comment above was NOT
        supposed to appear on THIS thread… it was a response
        to what you said yesterday on the other SAFE BLACK
        thread down below. I think WordPress is starting to
        go haywire again, or something.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          As long as that SAFE BLACK comment appeared
          up here instead of down where it was originally
          posted… here is the ‘followup’ that never posted
          at all.

          LARGE PORTIONS OF THE SAFE BLACK
          NEVER BURNED AT ALL THAT DAY.

          Look in the following (public) folder on Mr.
          Dougherty’s dropbox site…

          A42-Aerial Video and Photos Mayhew

          https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7b7asvh6ptdavbr/FixOl2n6pI

          269 super highres aerial photos taken on
          July 4, 2013, just 4 days after the Yarnell tragedy.

          Photos in that folder clearly show an area the size
          of a SOCCER field… still totally GREEN and totally
          unburned… right in the MIDDLE of the ‘previously burned’ area near the anchor point.

          That’s how SAFE that SAFETY ZONE really
          was that afternoon.

    • SR says

      The apparent culture of secrecy surrounding even crew movements is, as already noted by many, very troubling.

      Was there any suggestion that, along with this, some crew movements suggested trouble reading maps? Where the same decision, even if it had been one other superintendents would have disagreed with and counseled him against, could have been carried out without the same muss and fuss through a better route choice? A culture of secrecy is obviously not compatible with a strong safety culture to begin with, but I don’t believe a full explanation for some of the decisions at YHF.

      IF a map had been consulted and Marsh therefore understood that he was taking the crew on a long, slow slog through dense brush, it should have been apparent that this would take roughly an hour or more and not get him where he wanted in a timely fashion, anyway. Likewise, GM’s lookout was in a public position earlier in the day, so there was no secrecy there, but also in my view no thought given to how he got out of there if needed.

      Marsh was old enough that he shouldn’t have been in the situation of some young adults who just rely on phone navigation for everything and literally aren’t map-literate. And, perhaps he read maps just fine. But, since to me going into that bowl was such a big “does not compute,” that even if pulled off safely wouldn’t have put GM in town soon enough, it’s worth asking the question.

      • Robert the Second says

        SR,

        I think the map argument is moot and really a non-issue. For one, maps are rare in the intitial stages of almost every fire, and so one must rely on downloaded maps and the like, and scouting. One did not need a map in this case. One needed to SCOUT the area for alternate routes, well covered in LCES, Fire Orders, and Watch Outs (The WFF Rules).

        • SR says

          I hear you, though if there is cell reception downloading maps takes only a few seconds. Likewise, you’re completely right that even visually, the route they chose should have on appearances not been a good choice. I guess what I am addressing when I ask if there was an issue with map-reading is the seeming lack of awareness about surroundings and also time. And, it’s noteworthy to me that even afterwards, many commenters seem to make abstract statements that ignore basic facts about location, topography, and time that either a map, or basic knowledge of the area, should have screaming out at them.

          You’re right that Marsh had all day to scout, and apparently did so…and still didn’t seem to have awareness of topography and vegetation. On reflection my asking about maps is likely just me grasping at straws to see if there is an “easier” answer to why that specific choice of route was made.

          • Robert the Second says

            SR,

            This was Marsh’s and the GMHS’ turf, so-to-speak. This was basically in their backyard. They knew or should have known better.

            Notwithstanding their lack of scouting (watch Out #1), it’s as if Watch Out #4 also applied to them that day as well, on their own turf!

            “Unfamiliar with weather and local factors influencing fire behavior.”

  35. Gary Olson says

    And just in case anyone out there is cyber space is wondering, this was how interviewing is done in the real world (FLETC – Interrogation 101). Establish rapport, show your ass if necessary, and talk long enough for someone to finally tell you the truth. Go home.

    • Gary Olson says

      Actually…I should have said, “Go home, write it up (or preferably have a subordinate write it up), submit it for prosecution, and get ready for the next one, case closed.”

      • WFF says

        Really that’s what you’ve got your going to try to bait me. Come on man with all the history you’ve got you should be better than that.

        • Gary Olson says

          Nope, that’s all I got. There are some good reasons why Public Safety employees have mandatory retirement. And, I just happen to believe RTS…based in large part on Bob Powers vouching for him, even though I don’t know who he is.

  36. Gary Olson says

    Well RTS…I guess you have answered the big question, “Why did the Granite Mountain Hotshots die.” There are probably some more blanks to be filled in by WTKTT’s detailed analysis and Elizabeth’s study of the FOIA material she has, but I guess you have answered the big question.

    My questions regarding who knew what, and when were rhetorical. I was trying to point out the obvious. If Eric Marsh’s flagrant, (and it sounds like he was way over the line on a regular basis) safety violations were so well known, then his supervisor MUST have known and he MUST have approved of Marsh’s actions.

    As far as I know, everything I did as a hotshot crew boss on a fire made it back to my home forest and my supervisor one way or the other…and very quickly. That information always got home before I did.

    • Gary Olson says

      RTS, I should also say, “thank you”, for telling those of us who have been participating in this discussion what a lot of people obviously already knew, and have known since June 1, 2013.

      I have always said it would take a “Source of Information” from the inside to tell us what happened.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I’d also like to thank RTS for his ongoing help in this discussion.

      Regardless of where the discussion heads following the latest
      comment(s)… it’s worth it to take a moment and acknowledge
      his continuing support of this ongoing discussion and his
      willingness to share information. Kudos.

      I suppose the latest comment ( and what appear to be a
      number of incidents to support it ) sheds even more light
      on some of the mysterious comments from Darrell Willis
      to Marsh in his employee evaluation just 57 days before
      the tragedy in Yarnell.

      I believe one of these days ( sooner rather than later? ) Darell
      Willis ( Wildland Division Chief for Prescott FD ) is going to
      have to elaborate on questions in the “WHAT did he know…
      and WHEN did he know it” category.

      I don’t know which would be worse…

      1) That the Wildland Division Chief supervising GM was
      perfectly aware of some patterns of risky behavior on the
      part of people he had charge of and did little ( or nothing )
      to try and correct the behavior ( vague comments in a
      once-a-year employee evaluation don’t count )…

      2) OR… such risky behavior was well known to other WFF
      supervisors but the PFD Wildland Division Chief was
      NOT, himself, aware of it.

  37. Robert the Second says

    I fully expected to get comments on my post regarding: ““Superintendents made comments such as this: ‘This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes. We saw this coming for years.” common knowledge that Eric Marsh made well known “prior bad decisions with good outcomes” we all knew it was going to happen.”

    Gary Olsen and others asked: “Who knew that? When did they know about it? What exactly did they know? What did they do to correct it? What did they do to stop it? Who did they tell about it?”

    Who knew this? Many HS Superintendents from many Regions on many fires over several years knew this. We knew that Marsh took unnecessary chances and risks AND GOT AWAY WITH THEM again and again and again. What did we do about it? We counselled him about it, like WTF are you thinking? And WTF are you doing here? And you know better than this, so do it the right way, the safe way. Who did we tell? Using ‘peer pressure’ we told Marsh on several (most) occasions and of course, we told each other. Surely, some did not interact with him and just chocked it up to, whatever. Marsh seemed to simply not be willing to listen to others, his peers, and especially Senior HS Superintendents. I believe that many (most) WFF supervisors aware of this behavior did the best they could to deal with it, but it was ultimately it up to Marsh.

    Marsh never ‘worked his way up’ on a HS Crew, but instead was a ‘filler’ on Crews while working on Engines. This MAY have had something to do with all this, not understanding the HS Crew ethic and all.

    I believe I posted earlier somewhere that at least two Superintendents felt that he was ‘always trying to one-up you.’ This was also verified by a former GMHS. Marsh seemed to have the attitude that they (GMHS) were inferior (or whatever) to the Federal HS Crews and always trying to ‘prove themselves’ as better. We all told him he had already accomplished that once he achieved Type I status.

    I have listed several (but not all) of these instances where the ‘bad decsions with prior good outcomes’ pathology persisted. This was basically a summation of those instances.

    • Bob Powers says

      They did it to prove that they could do it all. Ignore the rules and take the chance. This is then the Loop fire all over Making an name as the can do crew. That’s what Superintendent King did two other Crews turned down what the Division Boss wanted in front of King He decided to show those hot shot crews what his crew was made of. That is what both the Superintendents told me and I worked for both. As I said it has happened in the past and it was part of what happened this time, May be all of what happened this time. We have been looking or the why and as RTS said it was there all the time (ego driven crew bad decisions with good outcomes). Not purity but very likely. and it makes me very sad but I understand a little more now.

    • SR says

      So, you have a hole in accountability, right? No one’s ass is in a sling up the chain. I imagine many were hoping that Marsh would ultimately get “scared straight” without anything really bad happening. And, some of the time, that does happen.

    • WFF says

      RTS did you experience this first hand or get feedback from people you know? I’m sorry to hear this sad outcome for everyone involved.

  38. Gary Olson says

    Bob/RTS, Don’t you think there is something wrong with “everybody” standing around out at the deployment site and saying, “Yup, we saw this coming from a mile away, it was bound to happen, it was only a question of when?”

    Nobody operates in a vacuum on fires, especially no one who comes with a 20 person hotshot crew. If a group of hotshot crew bosses knew something was wrong, well…then…everybody knew something was wrong. Right?

    The wildland firefighting organization (all agencies included) is a very small tight knit world, there is only about 1 degree of separation (instead of 6) between every wildland firefighter in the country, including old retired, former firefighters like me. Right? Everybody knows everybody’s reputation, don’t they?

    Maybe that is what has been wrong with the SAIT and the SAIR and everything else since June 2, 2013. Maybe that is why nobody is talking and everybody is covering their asses? Like WTKTT said a long time ago, “there is nothing to see here, move along.”

    • SR says

      Regarding people having seen this coming, I would be surprised if they hadn’t seen SOMETHING bad coming for this crew. But, remember, if you drilled down, bad would mean 1-3 crew getting caught, something like that. Look at earlier in the afternoon at the YHF and see that McDonough got lucky that Frisby picked him up. You can see just what was done with their lookout and see that sooner or later, a bad outcome will follow a bad decision. That doesn’t mean anyone expected the whole crew to get caught.

      You currently have no real mechanism for either reporting near-misses, or making people feel that their asses are on the line if a superintendent is reckless. While civil lawsuits have resulted here, no one is being court-martialed. The families of the seasonal employees who died may be treated poorly by Prescott, but surviving higher-ups are not to my knowledge having their pensions and retirement status subject to review. And, oddly, I’m not sure that’s wholly wrong under the current system, because with the lack of reporting, I’m not sure how much of this kind of thing ever filtered back to Prescott. Even at Yarnell, had there been no accident, would anyone other than Frisby have a good idea how much risk McDonough was exposed to, and how McDonough’s decision-making implied views of deployment among other things that were troubling? It should have been apparent to GM themselves, and clearly was not.

      • SR says

        By reporting near-misses, I mean reporting in a way that realistically might fix the human factor in those near-misses.

        • Bob Powers says

          I dought if there is any paper work but you never know. Most of those that talked to him probably handled it one on one.

  39. Gary Olson says

    Oh, and one more thing Mr., Ms., Miss, or Mrs. WFF, I did agree with WTKTT when he systematically discredited virtually everything you said and every idea you had down below on March 6.

  40. Gary Olson says

    Bob said , “My take Gary== I dought you really did that. I’ll agree to disagree with you. You never knowingly would have put your crew in harms way……………..”

    You’re right Bob, I never did that. There is a fine line between “fighting fire AGRESSIVELY while providing for safety first” and doing what the Granite Mountain Hotshots did. The trick is to know when you are over the line and take extra precautions. Like I have said before I am conflicted.

    The main point I was trying to make is that not everyone was/is as safety minded and cautious as you and RTS were. Nor I did not invent the style of firefighting I was accustomed to, it was/is actually quite common. I think the only thing that really set the Yarnell Hill Fire apart from so many other wildfires…is the death toll. The fact that it was a safety deficient cluster ****, no.

    I am just trying to explain to those who have never fought wildfire that although what Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed did was an extreme example of the “can do” attitude that permeates the wildland firefighting culture…it is not and will not be the only time it has or will happen. I think that fact is wildland firefighter’s dirty little secret. Hubris and the “can do” attitude has killed more wildland firefighters than anything else.

    And I agree with WFF, as I have stated before, I don’t actually have anything to add to this discussion except background material on hotshots and firefighting in general, a kind of 2 plus 2 equals 4 logic. I also agree with WFF (as I have stated before) that I have already said to much and I should keep my mouth shut, although I will still point out that if WFF would have had his way in the beginning…John Dougherty never would have written about this event, and the only ones doing the talking would be Jerry Payne, Jim Paxon (I remembered his name) and Darrell Willis. How sad would that be?

    • Gary Olson says

      In addition, I continue to be thrown off by this concept that “Superintendents made comments such as this: ‘This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes. We saw this coming for years.” common knowledge that Eric Marsh made well known “prior bad decisions with good outcomes” we all knew it was going to happen.

      Who knew that? When did they know about it? What exactly did they know? What did they do to correct it? What did they do to stop it? Who did they tell about it? These are just a few of the questions I have…and if I have them, I’m sure there are a few family members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their attorney’s who also have a few questions that are very similar.

      So…am I wrong because I have talked too much, or are others wrong because they have not talked enough…Mr. WFF? I am still waiting for you to lay your credentials on the table rather than hide behind an internet alias. At least I have the courage to put my name on my ideas. Bob powers have vouched for RTS…that is good enough for me, but nobody has vouched for you Mr. WFF.

        • Bob Powers says

          Gary above you said it all I have no disagreement.
          I know R3 is working on safety from this fire lessons learned with there Superintendents which will cover all crews. They are studding the fire and the reports to make there own conclusions. That I am sure will come out in recommendations for all to read. There walk thru on the fire was part of that. BR was included in that walk thru. I hope to see a good message come from them.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Gary Olson on March 16, 2014 at 12:08 am

      >> Gary said…
      >> In addition, I continue to be thrown off by this concept that
      >> “Superintendents made comments such as this: ‘This was
      >> the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good
      >> outcomes. We saw this coming for years.”

      I would describe my own reaction to reading that recent
      comment not nearly as mildly as being ‘thrown off’.

      I would describe my own reaction more like “WHAAAAT???”.

      Previous references to ‘bad decisions with good outcomes’
      and the possible one-off baked UTV and a proficiency for
      parking your vehicles where others have to bail your ass out,
      and the occasional backfire that causes other crews to
      have to scramble for safety… are one thing…

      …but this *new* statement is something else altogether.

      >> Gary, also said…
      >> common knowledge that Eric Marsh made well known
      >> “prior bad decisions with good outcomes” we all knew
      >> it was going to happen.

      If, as you aptly describe, that is the “talk on the two-track”
      these days ( or even just at some private walk-thrus right
      where it all happened )… that is a BIG DEAL.

      >> gary also wrote…
      >>
      >> Who knew that?
      >> When did they know about it?
      >> What exactly did they know?
      >> What did they do to correct it?
      >> What did they do to stop it?
      >> Who did they tell about it?
      >>
      >> These are just a few of the questions I have…and if I
      >> have them, I’m sure there are a few family members
      >> of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their attorney’s
      >> who also have a few questions that are very similar.

      You can add me to that list… but I assure you my questions
      are not ‘similar’ to your list.

      They are IDENTICAL.

      • mike says

        This really bothers me. People unfortunately too often take a “head in the sand” approach to situations like the one alleged here, but afterwards are all too willing to start yapping. Whose job would it have been to correct a situation like this? (please, dear God, do not let Darrell Willis be the answer to this question). Should Granite Mountain have gotten Type 1 IHC status? If they were so obviously unsafe, should they have continued to receive assignments? How does/should the fire community handle a situation like alleged here? Are there similar situations out there right now? Was Granite Mountain treated like crap over the years by the federal crews, and was put in the position of having to prove themselves? Did Eric Marsh, who seems as if he might have been a little prickly, make enemies over the years, who are now willing to engage in a whispering campaign? Most importantly, just WHAT IS THE TRUTH?

        • J. Stout says

          Mike, What the (expletive deleted) are you asking/implying here? Because whether they (GM) were ‘ever’ treated like crap or not … nobody PUT THEM in a position. Period. End of sentence.

          As for suggesting how the current information coming out regarding GM’s superintendent could be nothing more than a case of PAYBACK (?) because Marsh ‘might have been a little prickly’ over the years …

          Is THIS what you have to say — after all the time spent here with numerous WFF’s (current and retired) … after all that they have made possible for any reader to learn (and know) … particularly when it comes to not just themselves and their profession, but just how deeply the YHF tragedy concerns them. You think ‘payback’ is what concerned those who were visiting the ridge above the burnover??

          Get a grip, Mike, that’s all I can say. Get a grip.

          • mike says

            Hell, I don’t know what or who to believe anymore. Some WFF and hotshots have been quoted that Marsh was first-rate, others apparently feel he was an accident waiting to happen. If it was the latter, the system allowed him to continue in a position where he ended up responsible for the deaths of 18 other men. The primary investigation team concludes that the whole affair was essentially bad luck. You have to this day basic facts about this whole event known to senior overhead on the fire that have not been made public, for whatever reason. Everyone wants to talk about lessons, but we first cannot even get an honest accounting of what happened that day. And I think that is not because what actually happened is unknown, it just has not been laid out openly.

            People say baring the facts might be harsh for the families. I am sure advancing the idea that the crew super was dangerous (and I honestly am not discounting that possibility, I do respect what RTS has had to say) will go over much better! Let’s get an honest accounting of the facts that day, then we can debate how much Marsh’s prior behavior had to do with the events of June 30.

            Finally, no I do not believe people are saying that about Marsh as a matter of getting even. The question was rhetorical. There appear to be real differences of opinion here. Everyone wants to know why they left the black. Almost certainly, no set of facts discovered will ever justify them having done so. But let’s find out what happened first, then we can assign the proper relevance to prior decisions.

  41. Robert the Second says

    Bob Powers posted on March 16th at 1236:

    ” I will also go back to the walk thru of Arizona hot shots that all felt the black was the best safety zone and they should have stayed there. The walk thru was a training exercise by FS Crews and I am sure will not be released to the public.”

    That ‘walk thru’ was basically an informal Staff Ride. Several of the Hot Shot Superintendents made comments such as this: ‘This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes. We saw this coming for years.’

    Just one more alignment element in the Swiss Cheese model of accident causaion authored by James Reason. http://www.coloradofirecamp.com/swiss-cheese/introduction.htm

      • Bob Powers says

        I would add as Gary well knows Hot Shots are a tight organization in the Forest Service and BLM. If a crew is failing the test they will talk among them self’s and maybe to a trusted IC. The Failings for some reason stay with in the community. It has been that way science the Crews were first formed. Some reasons are supervisors won’t listen, and some say it is just a crew rivalry. One Superintendent won’t tell another what they should do unwritten rule. I run my crew you run yours. If you are not doing the right things you won’t listen to me any way. Simple but very complex.

  42. Bob Powers says

    There is one thing here that concerns me. Joy’s statement of the rumor of a back fire while I don’t believe any fire fighters could have been there to back fire around Boulder Springs Ranch could some one else have set a back fire? Like the owners. That would be a game changer if that happened I have not seen any statement or investigation that looked into that possibility.
    If that would have happened it would have been devastating to the crew since it would have puled the main fire and the backfire together much faster. Again we need proof that happened. Some rumors are just that, and the main fire could just have well had multiple spot fires that did the same thing.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Powers… I actually thought about that myself at some point.

      Did the owners of the Helms Ranch put their own ‘burnout’
      plan into action somewhere on their own perimeter which
      THEN turned into the (totally unexpected) west/southwest-moving
      fireline that actually killed GM?

      I researched it and never mentioned it because there really
      is no evidence to support it.

      By all accounts… the owners of the Helms Ranch barely had
      time to get their animals under shelter before the STORM
      driven fireline swept around their ranch.

      I don’t think the Helms Ranch security camera video footage
      ( if/when we EVER get to actually see any/all of that ) is
      going to show anything different.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Followup…

        I really should have put the following CAVEAT into
        what I said above…

        “I researched it and never mentioned it because there
        really is no evidence to support it… AT THIS TIME”.

        As with a most things regarding this incident… there’s
        no telling what new ‘evidence’ might suddenly come
        into the light of day.

      • Bob Powers says

        I would not have mentioned it but Joy brought it up yesterday. Just wanted a little airing on it . Thanks WTNTT.

  43. Robert the Second says

    Elizabeth,

    The SZ (the good, solid black) where GMHS hung out for most of the day could NOT burn again. Just look at the photos and video clips. The Joy and Tex photo showed the area in the background above them as the GMHS was hiking up the jeep road. That showed pretty solid black. The MacKenzie video clips indicated the same thing.

    And the “weatherman video that Mr. Turbyfill” showed leaves a lot to be desired as far as I’m concerned. Quite a bit of pure speculation in those, I thought. And a lot of histrionics.

    The 4:04 SZ could NOT have “ultimately reburned” because there was NOT any fuel to burn. And the Matt Oss video shows flames coming over the ridgetop from the bowl below, but the GMHS SZ was down below that. The fire no doubt burned by them in the unburned areas but there is NO way it could have burned what was already black.

    As far as them deploying in the SZ? Then it would not have been a SZ. It would have been comptetely survivable WITHOUT a fire shelter. The good black around their SZ looked to be several hundred acres and so there was NO way for the fire to get to them. Someradiant heat maybe, but not enough to kill them or injure them. I’m sure they could have felt the radiant heat from down below in the basin, just another indicator warning them NOT to leave their prefectly good SZ.

    Bottom line – they were perfectly safe where they were and should have NEVER left it, especially without the REQUIRED benefit of a Lookout. Totally predictable and totally preventable.

    • SR says

      I actually liked the “Weatherman video” overall, even if it is a bit over the top. While thunderstorms with extreme downdrafts are common that time of year in that area, for someone who hasn’t experienced them there, or experienced the afternoon lightning shows on the Front Range in CO, etc. the video has some good content to make them aware.

      That said, I think Elizabeth is seeing a bit of an optical illusion in the fire progression map in that video. You can do this with dominos — just set a few as a “point of origin,” then have the domino collapse “spread,” and finally set them for the spread to rapidly “envelope” the original fallen dominoes. Your brain will get the sense that the initial area of fallen dominoes sort of got swallowed by a final total collapse. Obviously, this doesn’t really happen.

      Because the area that GM was in at 4:04 was as big as it was, the fire burning around it would have been dramatic but nothing more than that. If it had been a little sliver, yes, then in that case that was not the reality, they could have been at risk. Bottom line, they were not forced to move by the fire behavior, based on what they and others knew at that time, based on what their subjective beliefs were at that time as expressed to others (Marsh and Steed subjectively also clearly believed they were in good black), and even based in hindsight (based on what we now know, it is clear they would have been safe if they did stay in the black, as they themselves believed at that time). Had they wanted to move but stay safe, there were also options available to them to do so.

      • Elizabeth says

        Where is the support for your very last sentence, SR? The single person on the fire that day in terms of overhead who knew the area the best – Gary Cordes – with support from Ops as well has testified *EXACTLY* the opposite. What way would you have had GM go, SR, and what materials do you have as source materials that I do not yet have?

        • SR says

          Elizabeth, what were they in, before they struck out? An area that had already burned. With access to much more. Can you see where I’m going with this?

          Take a quick look at a map, and tell me what other options you see.

          Anyone can take isolated snippets of interviews and twist them to support a theory that “GM had no choice.” But, reality is quite different. Actually look at a map. And then actually try to hike thru the kind of brush they chose to go thru.

          That may sound critical, but I really do appreciate all the time you and the others here have put into trying to get clarity on this. I really do think that if you actually look at a map, and look at the options available, you’ll see it. And if I type it here first, you’ll discount it anyway because it doesn’t support a theory that GM had no choice but to move (though they clearly could have stayed put) and if they moved, no other routes to take.

            • Bob Powers says

              Elizabeth what do you want there is not a fire fighter here that would tell you the black was not safe. move to the top of the hill and more well burned black. Walk back across the top to where BR came up the ATV track and after the Fire burned past it drop back down to where the vehicles were parked and out. That is a lot of option they did not have to go down into unburned fuel to get back to Yarnell. A Fire Fighters best option for safety always is the burn
              ( the black). Trained that day one of FF101.

              • SR says

                Bob,

                Is it fair to say that you can sort a good bit of this simply by using Google Earth and a fire progression map? For me, I find that Google Earth still tends to dramatically understate potential tough going in terms of slope, brush, boulders, etc., but it does so pretty equally. A useful and free tool, though other utilities may give more useful info overall.

                • Robert the Second says

                  SR,

                  Spot-on regarding the GMHS ‘options.’ They were ‘not forced to move’ as some have claimed. Fire behavior and/or the threat of fire behavior wasn’t the deciding factor for GMHS to move. The “GM had no choice” assertion holds no water. They had several good, safe options THROUGH THE BLACK from their perfectly good SZ. BRHS said they could have walked in good black all the way from their SZ to Yarnell, no problem.

                  • Paul Johnson says

                    From John Dougherty’s August 21, 2013 article: “Just before the final hike in to start battling the fire, one of the firefighters was texting his mother,” Bates said…. “‘Mom, the fire is getting big. There’s a ranch down there. We need to go protect it. We will rest later.’” So, going to Yarnell wasn’t that crew member’s understanding of the mission; they were going to protect the ranch. With that mindset, why detour through the black to Yarnell when they could go directly to the ranch? (It’s truly unbelievable that they were led on that route. I feel so sad for the crew, their families and friends.)

  44. Elizabeth says

    I had assumed based on the commentary of some folks here that GM was perfectly safe where they WERE at roughly 4:04 p.m., but the fire maps from the Yarnell Hill Fire and the weatherman video that Mr. Turbyfill shared with us below, among other things, are making me re-assess and wonder whether I need to do more research. I know Mr. Powers’s view on this matter, but I would like to know if anyone else has researched this issue rather than relying on the SAIR or comments on this blog. If you do not want to respond publicly, you are welcome to e-mail me at elizabethreyarnell@gmail.com.
    Specifically, I am now trying to research or understand whether (a) the area where GM was at 4:04 ultimately re-burned (see the Matt Oss photos) at least to some degree because there was enough fuel still remaining in the area (e.g. charred but not unburnable things), (b) the area where GM was at 4:04 might not have burned directly but was certainly burned around and hit with heat from the fire so hot that it would have been lethal, particularly given the view articulated by some experts cited by Sonny/Joy that that was not a feasible area in which to deploy shelters due to the landscape and relevant factors, and (c) even if the GM guys could have deployed there, they STILL would have been hit with sustained heat beyond the capacity of a fire shelter even properly deployed to withstand.
    Has anyone on this comment thread researched the issue and considered (presumably comparing) the pictures and maps from that day of the Yarnell Hill Fire? If you do not want to post publicly, you are welcome to share your thoughts at elizabethreyarnell@gmail.com

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Elizabeth post on March 15, 2014 at 9:16 am

      From page 18 of the ADOSH report…
      _____________________________________________________
      At approximately 1545 hours, Division A Supervisor Marsh had
      a radio conversation with Operations Section Chief I Abel
      regarding the weather and the position of Granite Mountain iHC.

      Marsh was located near the top of the Weaver Mountains and had
      a clear view of the thunderstorm, the fire, and the valley below.

      Marsh and Abel had been watching the storm for some time and
      discussed their concerns regarding the storms effects.

      Marsh reportedly stated that Granite Mountain was SAFE and in
      the BLACK (i.e., previously burned wildland).

      Shortly THEREAFTER, Operations Section Chief 2 Musser
      radioed GMIHC and asked if they could spare resources to
      assist in Yarnell.

      Either Marsh or GMIHC Captain Steed responded that they were
      COMMITTED to the BLACK and that Musser should contact
      BRIHC working in the valley (during his interview Musser stated
      that he wasn’t sure who he was talking with).
      _____________________________________________________

      Key points…

      >> Marsh was located near the top of the Weaver Mountains
      >> and had a clear view of the thunderstorm, the fire, and
      >> the valley below.

      Marsh ( and Steed ) could clearly see what the fire was doing,
      and SHOULD have known what it was now GOING to do for
      the next 60 minutes.

      >> Marsh and Abel had been watching the storm for some time
      >> and discussed their concerns regarding the storms effects.

      The discussion with OPS was all about THE STORM, and the
      effect it WAS having ( and would CONTINUE to have ) on
      the fire for at least the next 60 minutes.

      >> Marsh reportedly stated that Granite Mountain was SAFE
      >> and in the BLACK (i.e., previously burned wildland).

      Keyword: SAFE
      Keyword: “in the BLACK”
      Keyword: Previously BURNED wildland.

      At 1545-1550… Marsh/Steed had ALREADY determined
      they would be perfectly SAFE where they were… and they
      were reporting this fact to Operations ( Abel ) over the radio.

      >> Shortly THEREAFTER, Operations Section Chief 2 Musser
      >> radioed GMIHC and asked if they could spare resources to
      >> assist in Yarnell. Either Marsh or GMIHC Captain Steed
      >> responded that they were COMMITTED to the BLACK

      Matches their thinking at 1545-1550 during conversation with
      the OTHER OPS on the fire. They had ALREADY determined
      they would be perfectly SAFE where they were… and they
      were COMMITTED to that decision, for their own safety.

      Then… something really irresponsible and stupid happened.

      2 men decided on behalf of 17 others that something was
      more important than ALL of them staying totally SAFE.

      • calvin says

        WTKTT. The ONLY thing I have heard (personally) is Someone (Able?) speaking at approximately 1550 (in the Caldwell video). Telling Someone (Marsh?), to hunker(?) and be safe, keep me updated and air support ASAP. Does ASAP represent urgency/ priority or maybe emergency? Does to me!

        And until WE actually hear and consider what is said/ or not said between Musser and Marsh at approximately 1542 (perhaps?) I do not think we can determine the actual timeline of which came first 1. Musser’s request that was denied, or 2.Able’s Air support ASAP that we know came at 1550

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to calvin post on March 15, 2014 at 7:46 pm

          >> calvin said…
          >> WTKTT. The ONLY thing I have heard
          >> (personally) is Someone (Able?) speaking at
          >> approximately 1550 (in the Caldwell video).
          >> Telling Someone (Marsh?), to hunker(?) and be
          >> safe, keep me updated and air support ASAP.

          Same here… except I am (personally) as sure as
          I can be that the ‘someones’ are, in fact, Todd
          Abel and Eric Marsh… and I think anyone who
          listens to the Caldwell video audio track
          can/should be sure of that as well. No need
          for ‘audio forensics’. Those recordings are
          clear and easily matched with other clear
          recordings of the same two people.

          >> Does ASAP represent urgency/ priority or
          >> maybe emergency? Does to me!

          Well.. me too, I guess. ASAP certainly doesn’t
          mean ‘tomorrow’. The shit was hitting the fan
          all over the place at that time. Only Todd Abel
          can still say what he SPECIFICALLY meant
          by that… but SAIT investigation notes already
          say he doesn’t even recall this ENTIRE
          conversation so I don’t know how we get any
          more ‘certainty’ on what his ASAP meant ( unless
          Brendan knows ).

          >> calvin also said…
          >> And until WE actually hear and consider what
          >> is said/ or not said between Musser and Marsh
          >> at approximately 1542 (perhaps?) I do not think
          >> we can determine the actual timeline of which
          >> came first …
          >>
          >> 1. Musser’s request that was denied, or
          >> 2. Able’s Air support ASAP that we know
          >> came at 1550

          I agree… but there is also no doubt that the
          ADOSH investigators had SOME basis for being
          sure enough ‘which came first’ to say that
          Musser’s request came ‘shortly THEREAFTER’
          that conversation with OPS1 Abel.

          Problem is… we don’t even know about that.

          We do NOT know why ADOSH could be so sure
          that they used the specific ‘shortly THEREAFTER’
          reference. Did they NOT get any specific TIME
          from their interview with Musser where he finally
          admitted that he ‘requested resources’… but
          somehow Musser was also SURE that it came
          AFTER the Marsh/Abel conversation?

          …or was Musser totally clueless about that but
          ADOSH had some OTHER information available
          to them to support their own ‘THEREAFTER’
          claim?

          A lot of stuff has recently been released by
          ADOSH and a lot of people have it… but I haven’t
          seen/heard of anything that would answer this
          particular question ( such as some actual
          transcript of their interview with Musser? ).

          WHY was ADOSH so SURE that Musser’s
          ‘request for resources’ came ‘AFTER’ the
          Marsh/Abel conversation?

          Perhaps we will at least find that out soon.

          As far as (possibly) HEARING more… I still
          haven’t seen that Air Study video that (supposedly)
          has Musser calling out to Marsh in it.

          Mr. Dougherty said he was actively ‘uploading’ it
          and it would be available ‘the next day’… but that
          was MORE than a week ago and there’s still
          no sign of it.

          I still would just like to know at what OFFSET into
          the video this ‘supposed’ callout from Musser to
          Abel took place. At least then we could put a
          time on when Musser was TRYING to get hold
          of Marsh. Whether there is ANY more discernible
          conversation at that point still remains to be
          seen/heard ( if there’s anything there at all ).

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Sorry… bad typo in last paragraph above.
            I said ‘this callout from Musser to Abel’.

            I obviously meant to say ‘this callout from
            Musser to Marsh’ ( in the Air Study video ).

            THAT is the one where I still want anyone
            who has that particular Air Study video to
            just at least say at what OFFSET into
            the video this ‘callout’ (supposedly) takes
            place.

    • Bob Powers says

      First we have been thru this before. Second I looked at the area from the pictures that were made public in the SAIT. Third there was no chance of reburn where they were, how ever they could easily back up the hill and into 400 + acres of burn on top of the fire. Forth there was not enough fuel ground or aerial in the burn to sustain a forward moving fire.
      There is just no way that notion will hold water. They could have moved to the top at any time and been in total black, That is where they should have been and stayed, everybody on the fire thought so.
      Where they were sitting was on the slope and would sustain some heat but flame lengths would have been reduced and there was not enough unburned fuel to carry the fire moving to the top would have kept them comfortable and they would not have had to deploy. Again they were safe where they were and had options to move to a more comfortable location if needed. I will also go back to the walk thru of Arizona hot shots that all felt the black was the best safety zone and they should have stayed there. The walk thru was a training exercise by FS Crews and I am sure will not be released to the public.
      The best place for a crew to fight fire is with one foot in the black. Why? because your safety zone is always next to you and you bring it with you as you go. If you end up in over story fuel you cut line back into the full burned area ESCAPE ROUT.
      My last Question. Which is more safe staying in a 400 Ac. burned area or going down hill into unburned fuel, with an out of control fire within a mile and a half of you?

  45. Joy A Collura says

    is there anyone from the fire that day that can answer my questions—I have asked some on my hikes but no one yet will put a public name or statement.

    QUESTION- to this date I call this not a tip but rumor since person who told me will not publicly come forward; statement made from someone near the Helm’s home- “The firefighters burned the terrain out near the Helms”…is there anyone that will answer if that is a true statement because we saw a fire go SUPERFAST at great heights late afternoon and the reason we never rested in 107 degree weather and kept on going until we got out. If this is a factual statement and there was a fire made outside the fire that was already burning—this needs to be shared. The person who shared it to me is credible. It is just some people are not bold to speak sources or how they come to their conclusions because of their career or lifestyles. Yet that IS one of my questions plus WHY they dropped retardant where they did that day? I know Y O U can come forward and give this day so much clarity and I still hope you do— I see some of Y O U did and for that— HUGE THANK YOU!

      • answer- says

        What’s the address, street name, and town/subdivision on the Helm’s home?

        17875 W Boulder Springs Trail (Helms=Boulder Springs label), next to the Boulder Mesa/Glen Ilah ext. 3 subdivision in Glen Ilah.

  46. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** CLEAR RECORDING OF OPS2 PAUL MUSSER’S VOICE

    FYI – If anyone wants to know what Paul Musser’s voice sounds like over
    the radio… calvin actually found a CLEAR captured recording of
    OPS2 ( Planning OPS ) Paul Musser calling OPS1 ( Field OPS ) Todd Abel
    over the radio in the background of Air Study video…

    “20130630 144756 SEAT EP”

    I extracted that CLEAR recording of Musser’s voice, put it on a ‘loop’… and
    uploaded that video/audio to YouTube.

    That CLEAR recording of Musser’s voice is HERE…

    http://youtu.be/5doIOFpP5SY

    Also.. here is the actual FULL transcript of the ‘background’ audio captured
    in that particular Air Study video.

    No ‘audio forensics’ required. What is being said in the background in this
    particular Air Study video is easily heard by anyone with normal hearing.

    *** Air Study Video: 20130630 144756 SEAT EP

    NOTE: This is a transcript of the BACKGROUND radio conversations only.
    The foreground ‘Air to Air’ radio conversations are not transcibed here.

    Todd Abel = OPS1 Field OPS on June 30, 2013.
    Paul Musser = OPS2 Planning OPS on June 30, 2013.
    Rob Berry= Division Supervisor for Foxtrot on June 30, 2013.

    VIDEO STARTS ( 1447 + 56 seconds ) ( 2:47.56 PM )

    +0:00
    (Todd Abel): Yea, Rob… I’m out here drivin’ around tryin’ to get some of this
    road stuff figured out… uh… all the… all the houses you’re on has to be
    accessed off the pavement behind the school, correct?

    +0:14
    (Rob Berry:) Uh… yea… that’s affirmative. There’s a tie-in back here
    between us and… uh… Model Creek road but, uh… it’s not very good one.

    +1:22
    (Paul Musser): Operations Abel, Musser, on TAC 1.

    +1:29
    (Todd Abel): Yea… I’m tryin’ to work my way back into those structures.

    ( Next section of background conversation is completely covered by loud
    foreground Air to Air channel conversation ).

    +1:51
    (Todd Abel): Yea, negative. ( Key is to ) know where Darrell’s main access
    ( is to ) try to pick the most structures up and that might cover it.

    (Unknown): Okay.

    VIDEO ENDS

  47. mike says

    I have always thought that Paul Musser had not given any public comments on the events of that day. Turns out I was quite wrong. In the October 5th, 2013 article from the USA Today that was about what Roy Hall had to say, Musser was also quoted at length. Maybe someone can post the link – I’m stuck in the 19th century. Anyway, the relevant passages I found somewhat stunning.

    “Musser said uninformed critiques have been quite cruel, especially with regard to the Granite Mountain crew. Though he struggles to understand why they abandoned a safe area, he said ‘I wasn’t on that ridge, so I cannot and will not second guess. …It’s not like they were trying to die that day.’ Even if misjudgments occurred, Musser stressed they were not intentional. ‘Everybody there was trying to do the best job they could. And it just didn’t work out. …There were things throughout the day that could have changed the outcome, and they just didn’t happen. I don’t think they (missteps) will ever be identified. …I don’t know what it will help doing that.’ ”

    “His voice quavering, Musser said months of self-questioning, official investigations and public scrutiny have left him with just one certainty: ‘This will be part of my life forever.’ ”

    This interview was on October 5th, just after the SAIT came out. His answers were very careful, the part about him not knowing why they left the safe zone was not a quote, but came from the reporter. He sounds like a tortured man. Could he have not told the SAIT about the request, but then told ADOSH?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to mike post on March 13, 2014 at 8:25 pm

      >> mike said…
      >> In the October 5th, 2013 article from the USA Today that
      >> was about what Roy Hall had to say, Musser was also
      >> quoted at length. Maybe someone can post the link

      Commander reflects on Yarnell fire tragedy
      Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY 5:55 p.m. EDT October 5, 2013
      ( With VIDEO of Roy Hall part of the interview )…
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/04/commander-reflects-on-yarnell-fire-tragedy/2926419/

      Here are the ‘other’ things OPS2 Paul Musser said in that
      USA Today interview BEFORE the quotes included by
      mike up above…
      _____________________________________________________
      Paul Musser, one of two operations section chiefs on the incident command team, said he doesn’t believe in blaming deaths on a “perfect storm” because firefighters are trained to anticipate worst-possible conditions, but — without using the benefit of hindsight — he struggles to see how the tragedy could have been averted.

      “We did everything according to our training and experience,” said Musser, who has fought fires for more than three decades, including 22 years as a hotshot. “If I thought there was anything that any of us could have done to change the outcome, I’d do it. But I don’t think there was. … Accidents will always happen.”
      _____________________________________________________
      Musser said some who were not on the fire have questioned the 30-minute span when there was no communication with Granite Mountain Hotshots, relying on retrospective knowledge and a limited awareness of the circumstances.

      He said outsiders also have suggested that all suppression efforts should have been abandoned as the fire blew up and changed direction. If that strategy had been adopted, he asked, “How many people — civilians — would we have lost in Yarnell and Peeples Valley?”
      _____________________________________________________

      >> mike also said…
      >> This interview was on October 5th, just after the SAIT
      >> came out. His answers were very careful.

      Yes. They were.

      In addition to his ‘dance around’ on his ‘struggle to understand
      why they abandonded a safe area’… there is also this gem…

      “Musser said some who were not on the fire have questioned the 30-minute span when there was no communication with Granite Mountain Hotshots, relying on retrospective knowledge and a limited awareness of the circumstances.”

      That is what is called “Asked… but NOT answered”.

      Musser acknowledges that some people are DOUBTING the
      reported ‘blackout’… but carefully doesn’t say whether they
      have a right to or not… only that they ARE.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      By the way… if anyone wants to know what Paul Musser’s
      voice sounds like over the radio…

      …calvin actually found a CLEAR captured recording of Paul
      Musser calling Todd Abel over the radio in the background
      of Air Study video “20130630 144756 SEAT EP”

      I extracted that CLEAR recording of Musser’s voice, put it
      on a ‘loop’… and uploaded that video/audio to YouTube.

      That CLEAR recording of Musser’s voice is HERE…

      http://youtu.be/5doIOFpP5SY

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Here is ANOTHER ( different ) USA Today article where
      Paul Musser is publicly “quoted”.

      It was ‘picked up’ by USA Today after being originally
      published by the Arizona Republic the day AFTER the
      one above.

      Fire experts: Yarnell report fails to provide lessons
      Original article by Mary Jo Pitzl, The Arizona Republic
      3:54 p.m. EDT October 6, 2013
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/06/yarnell-fire-lessons-future/2932335/

      From the article…
      ______________________________________________________
      Paul Musser, one of two operations section chiefs on the Yarnell Hill Fire, said he sees no way to determine specific misjudgments made by firefighters who lost their lives. “I don’t think they will ever be identified,” he said. “And I don’t know what it will help doing that.”

      Asked what lessons have been learned from the tragedy, Musser paused, then said: “I wish I knew.”
      _____________________________________________________

  48. Elizabeth says

    We have ample evidence suggesting that Eric Marsh and/or the Granite Mountain Hotshots *WERE* disclosing where they were going as they were heading to the Boulder Springs Ranch, which Gary Cordes advised them should be viewed as a bomb-proof safety zone. It is entirely possible (although I am not yet certain either way) that Marsh as DivsA was trying to keep Air Attack in the loop regarding GM’s movements, and it is entirely possible that DivsA or GM did not realize that Rory Collins (with whom DivsA had been communicating and who was well-aware of GM’s location) had left at 3:59 p.m. such that the new Air Attack (e.g. Bravo33) had no idea where GM was or what their target safety zone was. The following “facts,” loosely paraphrased given that I do not have time to both DO the research and then recreate it here in full, come from both the publicly-released SAIT notes, the newly-released unit logs (see John Dougherty’s most recent post), and a few other first-hand sources that apparently have not yet been released by the media. If you go back and read the SAIT interview notes and the newly-released unit logs, I believe you will see all or most of the following:
    * Bravo 33 admits that they “[g]ot a call from Division A stating that they were going down their escape route to the safety zone.” Bravo 33 continues to say “We came around, made a practice run through the bowl, west to east,” and, then, “Division A [called] and said ‘that is what we are looking for, that is exactly right.’”
    * The fact that DivsA states “that is exactly right” implies that DivsA had communicated a LOCATION to Bravo33, such that DivsA was expressing satisfaction that Bravo33 got the message and found the area correctly.
    * How would Bravo33 have known which line to fly if they had not gotten communications from DivsA?
    * Bravo33 knew roughly where GM was when they deployed, but they just could not GET to it because of the smoke, as did Ranger58 Eric Tarr, who said he remembered hearing the location toward the Ranch communicated on the radio from Marsh/GM previously, as they were making their way toward the Ranch.
    * Tarr and Ranger 58 only FOUND DivsA and GM because, when the smoke lifted, Tarr *SAW* the Ranch and explicitly remembered hearing DivsA say that they were heading toward it.
    * In the Caldwell audio/video, it appears that someone is telling DivsA that they will soon be sending air support DOWN to DivsA/GM, as in “down in the valley,” toward the Boulder Springs Ranch. (FYI: We do not know for sure who is speaking in the raw Robert Caldwell audio (not the rabbit video one), nor do we know how the story about the word being “hunker” developed. I am not sure that the word really is hunker, nor I am convinced that the speaker is Abel.)
    * Cordes has admitted repeatedly that he knew GM was heading to the Boulder Springs Ranch, he believed (based on when DivsA/GM announced on the radio that they were headed out there) that they had plenty of time to get there, and he was not surprised at where GM was ultimately located.
    * Rory Collins, who was Air Attack basically all day but who unfortunately left at 3:59, has attested that he and DivsA spoke sometime between roughly 3:35 and 3:45, and he knew that DivsA was not in the black. My understanding is that he and DivsA and Collins communicated about, among other things, the fact that the retardant line 3/8ths of a mile NW of the dozer line had been compromised.

    I, unlike SR, WTKTT, etc., have been candid with people about WHO I am, such that (a) I have put my professional reputation on the line and (b) you can assess for yourself whether I have a dog in the fight. I have no reason to skew the facts in FAVOR of GM, nor do I have any reason to skew the facts AGAINST GM. I just want to know exactly what happened, so that I can help folks get some closure and move on.

    • SR says

      Elizabeth, what you are showing is that there is zero evidence anyone knew specifically where GM was. Likewise there is no indication anyone was ever asked to keep eyes on them. Economy in communication is a virtue, but communications are not expected to be a guessing game, and if Marsh had been asking for a lookout, he would have asked for a lookout. 5 seconds of extra communication. Or maybe not 5 EXTRA seconds, if he had been specific rather than vague in the communication that did occur.

      When doing things like citing the SAIT notes for B33, p. 15 of 60, you would also do well to note what the actual dialogue between B33 and Marsh/GM seems to have been.

      Right at the last communications between B33 and Marsh, B33 also still had to confirm that GM was on the south side of the fire. Because B33 didn’t know exactly where they were.

      Neither do you seem to think through what B33 what have done if he WERE to have been acting as a lookout, and DID know where GM was. If the idea is that he was the lookout who didn’t know he was a lookout, because Marsh wanted a lookout but didn’t quite want to say so, but was hoping B33 guessed correctly, and that people all the time kind of hint at wanting AA to be a lookout and assume that AA knows more or less where they are….well: no. That is not how it works. And if B33 were to have been a lookout, he would have been screaming at GM to get out of where they were.

      • Bob Powers says

        Again you are right nothing I can add. With other things that happened with Marsh and GM the conversation with B33 is something that we have no information as to why.
        A possible air tanker drop location? Not specific enough to say that was why Marsh said what he said.

        • SR says

          Agreed.

          I do feel strongly, though, that one thing we can rule out is that Marsh was acting, in that conversation, in a way that suggests he was asking for a lookout. For me, it can be helpful to think about what someone would actually say if they wanted a lookout. Something like “we are on the shoulder south of the fire, about to drop off into the bowled drainage down to the ranch. Can you see us?” “Yes.” “Can you keep eyes on us while we work down to the ranch?” “Granite Mountain, you need to reverse. Go south, do not drop into the bowl.” “No, we feel comfortable, we can make the ranch.” “Granite Mountain, …”

          There is no evidence that Marsh himself THOUGHT he had a lookout. I understand the emotional appeal of the theory, but in reality it seriously calls into question the judgment of someone in Marsh’s position, if people are trying to suggest that he believed he could give vague statements and then simply assume that everyone would intuit from those vague statements that he really meant “please keep eyes on us while we descend into the bowl towards the ranch.”

          • Bob Powers says

            I have been on both sides of the radio in a conversation like that. Air attack first needs eyes on the crew. The radio person on the crew needs to make a very specific request. On IA fires air attack can and dose assets ground crews. And in an emergency can assist ground crews but again being very specific is essential. I have yet to see that between Marsh and B33.

      • Elizabeth says

        SR and Bob, I think you are missing the broader discussion in which I was participating, so I will try again:

        Various commenters on this website have repeatedly intimated that maybe Eric Marsh was trying to HIDE what GM was doing when they left the black to go down to what Gary Cordes had stated was a bomb-proof safety zone at the Boulder Springs Ranch. I have not yet uncovered any materials in my stacks of materials that would suggest this theory (re “hiding” or “sneaking” around or whatever) to have merit. Based solely on the publicly-available materials, as opposed to the stacks of additional materials that I currently have that the media has not yet released or might not even have, it is clear to me that DivsA communicated (at least to some degree, which might have been a lousy degree) that they were making their way to the Boulder Springs Ranch.

        I am NOT saying that DivsA asked Bravo33 to be GM’s lookout, although I am currently chewing on whether or not DivsA mistakenly took inappropriate comfort in the presumably mistaken belief that Rory Collins was still Air Attack and would give GM the heads-up on any changes in fire the EXACT same way that Air Attack seems to have done roughly 30 minutes before.

        • Bob Powers says

          The only conclusion we can come to—–
          1. Marsh and crew left the fire and did not communicate with OPS or IC what they were doing.
          2. Marsh and crew were not clear to any one as to what they were doing. Frisby, OPS, and Air Attack.
          3. What they said to every body left a lot of information out.
          My only option they took a calculated risk and did not want people to know what they were doing.
          Why else would you break the 10 and 18 and LCES
          to do what no one thought they would do.
          Again they were safe in the black why move.

        • SR says

          Two things, first evasiveness, and second the “Lifeguard/Close Air Support” idea.

          As far as evasiveness, if I tell my life partner I’m heading down to the end of the road, and maybe do, maybe don’t specifically mention the church we attend at the end of the road, I’m not that clear to begin with about where I’m going. But, if she gleans from that, that I’m going to church, and I fail to mention that I’m detouring through a dangerous neighborhood on the way there, she may well feel I was evasive and misleading, even if nothing I expressly said was false.

          Lifeguards/Close Air Support. People are used to going to the pool or beach and simply taking the lifeguard for granted, without having to check in with them. So, I think the idea that Marsh might have been relying on B33 as a “lifeguard,” and that this was prudent and reasonable for someone in his position, sells well to people on the basis of their experience, even if it is a crock in terms of how things actually work. To be clear, just thinking that B33 was a lifeguard/Big Brother watching over GM and that therefore they had things covered would have been grossly irresponsible. And there is no suggestion, based on what we know, that this did occur.

          Likewise, close air support is cool. In the movies, in everything from John Wayne’s Vietnam flick to Saving Private Ryan, it makes for some great scenes. Even in the military, it doesn’t magically make resistance melt away in the real world. And wildland fire is not infantry combat. Marsh relying on B33 to be his Lifeguard (without asking for it) and also thinking that his lifeguard could call down “death from above” onto the fire if needed would be even worse, as a choice of tactic as opposed to a last-ditch effort a few minutes later, than simply relying on Lifeguarding.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Good points all. If there really had been any
            chance of some guy in an airplane even
            having any chance of doing them any good…

            …then that would be the time to give the
            guy all the information you possibly could,
            instead of just some vague, obtuse info.

            It didn’t happen.

            Bravo 33 had NO IDEA where they were
            once they left the anchor point safe black.

            Even in the last moments of his life…
            when Bravo 33 (finally) asks him
            DIRECTLY where he might be located…

            …Marsh remained obtuse until the end.

            Just responding with “Affirm” to a
            DIRECT locational query like “So you’re
            on the south side of the fire then?” means
            Marsh was being obtuse right to the end.

            He COULD have said ( very quickly )…

            “Affirm. 600 yards west of Boulder Springs
            Ranch.”

            He didn’t even do that… right at the end.

  49. Joy A Collura says

    Yesterday at Wickenburg’s Carls Junior, business owners Jerry and Judy to Congress Depot stated that a Yarnell homeowner saw the GMHS come out of the high desert terrain into the community and then went back in—I have never heard that from any of the hundreds of folks we have come in contact with in that community but I believe misinformation and what the homeowner saw was the Blue Ridge boys—but see how people STICK with what they hear first hand from a homeowner and think that is what it is- We, the eyewitness accounts from the fire edge, never saw the GMHS leave that area yet we did see Blue Ridge and other non-blue helmet fire folks over by Sesame/Shrine area from the mountain top. If you are the homeowner that told Jerry and Judy that information that you saw GMHS leave that area and go back in- please come forward and NOTE that they had BLACK helmets. I mean even us 2 did not know who was WHO that day but we did KNOW the helmet colors and where they were located and it took Joanna Dodder to interpret my photos to identify that the men in my photos were actually the GMHS with black helmets. Lets keep the information straight. SMALL TOWNS over here and it seems it can be fed and stretched to great lengths—kind of reminds of the narrative of the SAIR. It has facts in it indeed but sure lacks the details as well. Much missing from it. Sonny says the 1976 Jeep Wagoneer is finally together now with new tires and we are hitting the trails again. Who knows where??? Seems this fire tragedy/mess will take a long time to untangle. Likely, years.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      There were, in fact, at least THREE documented times when
      members of the Blue Ridge Hotshots appeared to ‘come into
      town’ and then ‘go back out west’ again before the final
      evacuations to the Ranch House Restaurant circa 4:30 PM.

      At least one of those times… the ‘black-helmeted’ Brendan
      McDonough was with with driving the GM Supervisor Truck.

      Those times would be…

      ** 1410 – 1439 ( 29 minute period from 2:10 PM to 2:39 PM )

      A 29 minute ( half-hour ) period when BR Supervisor Brian Frisby
      and BR Captain Trueheart Brown exited the Sesame area
      in one of their vehicles ( not the UTV Ranger ) to go on a
      ‘scouting’ trip north on Highway 89. They exited Sesame
      via Lakewood drive, passed through Glen Ilah, turned
      north on Highway 89 at the Ranch House Restaurant, and
      then drove north through Yarnell and ‘off the map’ that was
      tracking their GPS movements at this point. According to
      their notes… they went almost all the way to Peeples Valley
      on Highway 89 to try and assess where the fireline was. They
      were ‘off the GPS map’ for 18 minues ( 1416 – 1434 ). At 1434
      they ‘appear’ on the GPS map again heading back south
      towards Yarnell, then they took a RIGHT onto Shrine road and
      drove all the way west/northwest on Shrine road out to the Old Youth Camp and parked there for 5 minutes.

      ** 1444 – 1508 ( 24 minute period from 2:44 PM to 3:08 PM )

      Blue Ridge Hotshots Brian Frisb and Trueheart Brown exit
      the Old Youth Camp ( still in a vehicle and not the UTV Ranger )
      to go on another ‘scouting’ trip back in town. The exit via
      Shrine road but turn north onto Willow Lane and then scout
      the Flora May Park area for a few minutes. Then they exit to
      Highway 89 and head north again. This time… they only go
      ‘off the GPS map’ for TWO minutes and are seen heading
      back into Yarnell again… but THIS time they take a right
      turn onto Shady Way and head west. Shady Way is a
      ‘dead end’ but they went all the way back ‘scouting’ that
      area for a few minutes. They the exit Shady Way back to
      Highway 89, head ALL the way south to Lakewood drive,
      and then they drive west through Glen Ilah out Lakewood
      ( then Manzanita ) back to the Sesame area where they
      started these ‘scouting trips’.

      During these ‘excursions’ through Glen Ilah and Yarnell…
      Captain Brown may have been wearing his ‘blue’ helmet
      ( but maybe not )… and Brian Frisby never really had a
      blue helmet on at all that day. He was wearing a black
      ‘ball cap’ that day. The actual ‘vehicle’ they were driving
      through town for these trips was PROBABLY one of their
      own ‘utility’ trucks and the same ‘aquamarine’ greenish color
      as the two big Blue Ridge Crew Carriers, but that hasn’t
      been confirmed.

      ** 1541 – 1610 ( 29 minute period from 3:41 PM to 4:10 PM )

      It is now known that the REAL moment when Brian Frisby
      ‘accidentally’ came across Brendan evacuating his lookout
      post and Frisby ‘picked him up’ was at 1541 ( 3:41 PM ) that
      afternoon. This immediately started the ‘evacuation’ of all
      the Blue Ridge and Granite Mountain vehicles from the
      Sesame area. Frisby dropped Brendan off where BOTH
      GM ‘utility’ vehicles were, then dashed east to pick up Captain
      Brown and brought him back to where Brendan had
      already started BOTH the GM Superintendent Supervisor
      Truck AND the GM Chase truck. Captain Brown got in
      the GM Chase truck and that started a ‘convoy’ of vehicles
      that left the Sesame area and exited SOUTH through
      Glen Ilah. That convoy went east through Glen Ilah via
      Manzanita, then Lakewood… but did NOT stop at the
      Ranch House Restaurant. That convoy PASSED the
      Ranch House Restaurant headed north on Highway
      89 at exactly 4:02 PM and the convoy went THROUGH
      town ( Yarnell ), and then WEST on Shrine road all the
      way out to the Old Youth Camp.

      Brendan McDonough was WITH this convoy headed through
      town towards Shrine road and if he was still wearing his
      Granite Mountain helmet… it was BLACK.

      So yes… there were a number of times that day when regular
      people could have claimed they were seeing firefighters
      ‘coming out of’ the Sesame area, heading through town, and
      then ‘going back in again’… but at NO time were these any
      of the Granite Mountain 19 who were out working on that
      western Weaver mountain ridge.

      There is also the fact that the Blue Ridge Hotshots had ‘staged’
      their utility vehicle with the UTV Ranger trailer at a residence
      right there where Manzanita and Lakewood pavement ends,
      ( just west of that gated white fence ) and at various times during
      the day they were ‘returning’ to that spot ( mostly to just refuel the
      UTV Ranger )… and that also would have ‘looked’ like
      firefighters ‘coming out and going back in again’ to the owners
      of the residences right around that spot.

  50. Elizabeth says

    Rory Collins: Rory Collins was the guy serving up in the sky as Air Attack on the fire up until about 3:59 p.m., and Rory Collins has been a bit maligned here and in one or both of the official “investigation” reports. I want to take up a bit of the defense for poor Rory, who was portrayed (wrongly, in my view) in at least one of the reports as inappropriately and abruptly just leaving, disappearing at 3:59 p.m.

    Rory left the fire at 3:59 p.m. because the PILOT who was FLYING the plane for him RAN out of time and had to return to Deer Creek (or Deer Valley or whatever it was). That pilot could NO longer be in the air, according to the relevant regulations/rules. Because of the weather, the relief pilot who was supposed to then meet Rory at Deer Creek at roughly 4 p.m. and take over flying Rory around as Air Attack was GROUNDED. So Rory HAD to leave the fire due to his pilot “timing out,” and, when he and his pilot returned to Deer Creek (or whatever it was), Rory’s relief pilot had not been able to get to Deer Creek to pick Rory UP and go back to the Yarnell Hill Fire to again serve as Air Attack.

    For the record, Rory’s change-out briefing with Bravo33 was just as long as Bravo3′s change-out briefing with Bravo33, so my impression is that, on the Yarnell Hill Fire, the air guys just didn’t spend a whole lot of time briefing each other and instead were working hard together until close to the minute they left.

    For the record, my impression is that Marsh had no idea that Rory Collins left and that Bravo 33 took over the lead plane, air attack role.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Elizabeth post on March 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      >> Elizabeth said…
      >> Rory left the fire at 3:59 p.m. because the PILOT who was
      >> FLYING the plane for him RAN out of time and had to return
      >> to Deer Creek (or Deer Valley or whatever it was). That pilot
      >> could NO longer be in the air, according to the relevant
      >> regulations/rules.

      Correct. ( Deer Valley is where the airstrip was ).

      I also agree with your opinion that the ‘official’ reports ( the
      SAIR in particular ) did Rory Collins a huge disservice by
      not making it clear that it was not HIS decision to ‘abrupty
      leave the fire’ at 1558 ( timestamp according to SAIR report ).

      That being said… there is STILL the following documented
      testimony from Bravo 33 regarding the ‘briefing’ ( or lack thereof )
      from Mr. Collins that day. I will leave it up to WFF people to decide
      for themselves whether the following represents a ‘normal’
      handoff between Air Attacks ( I hope not… but maybe this
      really is how clueless one Air Attack can be when they
      take over from another one in the middle of a fire )…

      SAIT Interview Notes ( page 15 )…
      _____________________________________________________
      INTERVIEW WITH BRAVO 33
      July 9, 2013 – 1700
      Interviewees:
      John Burfiend-ATS Specialist
      Clint Clauson – ATS Trainee
      Thomas French – AT Specialist
      Interviewers:
      Mike Dudley, Brad Mayhew, Tim Foley, Jay Kurth, Jimmy Rocha
      _____________________________________________________
      We had been there about 1 ½ hours when air attack on the scene told us he had to leave. (1700 NM time). It was a strange change out. He just said “you have the fire, I’m leaving”. Not sure if I was talking to structure group 1 or 2. I remember looking up. Talking to ops structural group 1, 2 and ops.

      I knew there was 2 structural groups. I wrote down 2. Tom said “hey dude, you are the air attack”.

      Didn’t know Division A was the superintendent of the Granite Mountain hot shots.

      Air attack didn’t tell me there were resources in the area.

      I never got divisions from the briefing. Didn’t know there were divisions. Thought it was a Type 3 incident. I didn’t recognize Todd’s voice. I didn’t know anybody was taking any action on
      the fire.

      I didn’t know that Blue Ridge was there until we were home watching the news.
      _____________________________________________________

  51. Elizabeth says

    Bravo33 has attested that DivsA (Eric Marsh) *specifically* called Bravo33 to tell Bravo33 where Granite Mountain was going.

    My question to those of you with Hotshot, WFF, or general firefighting experience is this:
    WHY (or “for what possible reasons”) would DivsA (Eric Marsh) specifically call Bravo33 to tell Bravo33 where GM was going? To be clear, DivsA did NOT call Bravo33 in response to Bravo33 first reaching out to DivsA. Rather, DivsA decided to reach out to Bravo33. WHY would he have done that? What are possible reasons?

    • WFF says

      You can normally hit AA by radio without a problem because they’re overhead. He may have called because AA would be able to see them or give a fly over. He may have called because he couldn’t get through to others. AA may have seemed like the lest busy.

      I don’t know the context or timing during the event. When Eric called what did he ask or say?

      • Bob Powers says

        The only thing I have read on the statement from Marsh to B33 was WE ARE GOING DOWN OUR ESCAPE ROUTE TO OUR SAFETY ZONE. that’s it. No leaving the black to go down our escape route to Bolder creek ranch or Helms Ranch— just safety zone. There is no detailed location and that keeps bothering me when you say B33 knew where GM was.

        • Elizabeth says

          Bob, I don’t say in my immediately above post that I believe that Bravo33 knew where GM was going. I am trying to figure out WHY DivsA was TELLING Bravo33 what GM/DivsA was doing (e.g. going down their predetermined escape route toward the Boulder Springs Ranch). What was DivsA trying to accomplish by telling Air Attack (some time between 4:04 and 4:24) that GM was going down their predetermined escape route?

          • Bob Powers says

            Elizabeth– I am concerned you are adding words to what was said. Where are the words predetermined and Bolder Springs Ranch. I have never read that in the B33 statement. Marsh contacted B33 and did a very poor job of telling him where they were
            having said that if his only contact was Air then that was why he contacted him. My concern is what is being assumed in the contact message. and not the actual content. Also I believe if I am not mistaken that B33 and OPS were discussing GM safety and Marsh jumped in with what they were doing. But very ambiguous.

            • Elizabeth says

              Bob, if you can come up with a better reason why DivsA reached out to Bravo33, I will listen. That is why I have been repeatedly reaching out to folks on this, but, thus far, nothing fits with the materials that I have.

              • SR says

                Elizabeth, perhaps simply tell people the answer you want?

                Or, better, disclose what you “have,” and let people with the background to interpret it have their say.

                You in the past have been very critical of journalists for NOT disclosing what they have. I strongly suspect that what you do have is entirely consistent with Marsh being intentionally ambiguous because he knew he was about to be a bit of a cowboy. I also suspect that you have a compelling need to try to put what is very unusual behavior throughout the day back into a “usual” box, as opposed to confronting that there may be a near-miss and eval problem that needs fixing.

    • Bob Powers says

      1. Air was the only frequency Marsh could get out on.

      That is the only reason I can think of. Not enough information to know why.

      Marsh was not specific in his description of where he was and where he was going unless you have a direct statement from B33 that he was told that Marsh and GM left the black the route they were on and where they were headed. I have not seen that any where. That is a need to know statement in B33 interview if it is there I have missed it.

    • SR says

      Elizabeth seems to be assuming that because Bravo33 “attested” to something, that B33′s recall is 100% accurate. No one remembers everything accurately, particularly in stressful situations that become more stressful after the fact. IF B33′s recollection as reported by Elizabeth IS accurate, then, unless I’ve missed something, or Elizabeth is not disclosing something, I haven’t seen anything that has Marsh saying they were headed to the Boulder Springs Ranch. Nor was the specific “escape” route identified, except by mention of the route they came in on that morning. And this was not the route they took down.

      Based upon what is public — and if Elizabeth has further information, she should understand that by fishing for answers as she is, without providing context, she is undermining the usefulness of any response given without having full context — it does seem that B33 was concerned about GM being comfortable where they were, with Marsh then jumping in to explain. Whether GM or Marsh were first contacted by B33 seems unclear. Whichever order of contact occurred, Marsh still did not supply information specific enough for them to know where GM was going or, critically, that GM was about to jump into a bushwhack at a very slow pace, with reversal very difficult, etc.

      Why would Marsh do this? To head off further inquiry, most likely. People all the time give partial answers to avoid fully declaring their plans. I think the answer that Elizabeth WANTS is that Marsh was calling so that B33 knew to keep eyes on GM. Normally, that would require indicating the actual route they were taking and where they were actually headed. Even if Marsh did say that they were headed to the ranch, given the lack of a prepared escape route (even if theories that he was planning on having sawyers clear the route a bit were to be correct, there was no prepared escape route and sawyers could not be much help in that brush), indicating what their route was and asking for assistance would be the normal prerequisites to expecting, or asking for, a lookout.

      • Bob Powers says

        Exactly what I have been saying. If you want you ass dropped on by retardant you get dam specific. If that is why he said where he was that was not a lot to go on.
        I do not believe the air tanker dropped where marsh said if that was even what he meant.

  52. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** SIDE BY SIDE COMPARISON OF
    ** PAUL MUSSER AND TODD ABEL ARIZONA FORESTRY ‘UNIT LOG’ WITH
    ** PAUL MUSSER AND TODD ABEL ‘SAIT INVESTIGATION NOTES’.

    It is perfectly obvious that what the Arizona Forestry Division just released and
    is trying to pawn off as the ‘Paul Musser and Todd Abel combined Unit Log’ is
    actually the same document used by the SAIT investigators in their own
    ( supposed ) ‘Combined Interview with Musser and Abel’ investigation notes
    that they released (earlier) as part of their SAIT FOIA/FOIL package.

    However… something is REALLY STRANGE with regards to the ‘differences’
    between these two ‘almost identical’ documents.

    Remember… the Arizona Forestry Commission has just said that the reason the
    recently released ‘Unit Logs’ ( released on Feb 27, 2014 ) were never included as
    part of the SAIT FOIA/FOIL package release is because ( and this is a direct
    QUOTE from Arizona Forestry Division spokeswoman Carrie Dennett )…

    “These unit logs were NOT part of the official SAIT (Serious Accident
    Investigation Team) investigation.”

    Horseshit.

    It is NOT POSSIBLE for this same Abel/Musser combined ‘Unit Log’ to also be
    appearing as the (supposed) Abel/Musser SAIT interview notes WITHOUT the
    SAIT having had FULL access to it ( and ALL the other unit logs just published…
    whether they, themselves, published any of the content or not ).

    Conversely… if there never really were any Musser/Abel ‘Unit Logs’ and what has
    just been included in this ‘Unit Log’ release package from Arizona Forestry
    Division is nothing but an ‘edited’ version of the SAIT Musser/Abel interview
    notes… then it is a total misrepresentation of fact on the part of Arizona Forestry
    Division.

    If there never really were any Paul Musser or Todd Able Unit Logs, then they
    certainly didn’t need to ‘pretend’ that there were by ‘copying’ the SAIT Interview
    Notes ( but also editing/changing them at the same time ).

    All they had to do was NOT include any ‘Unit Logs’ for Musser or Abel
    at all ( if that really is the truth ).

    So here is the ‘side by side’ comparison of this SAME Paul Musser / Todd Abel
    document now being released under TWO different ‘identities’…

    ‘SAIT Interview Notes’ AND ‘Arizona Forestry Division Unit Log’…

    ** THE SHORT STORY

    The ‘Unit Log’ version has 21 separate ‘bullet item’ entries.
    The ‘SAIT Notes’ version has 28 separate ‘bullet item’ entries.

    So that’s SEVEN ‘extra bullet items’ that appear in the ‘SAIT Notes’ version that
    are nowhere to be found in the ‘Unit Log’ version of the same document.

    Of the 21 entries that BOTH documents have in common, all 21 bullet entries
    from the ‘Unit Log’ version are present in the ‘SAIT Notes’ version, but most of
    those have been EDITED either slightly… or complete rewrites trying to impart
    the same information.

    In other words… there are no ‘bullet entries’ from the ‘Unit Log’ version that do
    NOT appear in the ‘SAIT log’ version of the same document. Only the ‘SAIT log’
    version has ADDITIONAL entries that don’t exist in the ‘Unit Log’ version of
    same document.

    Of those 21 entries that BOTH documents have in common… 10 entries are
    ABSOLUTELY IDENTICAL… *including* grammar and spelling mistakes…
    which is absolute proof that at some point there were both the SAME
    DOCUMENT.

    The remaining 11 entries ( almost half the entries ) show significant
    REWRITES ( NOT standard/legal redactions ) on the part of whoever was
    EDITING these documents. SOME of the rewrites are ‘minor’ and just grammar
    is being changed, and MOST of the rewrites are still actually meant to impart
    the SAME information as the original entry…

    …but SOME of the rewrites significantly change ‘the facts’, or the ORDER in
    which events happened.

    Also… SOME of the ‘rewrites’ specifically REMOVE the names of
    “Paul Musser” and “Eric Marsh”.

    NOTE: These are NOT standard/legal REDACTIONS. They are REWRITES
    specifically intended to HIDE the fact that Musser’s or Marsh’s name was
    EVER used in the OTHER version of the document.

    It is hard to say WHICH document is the actual ORIGINAL, since they are both
    *almost* identical.

    IF the ‘Unit Log’ version came FIRST… then the ‘SAIT Notes’ version represents
    significant ‘additions to the story’ with 8 entire new entries added to the original
    ‘Unit Log’ version and MANY ‘rewrites’ ( NOT redactions ) of the original entries.

    IF the ‘SAIT Notes’ version came FIRST… then the ‘Unit Log’ version represents
    a severely ‘cut down’ version of the original which was achieved NOT via
    standard/legal ‘redactions’… but by significant DELETIONS and (also) MANY
    ‘rewrites’ of the original entries.

    ** THE LONG STORY

    Here is the actual ‘merge’ of the ‘Unit Log’ and ‘SAIT Notes’
    version of the same document.

    ( Don’t worry… it’s not all that long, really ).

    This is what is known as a standard DIFF presentation between two documents.

    Lawyers and Patent Attorneys and Business people who are used to dealing with
    documents that are essentially the same… but with minor changes between
    them ( like contracts and whatnot ) use DIFF runs all the time just to look at
    the ‘changes’ between versions of documents.

    In this DIFF presentation… the documents are compared line-by-line
    ( bullet-item by bullet-item ).

    Basically… every line of the document(s) becomes a separate
    ‘paragraph’ below detailing that ‘line’ from BOTH documents.

    The FIRST line of each paragraph begins with ‘S:’ and
    that means that is the ‘SAIT Notes’ version of that entry.

    The SECOND line of each paragraph begins with ‘U:’ and
    that stands for the equivalent ‘Unit Log’ version that same entry.

    The THIRD ( and subsequent) line(s) of each paragraph begin with ‘D:’ and
    that means ‘DIFFERENCE’. Each of the ‘D:’ lines is just notating what is
    DIFFERENT about each ‘S: SAIT Notes’ entry versus the corresponding
    ‘U: Unit Log’ entry.

    If the S: and U: entries are, in fact, IDENTICAL, then the
    D: note says ‘D: Identical’.

    Once again… the ‘legend’ to use for reading what follows is…

    S: = SAIT Interview Notes entry
    U: = Corresponding Unit log entry
    D: = Difference ( if any ) between the two entries

    And away we go…

    DOCUMENT TITLE(S)…

    S: Yarnell Hill Fire Accident Investigation
    Interviews with Paul Musser OSC and Todd Abel OSC 7/6/13
    U: Yarnell Hill Opps 214
    D: Different titles for (essentially) the same document.
    D: No DATE given for (U) Unit Log version of same document.

    DOCUMENT CONTENT…

    S: Paul Musser and Todd Abel were first called for Type 3
    (unclear as type 3 or type 2 short team) assignment on evening
    of June 29, (6 acres at call time)
    U: Paul Musser and Todd Abel were first called for Type 3
    assignment on evening of June 29, (6 acres at call time)
    D: SAIT added… “unclear as type 3 or type 2 short team”

    S: T. Abel arrived 0600 at Yarnell Fire Station
    U: T. Abel arrived 0600 at Yarnell Fire Station
    D: Identical

    S: Abel began resource tracking
    U: Abel began resource tracking
    D: Identical

    S: 0700 Paul Musser arrived
    U: 0700 Paul Musser arrived
    D: Identical

    S: Discussion with Type 4 IC
    U: Discussion with Type 4 IC
    D: Identical

    S: Granite MTN on scene, in briefed with Abel and E. Marsh. Talked
    about spot weather forecast, current monsoon weather, frequencies, and
    tactics with OSC Abel. Abel and Marsh discussed and agreed that
    Marsh would take Division Supervisor on Division A. J. Steed would
    be the Granite Mountain crew boss. Establish an anchor point was
    their first mission.
    U: Granite MTN on scene, in briefed with Abel and E. Marsh. Talked
    about spot weather forecast, current monsoon weather, frequencies, and
    tactics with OSC Abel. Abel and Marsh discussed and agreed that
    Marsh would take Division Supervisor on Division A. J. Steed would
    be the Granite Mountain crew boss. Establish an anchor point was
    their first mission.
    D: Identical

    S: Gary Cordis was doing structure protection at time.
    U: Gary Cordis is running structure protection on the south end.
    D: Someone rewrote this. Odd minor grammar changes only.

    S: Gary led Granite Mtn. up through dozer line up mtn
    U: Gary led Granite Mtn. to dozer line and old road to access ridge.
    D: Someone rewrote this. Words added/subtracted.

    S: T. Abel staged Blue Ridge at Yarnell Fire Station and then assigned
    Blue Ridge crew to E. March in Division A.
    U: T. Abel staged Blue Ridge at Yarnell Fire Station and then assigned
    Blue Ridge crew to Division A.
    D: Eric Marsh’s name is in SAIT version but NOT in Unit Log version.

    S: T. Abel set up two Structure Protection task forces for structure protection
    U: T. Abel set up two Structure Protection task forces.
    D: Someone added ( or subtracted ) ‘for structure protection’.

    S: Dozer worked road down in the flats.
    U: Dozer worked road down in the flats.
    D: Identical

    S: At about 10:20 am team was assumed command of the fire.
    OSC Abel and Musser flew fire at 1045-1100 am and at that time fire
    was moving to the N – NE. SEATS were working on fire. Around 1200
    first of large air tankers and VLAT arrived.
    U: At about 10:20 am team assumed command of the fire.
    OSC Abel and Musser flew fire at 1045-1100 am and at that time fire
    was moving to the N – NE. SEATS were working on fire. Around 1200
    first VLAT arrived.
    D: Rewrite. SAIT added “was assumed” and “first of large air tankers and”

    S: T. Abel flew fire for the second time, around 1230-1300. At that time, fire
    was active on east flank and head of fire was pushing to the north with a
    horseshoe shape. Fire was pushing towards Model Creek and threatening
    structures.
    U: T. Abel flew fire for the second time, around 1230-1300. At that time, fire
    was active on east flank and head of fire was pushing to the north with a
    horseshoe shape. Fire was pushing towards Model Creek and threatening
    structures.
    D: Identical

    S: Rance Marquez was assigned Division Z and briefed by OSC Abel.
    He was informed to contact Div A and decide on a division break.
    U: Rance Marquez was assigned Division Z and briefed by OSC Abel.
    He was informed to contact Div A and decide on a division break.
    D: Identical

    S: Radio communication with E. Marsh, Division A, on anchor point.
    Marsh stated that he had a good anchor point. T Abel asked Marsh if
    he could see the thunder storms to the south and north of the fire’s
    location, Marsh said yes he could see both of them and said he would
    watch their movement. Marsh called Abel on the cell phone and
    mentioned there was some intense communication between himself
    and Marquez on the Division break between Alpha and Zula. They
    worked it out and the Blue Ridge hotshot crew was assigned to
    Division Alpha. Marsh described Division break to Abel.
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: Paul Musser spoke with the IC about the fire threatening the ICP.
    They moved vehicle to the back of the school to better protect the school.
    The fire was slowed Model Creek road and held at that location.
    U: Paul Musser and the IC talked about the fire threatening the ICP.
    They moved vehicle to the back of the school to better protect the school.
    The fire slowed at Model Creek road and was held at that location.
    Bravo 33 is working air tankers and SEATS including a VLAT
    D: SAIT changed “Musser and the IC talked” to “Musser spoke with the IC”.
    D: SAIT also changed “fire slowed” to “fire was slowed” and “was held”
    D: to just “held”.
    D: Unit log has “Bravo 33 working” sentence here but SAIT does not.

    S: Eric Marsh, Division A, calls Abel on radio and informed OSC that
    winds were starting to get squirrely on top of the ridge. At about this
    same time a Weather Warning was broadcast on Tach 1 from Byron
    Kimball of wind shifts and strong winds.
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: Abel contacted Marsh by radio and asked him if got weather warning
    information and was he in a good spot. Eric responded by saying everyone
    was in the black, Granite and everything was good. At this time Abel held
    up on any further ignition around structures along model creek.
    Bravo 33 is working air tankers and SEATS including a VLAT.
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.
    D: AND… only now the SAIT shows the “Bravo 33 is working” sentence.

    S: Abel requests Bravo 33 to check on Granite Mountain crew.
    Bravo 33 confirms that Granite Mountain crew is in the black. Time????
    U: Abel requests Bravo 33 to check on Granite Mountain crew.
    Bravo 33 confirms that Granite Mountain crew is in the black.
    D: Identical… EXCEPT… SAIT added the extra note “Time????” to the end.

    S: Paul Musser states that fire has now turned and running due east,
    acquired a type 6 engine to protect structures, fire now running south.
    Air attack asked about evacuation of Yarnell. Checked on Blue Ridge
    crew, they were on dozer line. Blue Ridge crews and equipment and
    Granite Mountain equipment were evacuated off the fire.
    U: The fire turned and is and running due east, acquired a type 6 engine
    and other personnel to protect structures on sickles road. The fire
    turned to the south. Air attack asked about evacuation of Yarnell.
    Checked on Blue Ridge crew, they were on dozer line.
    D: Someone rewrote this paragraph.
    D: Paul Musser’s name starts SAIT entry but is MISSING from Unit Log.
    D: SAIT added this to the end… “Blue Ridge crews and equipment and
    D: Granite Mountain equipment were evacuated off the fire.”

    S: Musser hears radio traffic from Eric Marsh, Granite Mountain, that
    said “they were going to pre-determined route to the structures”. Musser
    was not sure who that radio traffic was sent to?
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: LB33 to Todd Abel:
    LB33: Do we need to stop operations and check on guys [GM] in black
    Todd: Yes, they’re in black
    LB-33: Confirm they are good
    Todd: Yes
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: Both Abel and Musser hear very excited radio traffic that was not
    understandable from Granite 7 or a Granite Mountain member on air to
    ground radio frequency. Eric Marsh then came on the radio saying
    “our escape route is compromised and we are deploying shelters”
    on air to ground radio frequencies.
    U: Both Abel and Musser hear very excited radio traffic that was not
    understandable from Granite 7 or a Granite Mountain member on air to
    ground radio frequency.
    D: Identical… EXCEPT entire last sentence in SAIT version which
    D: mentions Marsh is missing from the same Unit Log entry.

    S: Structures were burning in Yarnell, heavy smoke, fire crossed
    highway 89, propane tanks exploding all as search began for the
    Granite Mountain crew.
    U: Structures were burning in Yarnell, heavy smoke, fire crossed
    highway 89, propane tanks exploding all as search began for the
    Granite Mountain crew.
    D: Identical… INCLUDING grammar and spelling mistakes

    S: Abel moved from north end of fire to Yarnell where and incident
    within an incident was set up at the restaurant with Abel acting as
    IC for the burn-over response and set up a medical group with
    triage, treatment and transport. Bravo 33 and other aircraft made
    attempts to get into area of last reported locations of Granite
    mountain crew on high ridge anchor point. Blue Ridge and Prescott
    NF personnel began looking for Granite Mountain crew by ground
    search. Department of Public Safety helicopter first located Granite
    Mountain crew deployment site lower on the mountain and helped
    direct crews on the ground into the site. OSC Abel estimated the
    deployment site was 1 mile from where he thought the Granite
    Mountain Crew was holding up in the black high on the ridge.
    U: Abel moved from north end of fire to Yarnell where and incident
    within an incident was set up at the restaurant with Abel as Granit
    IC for the burn-over response and Musser running all operations
    for the fire. Gary Cortis continued with structure protection with
    the resources not committed to the Granit Incident. Bravo 33 and
    other aircraft made attempts to get into area of last reported
    locations of Granite mountain crew. Blue Ridge and Prescott
    NF personnell began looking for Granite Mountain crew by
    ground search.
    D: “with Abel as Granit IC” in (U) becomes “with Abel acting as IC” in (S).
    D: Basically a total rewrite between (U) and (S), but some same info.

    S: OSC Musser or Abel did not know of the predetermined route
    mentioned by Marsh to the ranch structures of the Granite
    Mountain crew.
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: Some trouble with Command channel radio equipment after incident
    occurred when the resources assembled at restaurant below repeater
    tower. Did not have radio communication problems on fire
    U: Missing
    D: This statement in SAIT Notes is totally missing from Unit Log.

    S: A dust storm warning came again about 2400 that evening after
    the deployments and at 0300 to 0300 winds again shifted and pushed
    the fire to the northeast again burning a few additional structures.
    U: A dust storm warning came again about 2400 that evening after
    the deployments the wind shifted and pushed the fire to the northeast
    again burning a few additional structures.
    D: Someone rewrote this paragraph. ’0300′ times added by (S).

    END OF ‘SAIT NOTES’ AND ‘UNIT LOG’ DOCUMENT COMPARISON

    • WFF says

      I’ve got a couple of questions. Are you taking all the documentation, video, coummunication records and using it side by side to create a total timeline? That seems to be what you’re doing. Would you mind saying what you’re overall view is as to what happened. Just a short brief so I could catch up. I can’t figure it because you’re answering questions and pointing out specifics. You and E seem to have done the most work.

      Did anyone ever track down the dispute between Marsh and DIVZ that occurred on the previous fire? I have heard that they didn’t trust each other and had a personal dislike. I have assumed that is what happened with the division break thing. That may not even have any play anymore, just wondering.

      If this has been gone over sorry I’ve been gone for awhile.

  53. Marti Reed says

    Reply to:
    “calvin
    on March 9, 2014 at 5:54 pm said:
    Which truck was Cory Ball riding in (when he took photo(s))? GM Supt truck or GM chase truck? Neither?

    Thoughts??”

    From doing my visual timeline at the beginning of February, (and I’m doing this out of memory, not looking at anything), Cory Ball walked from where the dozer was working on the cutover between the Sesame area and Shrine Road, west and then south on Sesame where he took a picture of the gate north of the Glen Illah subdivision (where, according to what we have of Blue Ridge notes, Blue Ridge had left their green utility vehicle with the utv trailer attached).

    Then he, according to his notes (which I’m not looking at), connected up with Cordis, I would assume at the Ranch House Restaurant. I’m still wondering if he drove the Blue Ride utility vehicle there. I still don’t know who drove that vehicle to the Ranch House Restaurant, where there is a photo of it in the parking lot.

    His next two photos show him riding shotgun in what I think is a white pickup truck (NOT the Blue Ridge utility vehicle) at the Yarnell Fire Department, where, according to his notes, he went to get a “quad.”

    I originally thought that meant a map, since most of my adult life, a “quad” has meant a map. But WTKTT was right when he theorized that meant a utv. I’m not sure where I found it, but, somewhere in the documentation, it is written that Ball was on a UTV when he went up into Glen Illah. His first shots there (until he photographed the Manzanita street sign) were taken early, but the rest were taken quite a bit later. Apparently it was too dangerous. So he headed back to, I assume, the Ranch House Restaurant. All of the photos he later took started about an hour later. He was on the utv. He was actually there, according to his notes, not to take photos, but to help with the evacuation. This was also taking place when, iirc, Trew was also in that area, trying to find a way in, before Trew gave up and went over to Shrine Road to find access.

  54. Gary Olson says

    WFF said “OK maybe it hasn’t toned down for some. Sorry I brought it to the surface. Nice rant sorry you’re bitter. It won’t help or change anything.”

    Bitter? 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots are DEAD. In 2013. The next highest death toll was 12 hotshots on the Loop Fire. You know…back (if it was not the stone ages of wildland firefighters, it sure was BC, old testament time) in 1966. The biggest difference between the El Cariso Hotshots of 1966 and the Granite Mountain Hotshots of 2013? We know exactly how and why the El Cariso Hotshots died.

    OK, I am bitter. BUT…I have gone to great lengths to explain I am not bitter about my own career. Just a quick reminder. I was a hotshot crew boss (I like the old title) at 23. I founded a hotshot crew. I was a District AFMO. I was a Forest Dispatcher and Coordinator of an Interagency Fire Operations Center at 30. I was a Supervisory Criminal Investigator at 35 after being given a choice of retiring on a medical disability retirement at 29 or taking a job as a Recreation Technician who cleans out outhouses for a living. I retired at 54 with almost 80% of a GS-13 Step 8 Senior Special Agent with 25% LEAP pay (Google it) factored into my retirement working for the Washington Office of my agency with 30 years of Public Safety Retirement status. I still carry a big gold badge and a gun. I helped raise 3 kids (except I was almost always gone) and still have the same wife after 40 years (because I was always gone). I was a frickin’ rock star by USFS Recreation Technician (outhouse cleaner, someone has to do it) standards. I am an obnoxious BRAGGART about my career, not a bitter employee or person. I am a really lucky person (although I have noticed that the harder I fish, the luckier I get).

    Yes, I am bitter about what happened to the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but not for me personally or professionally, don’t you get that? I have my ass hanging out here. This is not about me. This is about the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the kids they are not going raise (my father was killed when I was 3 and my mother never remarried) or will ever have now. The sweethearts they will never be able to marry. The wives they will never grow old with. The parents, siblings and other family they left behind…so abruptly and tragically. The accomplishments this group of men, who by all standards were exceptional is so many ways, will now never be able to accomplish. The outstanding careers so many of them will now never have. The retirements and the old age they will never enjoy…yes, every day is a Saturday. Now, they will never experience that.

    I started on the Prescott National Forest. Prescott is my home town. I wanted my son to be on the Granite Mountain Hotshots last year and this year (good thing he doesn’t listen to me). Yes, I have survivor guilt. I did a lot of stupid things. I broke a lot of rules. Yes…I am bitter. The Granite Mountain Hotshots should not have died. Yes…I know, no one should ever die prematurely, but…the Granite Mountain Hotshots really should not have died, especially in the horrible way they did, and we still don’t know why. This disaster is unprecedented in the history of wildand firefighting. Don’t you get that? Yes…WFF…we have clearly established that I am bitter. I know I am. NOW…WHAT ARE YOU?

    • Gary Olson says

      Oh, and one more thing. Not only did I break a lot of rules. The system rewarded me for it. An old friend reminded me the other day that on the fires we fought…breaking the 10 and the 18 was built into the fire plan.

      • WFF says

        So you’re a hypocrite who likes to bragg and you feel guilty. That’s fine that’s up to you. You’re frustrated that this isn’t black and white. Their are allot of us who would like to know more but we’re not ranting or showing our ass to people who don’t agree with us.

        I’m a current firefighter who realizes this isn’t about me or my creds. So what about we stop taking up space and distracting this conversation with this side bar to nowhere.

        I said a long time ago that I think that one or several of the OH on GM made a terrible decision. I think that there was an incredible amount to pressure on everyone making decisions. I know almost every team OH who has been named in this investigation. As a supervisor I know that no one tells me to do anything, I just simply say nope can’t do that, and offer alternatives. Supervisors may have asked GM to do things but they made the decision to engage. Even if there was pressure, they still had the option. I don’t think for a second that either Eric or Jesse would have knowingly edangered their crews lives because they felt their job was on the line. Don’t believe that. They thought they could get in position to assist and that’s what they did.

        I’m interested in the timeline that several are working on because in the end I think it will turn to be what I think it is. Supervisors asking for anyavailable resources to assit, a IHC that tired to get in position, and a unanticipated mistake that cost lives.

        • Bob Powers says

          The unanticipated mistake—-
          They underestimated the severity of the fire situation.
          Weather fuel and intensity of the blowup at the most critical burn time of the day.
          They then put there selves in unburned fuel at the worst time for fire behavior.
          with forecasted high erratic winds, High temp. and low humidity.
          All the line built that day was totally compromised.
          The fire had turned to a blowup condition, and they decided to take a hike thru unburned fuel.
          SITUATION AWARNESS??????????

            • Bob Powers says

              Lack of SA is a accident or fatality waiting to happen on a fire out of control its time to change your job and never fight fire again. When you don’t have “situation awareness” you are in the wrong occupation…..

              • WFF says

                Hey no kidding. When you ‘re unaware of the potential, right. How many people have you ever encountered that were shocked by what happened to them. That is what I’m pointing out.

        • SR says

          WFF, the phrase “unanticipated mistake” skips over a whole lot. Among other things, finding ways of dealing with patterns of near-misses and reckless behavior more proactively so that similar clusters are less likely to occur in the future, and ensuring better training in the first place. And, the question of whether the survivors of the 19 get taken care of decently after these men were asked to take on hugely outsized risks that are not part of the deal, or whether these mostly lowly compensated seasonal workers are in financial terms treated as disposable. I don’t think anyone believe malice was involved. But, between malice and a completely unforeseeable fluke event like a meteor, there’s a lot of ground to cover. http://vimeo.com/48411010

          • WFF says

            Right I agree with all that. I think FF should have to the best support. No issue with that. Not all accidents are preventable, because we’re human.
            I’m not urging anyone to not try to learn or find out the details. I don’t believe that fatalities are acceptable.

      • Bob Powers says

        My take Gary== I dought you really did that. I’ll agree to disagree with you. You never knowingly would have put your crew in harms way……………..

    • Joy A Collura and Tex (Sonny) Gilligan here says

      we agree with all you said Gary. Sonny had a son too. Killed by a “freak accident” that turned out to be caused by careless maintenance machinery/equipment. We have dedicated our time freely to help anyone that seeks the “truth” of the Yarnell Fire. We have zero agenda. Yes, Sonny has a granddaughter that had to grow up with out a dad and that’s sad. Sonny’s son was the best kid you could ever have-
      under water welder. after his time in the Navy. so full of life and so happy. Well loved and liked by all. So we understand those heroes and they put their lives on the line. They deserve every person to come forward that can help properly assess this so the families can know the truth not narratives or theories—and so that future firefighters have a better chance of surviving.

  55. Elizabeth says

    WTKTT asked about Musser’s request for resources, and I am pretty sure I answered WTKTT on this before, but, maybe not, so here we go. WTKTT asked:
    “WHAT resources was he ASKING for?” He was asking – on behalf of GARY CORDES – for the only TWO resources that Marsh as DivsA had (e.g. the Granite Mountain Hotshots and the Blue Ridge IHC)
    “WHY? What was his stated REASON?” Musser was asking for these “resources” to be bumped to Yarnell or Glen Ilah to help prepare for the eastward marching fire. Presumably burn-outs and such.
    “Did he ask Blue Ridge to fulfill same request?” Yes, but Cordes chimed in to note that he (Cordes) already HAD control over Blue Ridge (and he had them doing the dozer line and some dozer work).
    “Did they refuse?” See above.
    “Did he call Marsh back when they did (IF they did)?” No idea. Presumably Marsh overheard the transmissions/communications noted above.
    “Is that really Musser in the YARNELL-GAMBLE?” I CANNOT believe you are even asking this question. Have you HONESTLY not even tried to do a bit of research regarding audio forensics? Really? Do you know what every other possibly relevant person on the fire sounded like? Otherwise, how (assuming the appropriate audio forensics exist, which they do not) could you rule out everyone else and rule in Musser?
    “At what moment did Musser learn that they really WERE coming?” At the very latest when he overheard Marsh ANNOUNCING this on the radio.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Elizabeth post on March 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      For someone who does a lot of ‘cautioning’ to others about
      making statements without backing them up…

      …that’s a mouthful, counselor.

      Please provide specific references to back up the specific
      claims you are making above.

      What evidence do YOU have that allows you to be so specific?

      As for your continual rants about ‘audio forensics’… the quote
      in question in the Yarnell Gamble video is one that anyone
      with normal hearing who might be familiar with the speaker’s
      voice ( whoever that might be ) SHOULD be able to identify it.

      No one has done so (yet)… but it should be possible.

      Based on the *very* specific claims you yourself are now
      making… my question to YOU would be… who else might
      it have been other than Musser ( or Cordes ) who would
      have been encouraging them to “hurry up” like that, at
      that time?

      It’s a finite list of people, don’t you think?

      • Bob Powers says

        Remember that RTS said Musser was upset because the SAIT left out I believe it was 80 things that were left out that he had stated in the investigation. Maybe so.

    • mike says

      Has Musser stated or written that reason anywhere that we know of? Has he said exactly what mission he had for GM? It is easy to surmise the reason and it does make some sense, but has he come out and actually said it? With what happened, both he and Cordes (as well as Abel), as key overhead in the worst fatality fire for WFF in 80 years, should be expected to provide investigators with a detailed accounting of the events that afternoon, including a full accounting of any and all conversations they had with GM. As I said earlier, maybe that has happened and it has been withheld from the public. In fact, although I might be totally nuts given the legal situation, there is a part of me that thinks Musser may have already met with the families to provide details not made public.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to mike post on March 11, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        >> mike asked…
        >>
        >> Has Musser stated or written that reason anywhere
        >> that we know of?

        No. Nothing that’s been released publicly, anyway.

        >> Has he said exactly what mission he had for GM?

        Nope. ( Again, nothing I know of in the public record ).

        >> It is easy to surmise the reason and it does make some
        >> some sense, but has he come out and actually said it?

        Nope. Nothing I’m aware of.

        >> With what happened, both he and Cordes (as well as
        >> Abel), as key overhead in the worst fatality fire for
        >> WFF in 80 years, should be expected to provide
        >> investigators with a detailed accounting of the events
        >> that afternoon, including a full accounting of any and
        >> all conversations they had with GM.

        It is still inconceivable ( for the reasons you state ) that
        this did NOT happen. Knowing about it is another story.

        >> As I said earlier, maybe that has happened and it has
        >> been withheld from the public.

        …and maybe Elizabeth DOES have this ( evidence ).
        There’s no telling unless she comes out and says so.

        >> In fact, although I might be totally nuts given the legal
        >> situation, there is a part of me that thinks Musser may
        >> have already met with the families to provide details
        >> not made public.

        It’s possible.

    • Marti Reed says

      “to help prepare for the eastward marching fire.” ??? When, at this point, was the fire marching eastward???

      “Yes, but Cordes chimed in to note that he (Cordes) already HAD control over Blue Ridge (and he had them doing the dozer line and some dozer work).” Source??

  56. George DeLange says

    Something about this time line doesn’t seem right to me.

    I was leaving the area about 2000 feet to the east of where they are said to have deployed.

    I checked the time it was 4:03 PM.

    The area, west of me, where they are said to have deployed was already burned.

    I had to drive east to leave the area and the flames were already about 200 feet northeast of me and moving southwest toward me as I left.

    Can anyone explain this to me?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to George DeLange post on March 11, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      >> Mr. Delange wrote…
      >>
      >> Something about this time line doesn’t seem right to me.
      >> I was leaving the area about 2000 feet to the east of where
      >> they are said to have deployed.
      >> I checked the time it was 4:03 PM.
      >> The area, west of me, where they are said to have deployed
      >> was already burned.
      >> I had to drive east to leave the area and the flames were
      >> already about 200 feet northeast of me and moving southwest
      >> toward me as I left.
      >>
      >> Can anyone explain this to me?

      I will try.

      When you say you were ‘leaving the area’ I’m going to assume
      you mean your home in Glen Ilah… which is exactly here…

      Latitude: 34.218639
      Longitude: -112.762250

      34.218639, -112.762250

      105 Westward Drive, Glen Ilah, Arizona.

      That is actually 4695 feet ( as the bird flies ) from the
      exact center of the actual deployment site. ( 8/10ths of a mile ).

      >> I checked the time it was 4:03 PM.
      >> The area, west of me, where they are said to have deployed
      >> was already burned.

      Then whatever you were checking the time on was not correct.

      The actual time had to have been much later than 4:03 PM.

      There is an abundance of photographic and VIDEO evidence
      to prove this.

      Brendan McDonough’s complete photos from that day are here…

      https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mmb98r3j53s2urp/8NlvN5hDdm

      The LAST THREE photos on that page were all taken at exactly
      4:02 PM that day, looking WEST from Highway 89 at the exact
      point where Fountainhill Road in Glen Ilah meets Highway 89.
      ( Just a little north of the Ranch House Restaurant ).

      Those THREE photos are…

      20130630_160204.jpg – ( Taken at 4:02 PM + 4 seconds )
      20130630_160206.jpg – ( Taken at 4:02 PM + 6 seconds )
      20130630_160208.jpg – ( Taken at 4:02 PM + 8 seconds )

      The photos were taken with Brendan Mcdonough’s
      Samsung SCH-I535 Smartphone, which was automatically (digitally) time-stamping his photos. The timestamps on
      Brendan’s photos have already been determined to be
      accurate that day.

      Brendan’s photos CLEARLY show the fire ‘approaching’ Yarnell
      and Glen Ilah at 4:02… but actually still quite some hundreds of
      yards away, perhaps even more than 1000+ yards away.

      The general ‘area’ where the deployment took pace ( 638 yards
      west of the Boulder Springs Ranch ) is actually somewhat
      visible on the left side of Brendan’s photos and the sky is actually
      still mostly ‘clear’ over that area at 4:02 PM… though the fire is
      most definitely ‘advancing’ in that direction.

      There are also the Christopher MacKenzie VIDEOS themselves,
      which clearly show where the ‘fireline’ was in the 4:02 PM
      timeframe.

      The MacKenzie videos definitely show the fire was now heading
      to the southeast, towards Yarnell and Glen Ilah in the 4:02 PM
      timeframe… but it had not YET even crossed the ‘Sesame Trail’
      two-track road that runs east to west out there to the northwest
      of Yarnell.

        • George DeLange says

          Thanks for the information.

          The timeline just didn’t make sense to me.

          I must agree with you that I most likely made a mistake when I looked at my phone’s time.

          I was in a hurry to get out, as I had no notice that there was an evacuation until the sheriff deputy told me to get out. We left in less than 5 minutes, & had to drive toward the flames and eventually within about 15 feet of the flames to get out.

          So the time was not the most pressing thing on our minds.

          I have to agree with you that I must have gotten it wrong.

          Thanks for your help.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Reply to George DeLange post
            on March 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

            Mr. DeLange… based on your descriptions
            of your evacuation and the conditions on
            Westward drive at that time… it is perfectly
            possible that it may have been 4:43 PM.

            Easily mistaken for 4:03 PM.

            A neighbor of yours from a little farther west
            in Glen Ilah was evacuating right at 4:43 PM
            and he videoed his own exit from Glen Ilah.

            The conditions YOU describe match exactly
            what is seen in his video as he exited Glen
            Ilah and even passed by your home.

            That video is here…
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_AjhL448ZA

            His actual evacuation from the west side
            of Glen Ilah begins at +58 seconds into
            this video. The time is 4:43 PM but it is
            completely DARK because of the smoke
            cloud over the west part of Glen Ilah.

            He is evacuating from this exact address…

            22906 Ridgeway Dr, Yarnell, AZ 85362

            Latitude: 34.217616
            Longitude: -112.764221

            34.217616, -112.764221

            WARNING: Strong language in this video.

            • George DeLange says

              Yup!

              That’s just about the same thing I saw. He must have been just a little bit behind me in the line going out.

              It’s hard to explain how hot the smoke filled air was. It even burned my lungs when breathing it. And then the darkness was really strange.

              In fact, the electricity went out as I went into the house to yell at my wife to get out. It was so dark I had trouble finding the few things I grabbed to take with me.

              My dog was smarter than me, she kept looking at me like, when are we getting out!

              I want to thank all of you who have helped me to understand the time line.

              Regards

              George DeLange

          • Joy A Collura and Tex (Sonny) Gilligan here says

            George-
            others have shown us with documents a similar time you shared—if you made calls to anyone and you remember where you were when the call was or any photos/video—this is the stuff the public needs. Accounts are fine yet it needs to be backed-up with documents to make it straight/spot on facts.

      • Joy A Collura and Tex (Sonny) Gilligan here says

        George DeLange is not the only homeowners with documentation as well that has a different time line for that day. It is coming out that there is more folks that show a different life account of that 3-5pm hours and that the fire reached before so those folks are the ones for I have seen photos in person and George is very credible and as well as others with their documents. I just wish there was a link they can send the PUBLIC so they the public can view their documents/photos/videos and that has been my Y O U comments I post time to time. Those people have key information to better help the PUBLIC properly assess that day. I hope as time unfolds more folks share what they shared to me. It takes documentation I told them all along. Words do not lay too heavy with me especially after Jerry and Judy from Congress Depot were told GMHS came out and went back in by a homeowner—we need to SHOW the PUBLIC the information that for some reason you felt at ease to show the eye-witness account folks; us.

  57. calvin says

    WTKTT…..P30 Dan Philbin unit log …. Tied in with Div (Rance) and headed to Yarnell. Talked with Clawson and headed to Shrine Rd. Helped get citizens out. Heard emergency traffic on A/G.

    This is a follow up to an earlier conversation. It doesn’t appear that Marquez/Philbin were at the IC shortly after 1630. They were on Shrine Rd.

    There is a pretty long list of people on Shrine Rd during this period of time, even Tony Sciacca.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to calvin post on March 11, 2014 at 3:42 am

      >> calvin said…
      >>
      >> WTKTT…..P30 Dan Philbin unit log …. Tied in with Div
      >> (Rance) and headed to Yarnell. Talked with Clawson and
      >> headed to Shrine Rd. Helped get citizens out. Heard
      >> emergency traffic on A/G.
      >>
      >> This is a follow up to an earlier conversation. It doesn’t appear
      >> that Marquez/Philbin were at the IC shortly after 1630. They
      >> were on Shrine Rd.

      Well… it says they ‘headed to Shrine Rd.’ ( from all the way
      up at the ICP ), but I’m not so sure they ever made it there.

      If they were with Clawson, Hulburd and Yowell on the
      Shrine road when they say the ‘heard emergency traffic
      on A/G’… then why aren’t we actually SEEING them in
      the Helmet-Cam video?

      Maybe they HAD been there ( moments before ), but then
      just followed the Blue Ridge convoy out of there just
      moments before the Helmet-Cam video was shot.

      >> There is a pretty long list of people on Shrine Rd during
      >> this period of time, even Tony Sciacca.

      Yes. It was a busy place. I’m still surprised that we ONLY
      see Clawson, Hulburd and Yowell in that Helmet-Cam
      video. Everyone else who had been there must have moved
      on just moments before Hulburd started shooting that video.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Which actually has always raised an interesting question.

        Why did Hulburd begin shooting his Helmet-Cam video
        at that exact moment… just seconds before he was
        about to capture GM’s final transmissions?

        Was that totally, purely coincidence?…

        …or is there really MORE to the START of that video
        such as more captured conversation between ground
        and Bravo 33 leading up to Steeds first MAYDAY?

        It would be interesting to hear Hulburd himself simply
        explain why he chose that one moment ( and only
        moment? ) all day to use his Helmet-Cam.

        Also… was that really the ONLY time Hulburd used
        his Helmet-Cam that day? Just that one time?

        Hulburd was a participant in the ground rescue mission
        along with Clawson, Yowell, BR Supt Frisby and BR
        Captain Brown.

        Did he ever turn that Helmet-Cam on during the full
        hour they were out there searching for GM?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      >> Reply to calvin post on March 11, 2014 at 3:42 am
      >>
      >> This is a follow up to an earlier conversation.

      Yes… it was about Marquez’s new unit logs and some of the
      things he says he did like “Calling Eric to ask if he could hear
      the helicopter”.

      I went back and listened to the entire Helmet-Cam video.

      Radio traffic heard in that video seems to indicate that
      Hulburd’s radio was ‘scanning’ and capturing at least all
      of the following frequencies at that moment…

      Air to Ground
      TAC 2
      TAC 3

      The ONLY person heard in that entire video ‘asking’ Eric
      if he could ‘hear the helicopters’ ( on any channel Hulburd
      was scanning ) is Bravo 33.

      If Marquez really did ‘jump in’ and was asking Eric if he could
      hear the chopper… either he did it AFTER the Helmet-Cam
      video ended or it was on some channel that Hulburd wasn’t
      scanning.

      I doubt that Marquez had GM’s intra-crew frequency, since
      his whole problem earlier in the day was that he had to
      borrow other people’s radios just to talk to Marsh… but maybe
      he had their intra-crew frequency by this time ( 1640 ).

  58. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** THINGS TO NOTE FROM THE NEWLY RELEASED UNIT LOGS
    ** PART 1

    Those new ‘unit logs’ are available here…

    http://www.investigativemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Unit_Logs-provided-on-2-27.pdf

    ——————————————————————————————————-
    ** There WAS a ‘Line Safety Officer’ on duty before GM moved…
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    Tony Sciacca ( from Prescott ) who was hired as ‘Line Safety Officer’,
    had, in fact, ‘checked in’ and was working the Yarnell Hill Fire in that
    capacity as early as 1500 ( 3:00 PM ) on Sunday, June 30, 2013.
    ( It was Mary Cole, the other ‘safety officer’ who didn’t even arrive in
    Yarnell until just before the deployment because he had been waiting
    in Prescott most of the day for his ‘order’ to arrive before he ever
    left Prescott for Yarnell ).

    ——————————————————————————————————-
    ** More detail ( but more confusion ) about what happened Saturday…
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    From Russ Shumates ‘narrative’ style unit log for Saturday, June 29, 2013…

    1530-1630 – Lewis crew started to report creeping fire on the west side of the
    fire in the rocks on the steep slope. I determined that more folks were needed
    on the hill, and thunderstorm buildup was not moving our way. The altitude
    density was going to affect how many folks per load however. I directed a
    sling load of bladder bags be sent up, and half the helitack crew shuttle up.
    During this operation a green island on the east side of the fire started to flare
    up. The Lewis crew moved to address this and the bladder bags were set
    down near them. SW winds increased at this point and the flare up spotted
    over the road.

    NOTE: If the bladder bags really were set down right where the ‘flare up’
    was taking place then I imagine the rotor wash from the chopper didn’t help
    much, either. Nothing like a good rotor wash to help cool down a flare-up.

    1600 – Spot across the road was established and crews were having a difficult
    time hooking it. Slop was (now) approximately 1-2 acres. Ordered AA and
    SEATS to launch. Ordered Yarnell Fire Department ( YFD ) Water Tender to
    utilize for creation of a dip site for potential bucker work.

    NOTE: So only AFTER the slopover had reached 1-2 acres did Shumate
    make his first move that day to even try and prepare for some bucket drops.
    Chief Dan Andersen ( former YFD Fire Chief ) had already told them on Friday
    night that’s what they should have been doing first thing that morning and be
    done with it.

    1800 – send Justin Smith ( ICT4 Traineee ) up to the fire, and prep the rest of
    Lewis crew to fly up as well. Change command structure to the following:
    Justin Smith no longer ICT4(t), he will be DIV A on the hill. Peck, a carded ICT4
    from helicopter 4HX helitack, will be Operations on the hill. Phone call with Peck
    explains what I want as the command structure. I indicate my strategy is anchor
    and flank the east flank working with aviation. Stay direct and the black is the
    safety zone. I am now expecting the forces on the hill to stay up all night, and
    ask Peck to get a supply list together so supplies can be delievered as the rest
    of the Lewis crew is shuttled up.

    1730 – 1830 – Shuttle up supplies, but fire is below helispot so helitack person
    at helispot is picked up, and crew shuttle cancelled. Operations continue on
    the hill, anchor and flank east flank with a total of 14 folks on the hill. Start
    ordering up forces for tomorrow. Operations expected to last all night, so a
    replacement ICT3 is ordered. Paul Musser was going to be the one to fill this
    order.

    NOTE: So, somehow, Shumate KNEW he needed more crew up there and
    was then somehow able to get Justin Smith ( and supplies ) flown up there at
    1800… but in the same timeframe he says he had to cancel the additional crew
    shuttle(s) and couldn’t find a way to get the additional crew up there some other
    way?

    ALSO NOTE: Nowhere in Shumate’s ‘unit log’ narrative does he EVER
    mention that the crew that was up there trying to catch that slopover totally
    ran out of chainsaw gas and became almost ‘useless’ at that point.
    He also says he was able to ‘shuttle up supplies’ in the 1730-1830 timeframe
    but was then somehow unable to even get these guys any chainsaw gas
    while they are trying to ‘catch’ the slopover in that same timeframe?

    He was able to get the Gatorade and MREs up there… but not chainsaw gas?

    WTF?

    ——————————————————————————————————-
    ** Darell Willis was with Brendan Mcdonough shortly after deployment
    ——————————————————————————————————-

    This is also the first we have heard that Darrell Willis…

    1) Specifically ‘heard’ the deployment transmissions in ‘real time’.

    2) Specifically ‘tied in with’ Brendan Mcdonough right after the deployment
    and was talking to him even at the point where the ‘search’ was taking
    place and no one knew where GM really was.

    The only mention in Willis’ SAIR interview notes of what he did in this
    same timeframe is that he only heard about the deployment when
    Todd Abel called him to tell him, and that the only thing he did then was
    ‘drive around to Yarnell side of fire’ to ‘pray for the crew’. There is no
    mention of anything he did or didn’t do after that.

    Actually, the ONLY thing that is (now) mentioned in his own unit log
    notes that ended up in his SAIT interview notes is the blub about
    Abel calling him on his cell phone AFTER the deployment.

    ** From Darrell Willis’ SAIT interview notes…

    - Chief Willis got a call from Todd Abbel informing him of the Granite Mtn.
    shelter deployment (4:40- 4:45).
    - Next thing he does is drive around to Yarnell side of the
    fire and pray for the crew

    ** From Darrell Willis’ typewritten table-style unit log…

    1640: Heard radio conversation about deployment.
    1647: Operations Able calls me on my cell phone and asks if I heard what is
    going on, he told me what he knew.
    1655: I called TF Moser and informed him that I wanted him to take the Division,
    to hold the fire with the resources on Model Creek Road and to pick up slop overs.
    1715: I responded to Yarnell and tied in with Operations Able and monitored radio
    traffic on Incident within an Incident.
    1745: Tied in with GMIHC lookout McDonough to determine his welfare.

    NOTE: Willis doesn’t say WHERE he ‘tied in with McDonough’, how much
    time he spent with Brendan at that point… or what they talked about.

    At 1745, both DPS helicopter Ranger 58 AND the 5 person ground rescue team
    were still frantically searching for Granite Mountain and were still uncertain where
    they might be. More specifically… at 1745, Ranger 58 was actively just still
    searching over near the anchor point and at that same moment the ground
    rescue team was also just ascending the ridge over near the anchor point,
    also totally confused about where to even begin looking for them.

    1745 was still the time that if ANYONE had any *real* idea where Granite
    Mountain might have actually deployed… or what route they had really been
    taking when they did… they should have been saying so.

    It would not be for another half-hour ( around 1815 ) that Ranger 58 would even
    ‘accidentally’ find them down in the box canyon and radio out the coordinates.
    The fatalities were only then eventually confirmed another 25 minutes later
    circa 1835.

    • calvin says

      The impression I have been left with concerning the delay in finding GM was that there was simply too much smoke to get into the area where they were. Plain and simple.

      • Elizabeth says

        You are correct, Calvin (as I understand it).

        Remember the Holloway fire, where a crew member became separated from the crew “partially due to a weather event resulting in a 180 degree wind switch along with high winds that spread fire outside of control lines and reduced visibility to near zero.” Reduced VISIBILITY to near ZERO.
        On the Yarnell Hill Fire, even when the visibility in the deployment valley improved enough to finally allow the helicopter to get in and start looking *there* for GM, the smoke and ash was so *still* so bad that the aircraft was ultimately damaged.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        calvin ( and Elizabeth )…

        There is a BIG difference between being ABLE to get to
        where they were… and KNOWING where they were.

        In this case… lack of knowledge for the the latter still
        seems to precede the former.

        There is no real evidence that ANYONE actively involved
        in searching for Granite Mountain for more than an
        hour and a half ( 1700 to 1815, when Ranger 58
        ‘accidentally’ found them ) had ANY *real* idea where
        they might be. Best they could do was go back to the
        anchor point and just hope that’s where they were.

        Yes… the burnover zone remained ‘hot’ and GETTING
        to their exact location was/would have been problematic
        even if they DID know where they deployed…

        …but again… KNOWING where they were came first.

        Even when Eric Tarr was ‘let down’ by Ranger 58
        ( after two failed attempts to land right near the deployed
        shelters ) in that little clearing just north of the Boulder
        Springs Ranch… Eric Tarr said he had to stick his
        ‘camel pack’ in his mouth just to be able to breathe…

        SAIT Interview Notes ( YIN ) – Page 25
        Interview with Ranger 58
        “At 1812 they saw clusters of shelters. No movement. Chip did see some bodies outside of the shelters. 2-3 shelters weren’t on at all. It was moon scaped. Pilot wanted to sit Eric down but had a hard time figuring out where. Landed 300-400yds north of the ranch. 1815 Eric jumped out of the ship. Looking back it was too soon, very hot had to stick my camel pack in my mouth in order to breathe.”

        Also… when they first started searching at 7:15,
        Eric Tarr also says the ONLY clue they had where
        to start searching was the spot where the pilot,
        Clifford Brunsting, was pretty sure he had seen
        them working much earlier in the day on a recon flight.

        The anchor point ( WEST side of the fire ).

        No one else was giving them any other clue ( or
        reminding them that Marsh had ‘affirmed’ they
        were on the SOUTH side of the fire, and NOT at
        the original anchor point ).

        Both Eric Tarr and pilot Clifford Brunsting said that the
        anchor point area was also still ‘covered with heavy
        smoke’ when they arrived there… but that didn’t stop
        them at all. They still started searching that (wrong)
        area as best they could despite the ‘heavy smoke’.

        What is still astounding is that at 7:15, Ranger
        58 was given clearance to launch by Air Attack (Bravo 33),
        but apparently even Air Attack didn’t even try to make
        it clear to Ranger 58 that the last thing these men ever
        said was that they were ‘on the SOUTH side of the fire’.

        At 1641.30…

        B33: Okay, copy that. So, you’re on the SOUTH side
        of the fire, then?
        Eric Marsh( his last known word ): Affirm!
        B33: K… we’re gonna bring you the VLAT, okay?

        So forget about anyone on the GROUND trying to make
        it clear where anyone should be searching…

        …for more than an hour ( after Ranger 58 launched
        at 7:15 ) Air Attack itself didn’t even make any attempt to
        make sure Ranger 58 or the ground rescue team knew
        what they knew back around 1641.30?

        That they should PRIMARILY be looking on what would
        have been the SOUTH side of the fire circa 1641.30?

        That’s still hard to believe.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Correction ( typos ) above.

          Ranger 58 was given clearance to launch and
          begin searching for GM at 1715 ( 5:15 PM)…

          …and not ’7:15′ as I was accidentally typing above.

          Ranger 58 actually ‘lifted off’ the ground at
          1716 ( 5:16 PM )… a full 31 minutes after the
          actual burnover at the deployment site.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Typo in original (parent) posting above.

      The other person hired to be a ‘safety officer’ that day, other
      than Tony Sciacca ( who is now known to have been there
      and ‘on duty’ in a ‘line safety officer’ capacity as early as
      1500 ( 3:00 PM ) that day )…

      was Marty Cole ( not ‘Mary’ Cole as I accidentally type above ).

      Marty Cole was the ‘safety officer’ who didn’t even arrive in
      Yarnell until just before the deployment because he had simply
      been waiting to leave Prescott for Yarnell until his ‘work order’
      showed up ( via email, I assume ).

  59. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** NEW UNIT LOGS

    A few days ago, Mr. John Dougherty published the ‘new’ unit logs that have
    (finally) been released by the Arizona Forestry Division in accordance with
    Arizona law.

    They are now (publicly) available here…

    http://www.investigativemedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Unit_Logs-provided-on-2-27.pdf

    These are (apparently) the originals from any number of people that
    were working the Yarnell Hill Fire that day including the actual original ‘unit
    logs’ from people like Darrell Willis, Paul Musser, Todd Abel, Gary Cordes,
    Corey Mosser, Tyson Esquibel, Byron Kimball, Tony Sciacca, Marty Cole, Brad
    Zeitler, Dan Philbin, Russ Shumate, Rob Beery, etc.

    The astounding thing(s) about these ‘unit logs’ only now appearing, and NOT
    having been part of the original FOIA/FOIL request for ALL the information
    the SAIT used in their investigation comes in two parts…

    1) AFD says that these original personnel ‘unit logs’ were NOT part of the SAIT
    investigation at all… yet any number of these ‘unit logs’ were reproduced
    word-for-word in the SAIT’s own ‘Investigative Notes’… which WERE part of
    the FOIA/FOIL release.

    Example: AFD says that none of these ‘unit logs’ were part of the SAIT
    investigation… and therefore not subject to that FOIA/FOIL release… but the
    (combined) ‘unit log’ for OPS1 Todd Abel and OPS2 Paul Musser are simply
    reprinted in full as their own (supposed) ‘Interview notes’ with Musser and Abel.
    So that means the SAIT investigators most probably DID see/read all of
    these ‘unit logs’ ( which means they WERE all ‘part of their investigation ), but
    they only ‘cherry picked’ the ones they wanted to ‘officially’ use such as the
    Abel/Musser log.

    2) AFD says the reason the release of these personnel ‘unit logs’ took so long is
    because of the ‘redaction work’ that was needed. In fact… it doesn’t appear that
    any of this ‘redaction work’ they say was ‘taking so long’ was ever done at all
    since they managed to still leave a bunch of PHONE NUMBERS in the released
    material itself. So even if the ‘redaction work’ is what was taking so long… they
    did a pretty piss-poor job no matter how much time they were taking. There are
    also no ‘blacked out’ sections in this recent release at all so either that means
    the work was never done at all or their idea of ‘redactions’ was to simply
    REMOVE entire documents from the release.

    Mr. Dougherty himself has now asked AFD for a full ‘accounting’ of what
    documents and/or information is still being ‘withheld’ from valid Arizona Public
    Document Requests…but the Arizona Forestry Division has ( so far ) not even
    responded to his request.

    There is a LOT of new ( and previously unknown ) information in these new ‘unit
    logs’ and I’m sure there’s more to come on all of this.

    • mike says

      I am sorry, when I first looked at those logs, I did not even recognize the Musser/Abel one as being their “unit logs”. It is a combined document, written in the 3rd person, typed, and missing so many crucial details that it would almost appear for certain that huge swaths of the original were “redacted” without us being able to see that fact. In other words, I believe it is not an original document or anything close to the original documents, but something the SAIT created on its own from the originals. I am beginning to believe some of these people I/we have been criticizing as not being forthcoming may have been much more so then we have realized, and then the SAIT just buried what it did not want known. So when it comes to the Musser/Abel log, I think one should realize that what we do read is exactly what the SAIT wanted us to.

      • mike says

        Specifically, I am completely convinced the SAIT knew of the Musser request and redacted it.

        I saw WTKTT’s comment that the “logs” were their reprinted interview notes, which is true. I thought I had seen them before. But no doubt there were written unit logs. That just means they completely withheld them and substituted those interview notes, which frankly are an absolute joke.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to mike post on March 11, 2014 at 5:41 am

          mike… you are absolutely right.

          The fact that the (supposed) ‘unit logs’ for Musser
          and Abel are identical to the (supposed) interview
          notes for Musser and Abel makes this one little
          mystery work BOTH ways. It means…

          EITHER…

          There never really were any proper ( separate )
          ‘unit logs’ from either Musser and Abel… and
          the SAIT just ‘interviewed them’ together and
          came up with those obtuse ‘SAIT interview
          notes’ for them… and those ‘interview notes’
          are now being pawned off as their ‘unit logs’…

          OR…

          Musser and Abel really did submit proper (separate)
          unit logs… and those are still being ‘withheld’
          by Arizona Forestry Division and they are just
          ‘faking’ it by borrowing the SAIT notes.

          More and more… the ‘missing pieces’ really
          do come down to Musser.

          It’s still an absolute mystery why that one little
          quote that he ‘asked if they could spare resources’
          ONLY appeared in the ADOSH report… but that
          there isn’t even more to that.

          - WHAT resources was he ASKING for?
          - WHY? What was his stated REASON?
          - Did he ask Blue Ridge to fulfill same request?
          - Did they refuse?
          - Did he call Marsh back when they did (IF they did)?
          - Is that really Musser in the YARNELL-GAMBLE
          video urging them to “please hurry”?
          - If that really is Musser urging them to “hurry”
          circa 1620… then how did we get from him
          being turned down to him KNOWING they
          were coming now and he wants them to hurry?
          - At what moment did Musser learn that they
          really WERE coming?
          - Etc… etc…

  60. J. Stout says

    WTKTT:

    You stated in your post at 12:55 a.m. the following: “The ‘C’ in LCES – Communicating clearly and effectively. It didn’t happen … and when it doesn’t … people can DIE.

    Absolutely.

    Something else has been coming into focus for me recently. Doesn’t have to do with LCES or the 10 & 18, however, it does seem (at least to me, anyhow) to fall into the same type of category … where “if it doesn’t happen, people can die.”

    What I am speaking of specifically is this:

    It’s the apparent lack of regard/respect that some personnel on the YHF had for what their Air Support people were telling them.

    I can recall, a couple of Chapters ago here, finding it rather uncharacteristic and odd that something of this nature occurred, involving a certain top level fire commander no less. Now, however, it seems that the actions of a particular ground crew (being GM) indicates one more example of this as well.

    It is air support who has those ‘eyes in the sky’ with a view of the fire no one else has. And yet, astounding as it seems to be, on the YHF, when one of them contacted a certain OPS with a question about taking a time out so he could go check on GM because he had concerns, he was quite promptly told it wasn’t necessary. This is where I’d like very much if current and retired WFF’s could swiftly correct me if I am wrong on this, but hasn’t it generally been the case that when one of your air support people calls a fire boss or fire commander and says something like, “Would you like me to do (this-or-that),” … what they are really doing is saying, politely, “I think you need to take action on this, because I think this is something that needs to be done.” And when he called OPS he knew just how busy everything was at that time and how critical every single second devoted to what was going on happened to be, hell yes, of course. Which means THAT should have raised a red flag about his call, and what he was saying, right there. It’s utterly mystifying why the response he got was nowhere close to something akin to, “If it looks TO YOU like that is what needs to be done …”

    Now, as I am understanding it, along comes more info showing that, with regards to GM, it seems that B33 said he could see them there on ‘the corner’ (of the fire) and they (quote) “kept saying they were comfortable” … but B33 then said that (to him) that was (quote) “NOT CREDIBLE.”

    IF the “kept saying they were comfortable” is what GM was communicating to B33 (please correct me if I happen to be misunderstanding this) it indicates B33 had questions about it … sounds like more than one concern. And yet, in spite of it (and it’s almost too gut-wrenching to contemplate or talk about, so I’m hoping perhaps I am wrong on this) here is an entire HS crew with absolutely no one serving as “L” in LCES and their conversation sounds like they’re discounting and ignoring the concerns of not only a highly qualified professional in this business but one who was able to see what they could NOT. During a time of extreme fire conditions/behavior … during a time when they were planning to move out of the black or had already begun to do so.

    It is all beyond being ‘unfathomable’ to me. However, I am becoming more convinced with each passing day that, along with the LCES and the 10 & 18, if you don’t pay attention to the professionals who are your Air Support, people can die.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to J. Stout post on March 10, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      First off… let me save other people who might be reaching for
      their keyboards (again) to remind everyone about things like
      ‘the state of audio forensics’ and whatnot that I would be the
      first one to admit that what I am SURE I ( me, personally )
      am hearing at the start of that AIR STUDY video has not
      been ‘confirmed’. I don’t know what is even going to constitute
      ‘confirmation’ on that… ( other than re-interviewing ASM2 and
      ALL those other people who WERE talking on the radio at 1616 )
      but I am equally sure that I am accurately reporting what I
      ( me, personally ) am hearing.

      So I ( me, personally ) accept your ‘quotes’ above because
      that is what I am hearing… and I ( me, personally ) already
      believe fully those ‘conversations’ ( or something just like
      them ) actually took place around that time.

      I DO believe that ( circa 1616 ) ASM2 was ‘asked to check’ on GM.

      I DO believe they did that, saw them ( in their words ) “behind
      those hills’ and “on the corner of the fire”, and reported back.

      I DO believe that ASM2 then expressed their ‘concern’ about
      them and ASKED ground to check on them themselves RIGHT
      AWAY and see if this DIVS A person who ASM2 was hearing
      from was actually WITH them or not, because he wasn’t sure.

      I DO believe that ground did that, and got nothing but more
      obtuse and ineffective communications from both Marsh
      and Steed.

      I am not only sure what I am hearing ASM2 say about how
      he doesn’t BELIEVE they could keep saying they are
      ‘comfortable’ down there based on the fire behavior he is
      now seeing… my hearing is good enough that I am also sure
      I can also actually hear his frustration ( almost anger ) with
      them but he is way overloaded at this point and that’s why he
      TELLS them to go check on them… RIGHT NOW. He really
      WAS concerned ( but damn busy ).

      You don’t even need this stupid AIR STUDY video to put that
      puzzle together, either. There are, in fact, OTHER documented
      exchanges that indicate the same thing was happening right
      around that time.

      Like this one from Bravo 33′s own SAIT interview…

      Got a call from Division A stating they were going down their escape route to the safety zone. Didn’t know Division A was the superintendent of the Granite Mountain hot shots. Asked him “is everything OK?” He replied “everything is ok, just heading to the safety zone”.

      Yea, right.

      “Everything is OK… we’re just so concerned ourselves about
      our situation that we feel we need to ‘escape’ to some ‘safety
      zone’ that we’re not even going to tell you where it is… but
      other than that… yea… everything is fine… how are YOU?”

      I believe that is just part of the “continually saying they are
      comfortable” comment that ASM2 (seems) to say around 1616,
      and contributed to HIS mounting ‘frustration’ with ‘these guys’.

      That might have been the first one… and when he ‘checked’
      on them again he got the same sort of “Oh yeah… everything’s
      fine down here… how are you?” crap from Marsh.

      To make a long story short ( forget the AIR STUDY video )…

      I agree with your comments above.

      I believe there was an ASTOUNDING ‘disconnect’ between
      ground forces and Air Attack that day… ALL DAY LONG.

      I don’t know how usual or unusual that is… but on a day that
      19 people died… I would think that aspect of the operations
      would be under the microscope just as much as ANYTHING
      ELSE.

      When, do you suppose, we will ever hear more from the
      mysterious ASM1 ( Rory Collins )?

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Bravo 33 SAIT interview says that they didn’t even have
        a clue that the Blue Ridge Hotshots were even THERE
        that day…

        …until they heard it on CNN.

        Whether that was because of the piss-poor handoff by
        ASM1 Rory Collins or just a general lack on ground
        command’s part to make sure Air Attack was aware
        of even who was or wasn’t underneath them trying
        to fight the same fire they were is irrelevant.

        It means the whole ‘situational awareness’ on
        EVERYONE’S part that day was somewhere off
        the charts on the ‘bad’ side.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Followup… references for statements above…

          SAIT Interview Notes ( page 15 )…
          _________________________________________
          INTERVIEW WITH BRAVO 33
          July 9, 2013 – 1700
          Interviewees:
          John Burfiend-ATS Specialist
          Clint Clauson – ATS Trainee
          Thomas French – AT Specialist
          Interviewers:
          Mike Dudley, Brad Mayhew, Tim Foley, Jay Kurth, Jimmy Rocha
          __________________________________________
          We had been there about 1 ½ hours when air attack on the scene told us he had to leave. (1700 NM time). It was a strange change out. He just said “you have the fire, I’m leaving”. Not sure if I was talking to structure group 1 or 2. I remember looking up. Talking to ops structural group 1, 2 and ops.

          I knew there was 2 structural groups. I wrote down 2. Tom said “hey dude, you are the air attack”.

          Didn’t know Division A was the superintendent of the Granite Mountain hot shots.

          Air attack didn’t tell me there were resources
          in the area.

          I never got divisions from the briefing. Didn’t know there were divisions. Thought it was a Type 3 incident. I didn’t recognize Todd’s voice. I didn’t know anybody was taking any action on the fire.

          I didn’t know that Blue Ridge was there until we were home watching the news.
          __________________________________________

        • J. Stout says

          WTKTT:

          As for the “piss-poor hand off “by ASM1 Rory Collins which you spoke of …

          Perhaps the comments made by Rocksteady back on Dec 9 at 11:59 a.m. may ‘possibly’ offer some insights on this. Rocksteady talked about how:

          “If you have ever been in a small fixed wing aircraft, on a 100 degree day over a very active forest fire, doing continuous orbits, it is POSSIBLE that Colllins was air sick. It does happen frequently. When you get this sort of airsick, you are out of the game. PERIOD. You land, the pilot helps you to the lounge area and you lay there feeling like warmed over death.”

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Of course that is ‘possible’. Could happen
            to anyone…and there would also be no
            shame in admitting it. No one has.

            That’s NOT the documented reason
            “Air Attack” ATGS ASM1 B3 Rory Collins
            left the fire at 1558.

            The SAIT says it was simply that his PILOT
            was reaching ( or had already reached )
            his ‘flying time limit’.

            I actually don’t care if either ( or BOTH )
            of them were ready to puke their guts out.

            When you are airsick… it’s better if you
            stick your finger in your mouth and MAKE
            the ‘glory’ moment(s) happen ( multiple
            times, if necessary ) just to get that over
            with… especially when you still have to take
            care of business such as actually LANDING
            the plane.

            ( Trust me on this ).

            With ALL of the things Bravo 33 has said
            they did NOT know following the ‘handoff’…
            I would still say that’s evidence of a pretty
            bad ‘handoff’ over a VERY active ( and
            now dangerous ) fire.

            It did NOTHING but add an unnecessary
            amount of confusion to an ALREADY
            confusing situation that ultimately resulted
            in the loss of 19 lives.

            Would the tragedy that happened at
            4:45 PM have been avoided even if Mr.
            Collins performed the best, most complete
            ‘mid-fire’ Air Attack handoff in the history
            of WFF?…

            Maybe not… who can say…

            …but that ‘confusing’ handoff at such a
            critical time sure as heck didn’t help.

  61. WFF says

    OK I don’t have the time that 6 or 7 of you have, but you’re covering allot of ground. There was a lynch mob in the first month or so. Several people were convenced that GM was ordered to structure protection which led to their death. I’m glad that has faded and toned down. You’re not at the sup or asst sup position and believe you can’t refuse risk. I’m also glad that you’ve gotten to the point where people doing the best they can and making the best decisions they can with the info they had has become OK. That wasn’t the case in the beginning either.

    I’m trying to get a feel for the attitude right now, because seems this has become a conversation about details and who has the better judgement of them. Which I think is good, you’re testing out the speculation.

    One thing that I’m hearing (or I think I’m hearing) is that firefighters shouldn’t be protecting lives and property. And that they shouldn’t be involved in evacuation. Is that a general consensus or individual? Another is that maybe you’re (the group) beginning to think that GM leadership is responsible for what happened. That is interesting becuase usually when there is speculation that the deceased caused or are partially responsible for their tragedy that gets some pretty bad back lash. Just asking.

    • WFF says

      Just in case, I’m not a mysterious WFF or mysterious anything else. Not having conversations either. Just catching up.

    • Bob Powers says

      WFF–In the beginning—No I wont go that far back. There had been questions or speculation that GM was asked or ordered to help in town and that why they left the Black. Much of that has not been proven, how ever there has been some info surface that OPS did ask them to go to the town to help which is still sketchy.
      We have been digging details for some time since the investigation and written statements have been released.
      As an old WFF I don’t believe that saving lives and private property has ever our primary purpose. That may change some day but I do not believe hand crews could ever do that during a wild fire. Pre preparation of protection areas around property has to be done long before the fire to allow access for engine crews to save structures. Wild land crews are trained to fight wild land fire.
      I don’t know from my perspective how you can come to any other conclusion than the crew did not follow the 10 and 18 and by so doing put there selves in the situation they ended up in. In all the past fatality fires the portions of the 10 standard orders that were not followed caused the fatality. I only ask for proof otherwise the final responsibility for your crew always lies with you and the decisions you make. It is easy at this point to Identify the individual 10 standard orders they did not follow. Had they checked and followed them I do not believe they would have left the black for any reason. If it would have been my crew with what I have seen in just the pictures alone, we would have sit and watched the show till it was over, then walked out.

      For your info I spent 33 years in wild land fire from FF to Asst. Forest FMO. from crew boss to a type II IC. Supervised 3 Hot Shot Crews In Southern Calif. and Idaho. My father also died fighting Wild Land Fire.
      I have no problem with the fact that he made a bad decision that cost his life and 14 others. DID NOT POST A LOOKOUT that could see the main fire. His fire was one that helped create the 10 standard orders.

      • WFF says

        Yea Bob, I’m well aware of who you are. I don’t think there is anyone who isn’t sorry for what happened to your father. From what I’ve read a lookout could have called out the spot fires but no one would have anticipated that kind of down hill push from the wind. Eating in the drainage is an easy arm chair call, but they’d cleaned up what they were doing and did’nt see any hazards.

        I think that you guys are past the 10/18 thing that’s obvious. You guys are pieceing the decision process together. I think that is where the lessons are and where some people will find peace, but some won’t. No one can make anyone be unsafe. They may order but you just say “no”.

        I do think that wildland firefighters (and hand crews) are responsible for the public and can be very effective in defense and evacuation. They pay our salaries and have the right to the expectation that we perform. I think that we’ve been negligent in recognizing the development of WUI and it’s hazards over the years and preparing ourselves for the responsibility.

    • Gary Olson says

      I don’t believe that theory has faded or been toned down because it has lost believers, at least not with me. I believe it even stronger today than the first day I explained it to John Dougherty. It IS hard to track everything that is going on here, and the tide ebbs and flows, but I think that theory has been generally accepted as true by most people who participate in this effort.

      I remember commenting back on several of your comments at the very beginning of this controversy, and I can sum it up by saying I haven’t agreed with anything you have ever said, or the way you have said it.

      If it had been up to you in the beginning, John Dougherty never would have written about this tragedy and the only people commenting on it would have been Willis, Payne and that drawling idiot cowboy poet wantabe, talk but never did, retired USFS paid stooge and current schiill for Arizona Game and Fish what’s-his-name? It doesn’t even matter.

      Since you are so busy, you can make it short and to the point, but I am still waiting for YOU to explain the inexplicable since you are a knowledgeable WFF. I am also waiting for you to put your credentials on the table.

      • Gary Olson says

        And calling what’s-his-name it-doesn’t-even-matter a drawling idiot cowboy poet wantabe, talk but never did, retired USFS paid stooge and current schill for Arizona Game and Fish what’s-his-name is NOT name calling, it’s stating a fact. Go back and listen to what he said at the very first interview with the media out at the deployment site.

        He was a Public Information Officer for the USFS for god’s sake! Do you know what it takes to be a PIO for wildland fire organizations? No, I don’t either, but it has nothing to do with being a wildland firefighter, it has to do with being able to competently repeat (while looking reasonably professional) what others have written down for you to say in front of cameras.

        PIO’S are NOBODY’S. PIO’S are coffee sippin’, bullshitin’ salamander hugging camp slugs of the worst kind who use up perfectly good oxygen wildland firefighters could breathe, since they THINK they are somebody, who spend most of their time filling up the porta potty’s so firefighters have to take a crap while standing up when they finally make it back to fire camp.

        • Gary Olson says

          I can agree to disagree with Bob Powers, RTS and our old banned contrarian and loyal opposition friend xx-full-sail-xx on certain specifics of this conversation…but you…you are nobody.

        • Gary Olson says

          I wore a respirator while mopping up due to extensive problems I had with smoke inhalation in my later years as a hotshot. Although I could not wear it most of the time because I would have hyperventilated (like breathing into a paper bag while running or working out) BUT it really did come in most handy for using to breath in porta potties after all of the coffee sippin’, bullshittin’, salamander huggin’ camp slugs got done with them. Just one of my many fond memories of being a ground pounder and a grunt.

            • Gary Olson says

              Thanks Bob, I really brought back some memories of those porta potties you would rather forget…right?

              • WFF says

                OK maybe it hasn’t toned down for some. Sorry I brought it to the surface. Nice rant sorry you’re bitter. It won’t help or change anything.

                • Gary Olson says

                  Bitter? 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots are DEAD. In 2013. The next highest death toll was 12 hotshots on the Loop Fire. You know, basically back, if not in the stone ages of wildland firefighters, it sure was BC, old testament time. OK, I am bitter (not. What are you

  62. Elizabeth says

    Question for Bob Powers:
    According to Bravo 33, Eric Marsh (DivsA) specifically contacted Bravo 33 some time after 4 p.m. to tell Bravo 33 that “they were going down their escape route to the safety zone.” WHY would Eric Marsh have made that call to Bravo 33? What would be the likely PURPOSE of Eric making that call to Bravo 33?
    (I am asking sincerely.)

    • Bob Powers says

      He told Frisby where they were going as well. Where is this statement and what time? Was the statement with any other discussion? It is really not specific enough for B33 to know exactly what Marsh was talking about. I don’t see any assumption that B33 was or had eyes on GM or Marsh. Just a general discussion. If you want a Air Craft to know where you are you get them over you and you get specific. Do you see me do you see the crew we are going down the mountain here to the Ranch do you see the Ranch. If the fire changes in this direction let us know immediately. None of those things were discussed hence B33 had no idea of what GM was doing. You need a whole lot more info from B33 to tie the dots together it is just way to lose for me.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to Bob Powers post on March 10, 2014 at 11:41 am

        >> Mr. Powers asked..
        >> Where is this statement and what time?

        I believe this “Marsh called Bravo 33 and told him they
        were going down their escape route to their saftey
        zone” statement that Elizabeth ( and these mysterious
        WFF people she is talking with ) are basing their
        “Marsh set a lookout” belief on is the one on page 15
        of the SAIT’s Yarnell Investigation Notes (YIN) document.

        There is no specific TIME given for this statement but
        we do know it had to have happened after Rory
        Collins abruptly left the fire circa 4:00 PM because
        that’s when Bravo 33 actually first became ‘Air Attack’.

        NOTE: There were, apparently, THREE individuals
        onboard Bravo 33 that afternoon, and not just French
        and Burfiend. A Trainee named Clint Clauson was
        also (apparently) onboard that afternoon.

        _______________________________________________
        BRAVO 33 INTERVIEW July 9, 2013 – 1700
        Interviewees:
        John Burfiend-ATS Specialist
        Clint Clauson – ATS Trainee
        Thomas French – AT Specialist
        Interviewers: Mike Dudley, Brad Mayhew, Tim Foley,
        Jay Kurth, Jimmy Rocha
        _______________________________________________
        Got a call from Division A stating they were going down their escape route to the safety zone. Didn’t know Division A was the superintendent of the Granite Mountain hot shots. Asked him “is everything OK?” He replied “everything is ok, just heading to the safety zone”. We came around, made a practice run through the bowl, west to east. I was talking to Tom about the rising terrain on exit. Division A clad and said “that is what we are looking for, that is exactly right”. Within 5 minutes of that, they went in shelter.
        _______________________________________________

        >> Mr. Powers also asked…
        >> Was the statement with any other discussion?

        No. See above. According to Bravo 33, this ‘call from
        Marsh’ just ‘came out of nowhere’. Elizabeth said she
        also has evidence of ‘other calls from Marsh’ but unless
        she’s just talking about the known “That’s where we
        want retardant” call at 1637 there’s no telling what
        ‘additional calls’ she might be referring to.

        >> Mr. Powers also said…
        >> It is really not specific enough for B33 to know
        >> exactly what Marsh was talking about

        Not even close. If Marsh even remotely thought that was
        some sort of adequate “set Bravo 33 as lookout” moment
        then I would say that the only thing that proves is that
        Marsh was *already* suffering from heatstroke.

          • Bob Powers says

            At 1637 or just before he was already way to far committed where they were then. and B33 did not know what he was talking about from his statement.

  63. mike says

    I do not believe we will ever be able to understand exactly what risk Marsh saw and appreciated when it came to the fateful move. I do not believe that McDonough, even if he heard everything, could really offer insight on that.

    Elizabeth asked why it would be worse if Marsh took precautions such as having AA as “eyes” for him. Normally taking precautions is a good thing. In this case, the precautions would have been inadequate, either because AA did not get the message or because of all the reasons listed before as to why people in the air cannot do that job well (visibility, other tasks etc). Certainly the precautions taken did not work, if that is what Marsh’s intent was. The reason it might be worse is it might be a clue to his state of mind. If Marsh thought the move was safe and was wrong, then it is a horrible, if well-intentioned, mistake. The more he might be found to taking precautions MIGHT indicate he knew the move was very risky (no LCES etc), and was trying to lessen the risk. And that MIGHT indicate that he knowingly put 18 other lives at risk. And that would be worse. For the record, I do not believe that.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to mike post on March 9, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      >> mike said…
      >>
      >> I do not believe we will ever be able to understand exactly
      >> what risk Marsh saw and appreciated when it came to the
      >> fateful move. I do not believe that McDonough, even if he
      >> heard everything, could really offer insight on that.

      I would LOVE to hear Brendan’s insights on any of that…

      …but FIRST… I would like to just hear what he heard.

      All of it.

      >> mike also said…
      >>
      >> Certainly the precautions taken did not work,
      >> if that is what Marsh’s intent was.

      MOST certainly.

      • Bob Powers says

        Until I see some very specific discussions by Marsh and B33 in a report stated by B33 with time frames every thing I am seeing are assumed discussions. No place has there been any specific discussion between Marsh and B33 about him keeping even an eye on GM. Until I see that there is no proof of being a look out much less even having eyes on the Crew for that purpose. As stated earlier B33 had a view of the fire no one else had if he even slightly knew where the crew was in the canyon he would have been hollering at them to get out of there and diverted every air tanker he had to drop on them. B33 never had a clue on where they were or where they were going.

        • Bob Powers says

          Fire Fighting Orders—-
          #7 Maintain prompt communications with your forces, YOUR SUPERVISOR, and adjoining forces.

          #8 Give CLEAR instructions and INSURE they are understood.

          Two very critical elements missing by both Granit Mountain and Fire Overhead.

          #4 IDENTIFY escape routes and safety zones and MAKE THEM KNOWN.

          GM was in the safety ZONE the black. every body asked them if they were in the black Marsh said working our way thru the black to our safety zone. BR said they thought based on what Marsh said they working there way across the ATV route they had taken and down that route to the South in the black.
          With out following any of the rules and regulations they took off thru the brush and told no one specifically where they were or where they were headed.
          I am truly sorry but they took the quickest exit off the fire with out a plan thinking they had time. There was no hero plan only to get to there rigs and off the fire. They flipped a coin took a chance without a plan and it failed. The simple facts are sometimes hardest to accept. I am sure there are as we have found some other factors involved.
          But the out come will never change, They forgot to use the basics and many good fireman have paid the price for doing just that.

  64. Elizabeth says

    According to multiple sources – including Bravo 33 – DivsA (Eric Marsh) contacted Bravo 33 (e.g. Air Attack) directly at some time after 4 p.m. to tell Bravo 33 that GM was moving down their escape route to their safety zone. According to Bravo 33, there was further communication even after that from Eric Marsh.

    This refutes the notion that Marsh was trying to “hide” or avoid communicating where GM was. Marsh was communicating directly and voluntarily with Bravo 33.

    This is one of the many reasons why I do not agree with either WTKTT’s claimed transcript for the 161620 video or Maclean’s transcript and that of his female friend. And this is one of the many reasons why I am wondering if Marsh was thinking Bravo 33 would give him the heads-up as needed ala a lookout. Otherwise, *WHY* would Marsh take it upon himself to call Bravo 33 and tell them specifically where GM was going? What other purpose would he have for calling Bravo 33 (according to Bravo 33) and TELLING them where GM was HEADED?

    • calvin says

      Elizabeth, from what you are seeing. Did Marsh call B33 and tell B33 they were going DOWN their escape route and TO their safety zone before or after Rory Collins left. Also, Rory Collins reports in the YIN that he departed the fire at 1617 (presumably after the brief handoff with B33)

      • Elizabeth says

        According to my records, Rory Collins left at 3:59. His hand-off, by the way, was largely consistent with the type of hand-off that B-33 then gave when they left the fire under two hours later (and then handed-off to B-3 (e.g. Warbis and Lenmark)).

    • calvin says

      Elizabeth. According to Roy Hall YIN…”when Paul Musser called and said they are descending a predetermined escape route . I assumed it had been scouted.

      It seems this is additional confirmation that Marsh wasn’t taking independent action, and that in fact, he had communicated his/ their intentions to the appropriate overhead.

        • Elizabeth says

          I just looked, and I’ve found nothing else from Hall, FYI, that adds to what you caught and shared. Thanks, again, Calvin.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to calvin post on March 9, 2014 at 7:26 pm

        >> calvin said…
        >>
        >> According to Roy Hall YIN…”when Paul Musser called
        >> and said they are descending a predetermined escape
        >> route . I assumed it had been scouted.
        >>
        >> It seems this is additional confirmation that Marsh
        >> wasn’t taking independent action, and that in fact, he
        >> had communicated his / their intentions to the
        >> appropriate overhead.

        Good catch, calvin. This matches the entry in Musser’s
        own SAIT interview where he says he heard that ( after
        4:00 PM ). Both of these YIN note entries have always
        made mincemeat of the SAIR’s claim that management
        had no idea they were ‘moving’…

        …but I think you just made the same mistake that
        Elizabeth made up above.

        Just because Marsh said something to someone that
        day does NOT mean he ‘successfully communicated’.

        In their YIN interviews… both OPS1 Abel and OPS2
        Musser admitted that regardless of Marsh saying
        something like that… they still had NO FRICKIN’ IDEA
        what he really meant.

        So now we have proof positive that the top level Incident
        Commander ( Roy Hall ) and BOTH Field OPS 1 Todd
        Abel AND Planning OPS 2 Paul Musser were ALL fully
        ‘informed’ that Granite Mountain was ‘moving’ via a
        ‘predetermined escape route’ that afternoon…

        But NONE of these highly paid, top level fire commanders
        had ANY FRICKIN’ IDEA what that meant and they didn’t
        even feel it was their responsibility to educate themselves
        and FIND OUT what that meant.

        Same for whatever Marsh may have said to Bravo 33.

        Bravo 33 had NO FRICKIN’ IDEA what some guy on the
        ground meant about a ‘predetermined escape route’ or
        what his idea of a ‘safety zone’ was ( or WHERE it was )
        unless it had been CLEARLY explained. ( It wasn’t ).

        The ‘C’ in LCES – Communicate clearly and effectively.
        It didn’t happen… and when it doesn’t… people can DIE.

        Yarnell Hill Fire Accident Investigation Notes
        Interviews with Paul Musser OSC
        and Todd Abel OSC – 7/6/13

        OSC Musser or Abel did NOT know of the predetermined
        route mentioned by Marsh to the ranch structures.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          SIDENOTE…

          The very fact that both OPS1 Abel and OPS2
          Musser admitted AFTER the incident ( in their
          SAIT interviews ) that they had NO IDEA what
          Marsh meant by a ‘predetermined escape route’
          to any sort of ‘ranch’ means that when the
          SAIR says they were ALL ( Marsh, Abel and
          Musser ) ‘shown’ all of that via ‘Google Maps on
          an iPad’ at the 7:00 AM briefing… that isn’t just
          more creative writing on the SAIT’s part…

          …it is an absolute, bald-faced LIE.

          Page 21 of the SAIR…

          At the 0700 briefing on June 30, ICT4 and others
          from the previous shift meet at the Yarnell Fire
          Station with incoming personnel including…
          ICT2, two Operations Section Chiefs…
          OPS1 ( Todd Abel ) and OPS2 (Paul Musser),
          SPGS1 ( Gary Cordes ), a fire behavior analyst (FBAN), YCSO deputies, and the Granite Mountain
          IHC Superintendent ( Eric Marsh ).

          They review the area using Google Maps on an
          iPad, and they note Boulder Springs Ranch as
          an excellent safety zone.

          SAIR – Page 41…

          The Granite Mountain IHC heard the Boulder
          Springs Ranch was a “bomb proof safety zone”
          that morning ( at the 7:00 AM briefing also
          attended by OPS1 Abel and OPS2 Musser ).

          Using Google Maps and an iPad, they had seen the
          Ranch, as well as potential trails and roads leading
          to it ( along with everyone else at that morning
          briefing including OPS1 Abel and OPS2 Musser ).

        • calvin says

          P23 YIN Gary Cordis…
          Q Were you surprised where they were?
          A NO

          I am not sure this question was referring to GM. Maybe?

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            If all of that “They looked at the ranch and
            the roads leading to it on an iPad” crap in
            the SAIR isn’t just a total lie…

            …I’d still like to know WHOSE iPad it was,
            who was running Google Maps, and exactly
            what was SAID about ‘the roads leading
            to the ranch’.

            Did someone REALLY just draw their
            finger across a box canyon and everyone
            nodded their heads and agreed that
            would then be referred to the rest of
            the day as the ‘predetermined escape
            route’?

            I really, really doubt it ( even if there even
            was an iPad at that meeting ).

    • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

      Elizabeth,

      There are a couple of HUGE things you are missing here. There was NO escape route. An escape route is marked, scouted, and cleared if necessary, path to safety. NONE of these things were done, thus NO escape route.

      By saying they WERE in an escape route, it provided the illusion to others that they were safe, and had all their bases covered. NOT SO!

      GM repeatedly told BR and others that they were in their escape route and heading to their safety zone, providing MANY others with a false sense of GM’s security and safety.

      Marsh or GM NEVER told anyone their routing, OR their destination, which in hindsite, almost appears to be by design. If fact, when BR specifically asked, the reply was vague and non-responsive.

      You say Marsh repeated spoke with B33, but in reality, he never really told them anything of value. After all of those supposed conversations, they still, NEVER KNEW where GM was, what their routing was, or what their destination was. This information (ALONG WITH WHAT THE FIRE WAS DOING), was the ONLY information of value, and it NEVER got exchanged.

      You also say Marsh “specifically” told B33 where GM was going, but he told them nothing of the kind!! B33 NEVER had any idea of where the escape route was, or went, and no idea WHERE the safety zone was, even AFTER all those conversations where Marsh supposedly told them ‘specifically where they were going’.

      • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

        ALSO: At the only point in time that we know B33 actually saw GM, when “they were over there on the corner of the fire”, the conversation expresses B33′s extreme concern for their location and safety, and then B33 being subsequently put off, by what had at that point, had become a somewhat standard ‘we are heading down our escape route to our safety zone’ response.

        • Elizabeth says

          WTKTT = TTWARE? Same person?
          If not, you would know that there has been NO confirmation of any sort of “corner” discussion.

          Thousands of folks are viewing this website. If thousands of folks were either disagreeing with me or agreeing with you, we would know it.

          • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

            Elizabeth, I’ll give you that point. Perhaps there are thousands of people on this website that are better able than me to keep track of all these thousands of comments, and continuously remember what someone might have heard, what someone actually heard, versus what someone is totally speculating about. I do my best to keep up.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Reply to Elizabeth post
            on March 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm

            >> Elizabeth said…
            >>
            >> there has been NO confirmation of
            >> any sort of “corner” discussion.

            Absolutely correct… but there HAS been
            definite confirmation that something
            exactly LIKE what appears to be the
            “I see them (GM) on the corner of the fire”
            background conversation of that 4:16 PM
            Air Study video DID take place right around
            that same time ( 4:16 PM ).

            Yarnell Hill Fire Accident Investigation Notes
            Interviews with Paul Musser OSC
            and Todd Abel OSC – 7/6/13

            - Bravo 33 is (now) working air tankers and
            SEATS including a VLAT.

            NOTE: This puts the sequential timing of
            this SAIT interview at some point AFTER
            4:00 PM ( Perhaps 4:16 PM? Same time
            as Air Study video? ) The very next SAIT
            interview entry AFTER this one says…

            - Abel requests Bravo 33 (ASM2) to check
            on Granite Mountain crew. Bravo 33 (ASM2)
            CONFIRMS that Granite Mountain crew is in
            the black.

            No mention of the word ‘corner’… but that
            is, in fact, the same event in what is
            probably the same timeframe ( 4:16 PM )
            as the conversation that can be heard
            in the background of the 4:16 PM Air
            Study video.

            • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

              “Bravo 33 (ASM2) CONFIRMS that Granite Mountain crew is in the black”, makes one think that means B33 saw them there. I’d be curious as to if that was actually the case, or they just contacted GM via radio and GM ‘confirmed’ it via radio, without actual visual contact.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                My feeling there was if that is
                all that OPS1 Todd Abel
                wanted… he could have done
                that himself.

                To even ask a ( very busy )
                ASM2 to ‘check on them’
                seems to automatically
                imply Abel wanted ‘a visual’.

                IAOI ( If And Only If ) I am
                right about the background
                conversation at the very
                start of that Air Study video…

                …then that is EXACTLY
                what happened at 4:16 PM.

                The only problem there is
                that if those ‘moment match’,
                then ASM2 was actually
                (technically) wrong about
                his confirmation. At 4:16,
                Steed and Crew would have
                been almost at the point
                where they were going to
                drop into the canyon.

                Maybe at 140 miles per hour
                with a lot of smoke… they
                still just looked close
                enough to all that black
                for ASM2 to ‘confirm’ they
                were, in fact, in ( or near )
                ‘the black’.

                ASM2 (apparently) used
                the phrase “They’re on
                the corner of the fire”.

                IAOI ( If And Only If ) that is
                what he really said… I
                would say ‘corner’ means
                ‘anchor point’. From way
                up in the air… even their
                hike south away from that
                point would still look pretty
                close to all that black.

      • Elizabeth says

        The escape route and safety zone parlance is not mine, TTWRE. I am just repeating what the first-hand documentation suggests. I am not attempting to maintain that anything was or was not a valid safety zone or escape route.

        • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

          Elizabeth,

          My comment was not alluding to the fact that you were maintaining that anything was, or was not, “a valid safety zone or escape route”. More specifically, it was directed at a certain premise that you appeared to be supporting.

          Elizabeth stated:

          **This refutes the notion that Marsh was trying to “hide” or avoid communicating where GM was. Marsh was communicating directly and voluntarily with Bravo 33.**

          I countered that with these statements:

          **By saying they WERE in an escape route, it provided the illusion to others that they were safe, and had all their bases covered. NOT SO!

          GM repeatedly told BR and others that they were in their escape route and heading to their safety zone, providing MANY others with a false sense of GM’s security and safety

          Marsh or GM NEVER told anyone their routing, OR their destination, which in hindsite, almost appears to be by design. If fact, when BR specifically asked, the reply was vague and non-responsive.**

          Elizabeth also said this:

          **Otherwise, *WHY* would Marsh take it upon himself to call Bravo 33 and tell them specifically where GM was going?**

          To which I stated:

          **You also say Marsh “specifically” told B33 where GM was going, but he told them nothing of the kind!! B33 NEVER had any idea of where the escape route was, or went, and no idea WHERE the safety zone was, even AFTER all those conversations where Marsh supposedly told them ‘specifically where they were going’.**

          I’m not sure how these comments or any of the additional commentary added-up to my suggesting you were attempting to validate the legitimacy of an escape route or safety zone.

  65. calvin says

    p37 YIN. Rance Marquez…..1630 Dan could hear Eric asking Granite Mountain if they could see the helo.
    1.Who is Dan?
    2. Eric Marsh was asking GM if they could see the helo??

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to calvin post on March 9, 2014 at 4:44 am

      >> calvin said…
      >> p37 YIN. Rance Marquez…..1630 Dan could hear Eric asking
      >> Granite Mountain if they could see the helo.
      >> 1.Who is Dan?

      My guess would be Daniel Knight, DPS officer… and the ‘Eric’
      being referred to would be fellow DPS officer Eric Tarr who
      was the DPS medic flying in DPS chopper Ranger 58 at that time.

      Daniel Knight would have definitely had the DPS Ranger 58
      frequency and would have been listening to the Ranger 58
      traffic at that time… which had to ACTUALLY be AFTER
      the deployment and Ranger 58 was already ‘searching for
      them’ and calling down to them in case they could hear
      the helicopter.

      >> calvin also wrote.
      >> 2. Eric Marsh was asking GM if they could see the helo??

      Don’t think so. ‘Eric’ must be DPS medic Eric Tarr ( in Ranger 58 )

      I think the 1630 time entry there is just plain wrong ( as well
      as the time on some of those other entries in that section ).

      You have to look at that whole section in context.

      Not only is that 1630 entry totally ‘out of sequence’, there is
      another 1630-1645 entry even after that which ALSO appears
      to be wrong ( timewise ).

      Here is that entire section from the Marquez interview.

      NOTE that even in the ‘out of place’ 1630 entry he starts
      that entry by saying “the fire front had passed and we were
      mopping up” so it really couldn’t have been 1630. Had to be
      later, AFTER deployment.

      From page 37 of the Yarnell Investigation Notes ( YIN )…
      Interview with Rance Marquez

      1600 – The fire turned into a head fire and was coming direct at us. A little bit after that it got a hard -push. People were spraying water on their houses. After about 15-20 minutes, it got real dark under the column.

      1630 – By the time fire front had passed and we were mopping up. I could see the VLAT orbiting s from my position. I didn’t hear anyone say they were going to deploy. Dan could hear Eric asking Granite Mountain if they could see the helo.

      1615 – Came on ATV’s Casey, Jayson Clausen and Bea were at the ICP and were worried that the pickups would burn.

      1630-1645 – I then asked GM if they could hear the helo. There was no response. I did hear the mike keyed and a loud sound. I heard air attack say “whoever is screaming in the mike, you need to stop”. The column was still laying over. I walked out to the pickup to get some air.

      1700-1730 – After that, things got pretty bad. Cougin created a medical group. I became part of it. We were order to Yarnell and rally at the restaurant. Cougin was working with Todd. I didn’t hear a lot of chatter. Triage groups were ordered. A recovery group was organized. I didn’t know where they were.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Typos above. I had ‘Knight’ stuck in my head.
        DPS Officer’s name is actually ‘Daniel Kight’.

      • calvin says

        It seems from Dan Philbin’s “unit log” that he was with Rance Marquez at the time around deployment.

        It is possible Rance Marquez is referring to Dan Philbin. Later that evening Dan Philbin also assisted in untangling the dozer from powerline.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          That sounds like a better candidate for the ‘Dan’
          mentioned by Marquez… but I still think the 1630
          timestamp on that Marquez not is just wrong and
          the ‘Eric’ that is mentioned is DPS medic
          ‘Eric Tarr’ and they were hearing Ranger 58 trying
          to ‘call down’ to Granite Mountain as they were
          searching for them.

          Not sure this is relevant to this particular question…
          but don’t forget that TWO Helicopters ARE, in fact,
          clearly ( and loudly ) heard passing over the
          Shrine area DURING the Helmet-Cam video
          and while we are hearing the final transmissions
          of Granite Mountain.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Typo above ( not having a good keyboard day)

            Meant to say…

            “I still think the 1630 timestamp on that
            Marquez NOTE is just wrong”

          • calvin says

            Well, according to Marquez, After Dan hears Eric asking GM if they can see helo. At 1630-1645 Marquez (himself) asks if GM can hear the helo. He (Marquez) says there was no response, only a keyed mic and a loud sound. According to Marquez, this happened before AA tells tells GM to stop yelling .

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Yea… those Marquez notes are
              quite cryptic ( and messy ). Not
              sure what to make of any of that.

              He was up at the ICP, so what would
              he know about helicopters in the
              air 4 miles south?… unless he was
              just repeating what B33 was also
              asking GM at that time ( basically
              DURING the deployment/burnover )
              only HE was calling them on some
              OTHER frequency ( because we
              don’t even HEAR him doing what
              he says he did in the Helmet-Cam
              video which was capturing both Air
              and TAC frequencies at the same
              time ).

              What other frequency, then?

              How would Marquez have had GM’s
              private frequency to talk to them on
              at THAT time when his whole problem
              all day was that he couldn’t talk
              directly to Marsh or Steed at all and
              had to borrow other radios to do it?

              He’s also wrong in remembering
              the ‘keyed mike’ and ‘static’ noises,
              which came AFTER B33 told
              Caldwell to stop yelling on the radio
              ( not BEFORE ).

              No reason to believe that Marquez
              didn’t do some of the things he says
              he did around that time… but his
              own timestamps in his own
              SAIT interview notes seem to be
              just really wonky.

              Just one more classic case of the
              SAIT investigators needing to
              re-interview someone to clear
              things up… but FAILED to do so.

              • calvin says

                What other frequency?

                BR YIN p4…Tie in with the crew at the ranch house and hit main rd @ 1640 they make a turn, and hear yelling on Tac 1, a little further they hear yelling on Tac 5 AA and GM7 yelling multiple times. AA says unit yelling at AA on A/G stop yelling and stand by.

                So it seems GM was transmitting on tac1 and tac5 according to these notes.
                It seems like tac 5 is A/G. right?

  66. calvin says

    p34 & 35 YIN…. Daniel Kight DPS officer (last few sentences) “Eric being into the helms ranch….. Cortez pat was talking to individual. Crew was wking towards us Eric heard on crew net and left.

    Thoughts??

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to calvin post on March 9, 2014 at 4:34 am

      >> calvin said…
      >> p34 & 35 YIN…. Daniel Kight DPS officer (last few sentences)
      >> “Eric being into the helms ranch….. Cortez pat was talking to
      >> individual. Crew was wking towards us Eric heard on crew
      >> net and left.
      >>
      >> Thoughts??

      You left out the 4 words preceding that quote from Knight’s
      interview where he was ‘timestamping’ things (supposedly)
      sequentially.

      That sentence actually starts with…

      “1900 notified of fatalities”.

      1900 is 7:00 PM and the words that then follow would match
      what was happening around the deployment site. DPS medic
      Eric Tarr did, in fact, hike over to the Helms ranch himself
      at that point and met up with ( I believe ) both Cordes and
      Abel there. He ( Eric Tarr ) also talked on the radio some
      from there ( the reference to crew net? ) and then LEFT the
      ranch to go back to deployment site.

      That would be my guess about those (confusing)
      Daniel Knight YIN notes, anyway.

      Full ‘cut’ from that page 35 of YIN…

      1900 notified of fatalities. “Eric being into the helm ranch…Cortez pat was talking to individual. Crew was wking towards us Eric heard on crew net and left.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Typos above. I had ‘Knight’ stuck in my head.
        DPS Officer’s name is actually ‘Daniel Kight’.

  67. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    **
    ** MORE EVIDENCE OF AN ADDITIONAL GM CHASE TRUCK

    In Blue Ridge Superintendent Brian Frisby’s (redacted) unit log notes there is
    even MORE evidence that there were, in fact, FOUR Granite Mountain vehicles
    that had to be ‘moved’ that day.

    Brian Frisby SPECIFICALLY says ( in his notes ) that there was, in fact,
    BOTH a “GM Superintendent Truck” AND a “GM Chase Truck”.

    So here is what that means…

    1 GM Superintendent truck ( driven out by Brendan McDonough )
    1 GM Chase truck ( driven out by BR Captain Trueheart Brown )
    2 GM Crew Carrires ( driven out by unknown BR crew members )

    Brian Frisby’s complete notes regarding Brendan’s evacuation and the ‘dust off’
    of the vehicles is below but here is the critical section where Brian describes the
    moment ( right about 1545 ) when he was evacuating Brendan in the UTV Ranger
    and the two of them ‘arrived’ at the GM Superintendent truck…

    Brian Frisby: “As we got to the Supt truck AND Chase truck ( Brendan )
    got out and started BOTH vehicles while we waited for the other drivers.”

    He goes on to say that he then observed the fire behavior at that location and
    realized there was no time to lose… so Frisby left Brendan there with BOTH the
    GM Supt truck AND the GM Chase truck and Brian took off east in the ranger
    to ‘go and get’ the drivers instead of just waiting for them to show up. Frisby
    now knew there wasn’t time for that.

    So here is Frisby describing what he did next…

    Brian Frisby: “I noticed that the fire was approaching quickly so I drove the ranger
    out to meet the drivers and quickly grabbed (Brown) and headed for the trucks.
    (Brown) got in the truck and him and (Brendan) headed out along with the
    other trucks.”

    That now matches EXACTLY BR Captain Trueheart Brown’s
    redacted unit log notes where he describes the same moment…

    Trueheart Brown: “I jump in THEIR chase and the ( GM lookout follows ? )
    me and we pick up our guys in their buggies who fall into the convoy.
    I have the front and (xxxx)s bring up the rear.”

    So it looks like there is still a very real possibility that Captain Brown might have
    heard the entire Marsh/Steed ‘disussing their options’ conversations that the
    SAIR has always said Brendan heard… because Captain Brown might have
    *also* been travelling in a vehicle with a radio tuned to GM’s private frequency
    during the timeframe in question.

    It also leaves open the possibility that IAOI ( If And Only If ) there is actually
    a ‘third voice’ heard in the second MacKenzie video clip… that it *might*
    have been Captain Trueheart Brown since it now appears he had full
    access to a GM Crew Radio in the GM Chase truck.

    The huge QUESTION about all this ( that Mr. Powers has pointed out )
    still remains the fact that if Captain Brown himself also heard this
    Marsh/Steed ‘discussing their options’ conversation over the GM
    private intra-crew frequency, then…

    1) Why is there no mention of him hearing it in any of his own interview notes or
    unit log notes? Could it be that he DOES mention it… but that is one the
    HEAVILY redacted sections?

    2) If Captain Brown really did hear that private ‘discussing their options’
    conversation… then why all the confusion on his part later when he became
    part of the actual ground rescue mission and ( like the others ) didn’t seem
    to have a clue where to actually even start looking for Granite Mountain.

    More to come on this… but for now… here is the complete section from Brian
    Frisby’s handwritten unit log notes that covers the 1530 timeframe on through
    him delivering Brendan back to the GM vehicles and then expediting Brown out
    to Brendan’s location so they could both drive vehicles out of there…

    * Page 3 of Brian Frisby’s redacted unit log notes…

    15:30 (xxxx) had four of our guys bring our trucks around
    and the rest geared up and headed to the dozer
    line preping towards Shrine. I tried to call (xxxx) a few
    times on tac1 (DIVA) without any luck so I call (xxxxxx)
    (xxxxxx) and was able to talk to ( Jesse Steed ) I told him
    that we were going to start preping the dozer line to
    be able to burn if our hand was forced We would

    * Page 4 of Brian Frisby’s redacted unit log notes…

    at least be able to protect some of the structures
    he agreed that our time was best spent down towards
    the structures and that it was slow going and they
    would probably be another hour before they tied into
    the two track to the north. ( Eric Marsh ) called me
    right after that to let me know he had copied direct
    and agreed with the plan he also said he would like
    to meet up when I get the chance. I told him
    I would head his way with the ranger. ( Brown ) grabbed
    his gear to go and look at a rocky area to see
    if could (hang?) up fire if we had to burn. I
    headed up toward Granite Mountain. As I headed west
    towards them I noticed fire activitie picking up
    close to were (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) and as I
    got closer I looked back to the east and
    notice the whole flank had gone from a backing fire to
    a running fire with 50 foot flame lengths. I was just
    about to call (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    to the two track I pulled up (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) I that we needed to
    move there vehicles due to the fire behavior. I didn’t have
    any luck on tac 1 so ( Brendan ) let me use his radio
    to talk on there Crew net. I talked to ( Steed? )
    and he agreed that with the increased fire behavior they should
    move there trucks and they all called out were the keys
    were for each truck. I also asked (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
    (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) I then
    called ( Brown ) to let him know that I needed (some?)
    drivers to help move the Granite Mountains vehicles

    * Page 5 of Brian Frisby’s redacted unit log notes…

    due to the increased fire behavior. He said they were
    heading around to help. As we got to the Supt truck and
    Chase truck ( Brendan ) got out and started both vehicles
    while we waited for the other drivers. I noticed that the fire was
    approaching quickly so I drove the ranger out to meet
    the drivers and quickly grabbed (Brown) and
    headed for the trucks. (Brown) got in the truck and him
    and (Brendan) headed out along with the other trucks.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup… this one sentence from Brian Frisby’s notes…

      “I then called ( Brown ) to let him know that I needed (some?)
      drivers to help move the Granite Mountains vehicles.”

      …also matches EXACTLY Captain Brown’s log notes where
      he says that radio request from Frisby is the exact moment
      he did his ‘about face’ during his hike on the Cutover trail.

      That moment WAS recorded by Brown’s GPS unit and is exactly…

      1541.30 ( 3:41 PM + 30 seconds ).

      So that is, without a doubt, the moment when Frisby had
      just picked up Brendan, and Frisby was making these
      various radio calls before dashing back east to drop
      Brendan off at the GM Supt Truck and GM Chase Truck.

      This puts an EARLIER timeframe on when Brendan ACTUALLY
      left his lookout post than any official report has done so far.

      He would have needed at least 4 minutes to hike down from
      where he was to the spot where Frisby would find him and
      with all the other things that were known have happened in
      that timeframe before he actually began his hike ( conversations
      with Steed about it, etc. ) it means Brendan might have left his
      lookout position as early as 1533 ( 3:33 PM ) that afternoon.

    • calvin says

      Which truck was Cory Ball riding in (when he took photo(s))? GM Supt truck or GM chase truck? Neither?

      Thoughts??

  68. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin on March 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm said:
    >>
    >> Great questions. Which came first?
    >> 1. Musser’s request or
    >> 2. Abel’s Air support ASAP
    >>
    >> Elizabeth on March 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm said:
    >>
    >> DING, DING, DING. Good job, Calvin.
    >>
    >> Mike says we don’t have any evidence of what made the guys
    >> change their minds, but, actually, we do.

    Do we?

    >> Elizabeth also wrote…
    >> The reason why they didn’t go initially is not because they were
    >> “hunkered” – that is a figment. The reason why they did not go is
    >> because they were still building line.

    Nope. The ‘tools up’ moment for these men came long before the Caldwell video,
    the “Hunker and be safe” order from Abel AND the Musser ‘can you spare
    resources?’ request.

    See below.

    >> Elizabeth also wrote…
    >> Calvin is asking the right questions to get us there.
    >> To wit, remember the timeline:
    >>
    >> At roughly 3:42 p.m., when Musser first called to ask DivsA to
    >> “bump resources” over to Cordes (e.g. in Yarnell or Glen Ilah),

    Nope. ADOSH says this initial “can you spare resources?” request from Musser
    came about 9-10 minutes later than that… long AFTER the ‘tools up’ moment
    for these men and also AFTER the Marsh/Abel conversation captured circa 3:50
    in the Caldwell video.

    >> Elizabeth also said…
    >> GM was still *actively* working on constructing line out where they were

    Not at 3:50. The ‘tools up’ moment for them came BEFORE the Caldwell video
    itself… and BEFORE the Musser request.

    >> Elizabeth also wrote…
    >> At 3:50-ish, Steed tells Blue Ridge that they have roughly another hour or
    >> so to go before they will be able to tie into the line.

    Nope. You are about 20 minutes off there.

    That moment when Steed told Frisby that it was ‘slow going’ and that he ( Steed )
    would probably need another hour to finish took place right around 1530 ( 3:30
    PM )… BEFORE Marsh even requested that Frisby come up to the anchor point
    for the second face-to-face.

    This moment is fully timestamped and documented in Frisby’s own unit log.

    From Page 3 of Brian Frisby’s handwritten unit log notes…

    Page 3

    15:30 (xxxx) had four of our guys bring our truck around around and the rest
    geared up (strikeout) and headed to the dozer line preping towards Shrine.
    I tried to call ( Eric Marsh ) a few times on tac1 (DIVA) without any luck so I
    call (xxxxxx) (xxxxxx) and was able to talk to ( Jesse Steed ) I told him that we
    were going to start preping the dozer line to be able to burn if our hand was
    forced. We would at least be able to protect some of the structures he agreed
    that our time was best spent down towards the structures and that it was slow
    going and they would probably be another hour before they tied into the two track
    to the north. ( Eric Marsh ) called me right after that to let me know he had copied
    direct and agreed with the plan he also said he would like to meet up when I get
    the chance. I told him I would head his way with the ranger.

    >> Elizabeth also wrote…
    >> In roughly that time frame, Marsh speaks with Abel.

    If you mean 1550 ( 3:50 PM )… then yes… the Marsh/Abel “Workin’ my way
    off the top” followed by Abel’s “Keep ME informed, Hunker and be safe, We’ll
    get Air Support down there ASAP” conversation DID take place right around
    1550 ( 3:50 PM… in the Caldwell video )… but see above. That conversation
    was about 20 minutes AFTER Steed told Frisby they needed another hour to
    complete the ‘tie-in’ and it came some minutes AFTER the ‘tools up’ moment
    up there for Steed and the crew.

    >> Elizabeth also wrote..
    >> But, shortly thereafter and as confirmed in the 4:02 Mackenzie
    >> video, we see and hear that the plan of tying into the line unexpectedly
    >> has become a non-starter, because the WIND shifted, and it became
    >> clear that they were likely to lose the line.

    Frisby knew that the line burnout was NOT going to be an option as soon as he
    came across Brendan evacuating his lookout position, saw the extreme fire
    behavior, cancelled the face-to-face with Marsh, and immediately changed his
    entire focus to moving ALL of the vehicles that were now in harms way and
    getting his own ( and other ) crews evacuated from the Sesame and
    Shrine areas.

    That moment has now been GPS timestamped and took place at 1541.30.
    ( The moment when BR Captain Brown did his about-face on his Cutover trail
    hike because Frisby just called him and told him he was now evacuating
    Brendan and to get drivers to move all the vehicles ASAP ).

    That’s a full 8 minutes and 30 seconds before the Caldwell video and the
    captured conversation between Marsh and Abel and at least 9 minutes before
    OPS2 Musser made his infamous ‘can you spare resources’ request to
    Marsh/Steed.

    >> Elizabeth also wrote…
    >> (And THAT, by the way, is why we saw in one of the photos just before
    >> 4 p.m. that Ashcraft was moving with his saw on his shoulder – he was
    >> giving up the effort to build line (on the instruction of Marsh) because the
    >> plan of building the line to tie into line from the morning was no longer an
    >> option. He wasn’t going to the ranch – he was going to join the rest of the
    >> guys sitting where we see them in the 4:02 p.m. MacKenzie video.)

    MOST of that is true… except the part where you claim that the circa 3:50 PM
    MacKenzie photos are somehow showing the exact ‘tools up’ moment for
    Steed and the crew. That had already happened prior to them even ‘relaxing’
    at that location. The chainsaw sheaths were already in place before they
    even gathered at that location and started taking photos so the actual ‘tools
    up’ moment had taken place sometime before any of those photos were taken.

  69. Gary Olson says

    Actually I should have said, see: the Loop Fire, the Battlement Creek, the South Canyon Fire as far as hotshot deaths go, AND see the YANELL HILL FIRE.

  70. Gary Olson says

    FYI,

    1. As I already stated, I don’t believe there is any way GM was relying on air-attack as their lookout… and it is absurd when people try to assert that GM was hoping for a retardant drop to provide them “cover” while they made their escape to the ranch. That may happen in a war movie with a Spectre Gunship overhead, but that’s about it.

    2. I hate to think of anyone wasting their time trying to make a “better shelter.” People’s efforts would be better served to getting rid of shelters all together and keeping wildland out of harm’s way during the burn period. In the meantime, I think wildland firefighters should stop working in front of and above uncontrolled wildfires. See; the Loop Fire, the Battlement Creek Fire and the South Canyon Fire.

    • Gary Olson says

      Actually, I guess I should have said that is the kind of thing that might very well be happening tonight (or today) in Afghanistan somewhere, but as Mike has pointed out, wildland commanders NEVER have to faced with ordering their subordinated to certain death. Everyone is SUPPOSED to come home after a wildfire.

    • Bob Powers says

      Gary you are absolutely right. Current drought is forcing Wild Land Fire to reevaluate how we fight Fire, and change tactics.

  71. calvin says

    Is there any evidence of Musser contacting BR for “spare resources” after GM (Marsh or Steed)reportedly “turned down” the request and advised Musser to ask BR?
    I do not think I have seen this in any interview notes, unit logs or other.

    • Elizabeth says

      Yes, Calvin. Just so you appreciate the context, let me say this:
      Remember that the wind had been moving the fire NORTH for the entire day up until it abruptly shifted EAST. When the wind began to look like it was going to shift hard to the east, Todd Abel was still tied up on the NORTH end of the fire, dealing with the Model Creek sort of stuff (or wherever the north end was). MUSSER, therefore, was the guy available to be on the EAST side of the fire, and he got with Gary Cordes, who indicated that they needed to do their damndest to keep the fire out of Yarnell. Cordes indicated that he needed “resources” to be bumped to him in order to achieve this goal.
      Musser then got in contact with Marsh, since Marsh, as DivsA, had allegedly been assigned control/leadership over two resources (Blue Ridge and Granite Mountain), to ask if Marsh could afford to “bump” some of “his” resources to Cordes (who was running structure protection in Yarnell and Glen Ilah). GM was still trying to tie into the dozer/retardant line from the morning, which is why they were not available to be “bumped” and which is why DivsA suggested that Musser contact Blue Ridge.
      But CORDES apparently piped up and indicated that he already HAD Blue Ridge working for tasks under his direction (and thereby presumably making clear that he needed *other* resources).
      I am paraphrasing, by the way, so forgive me for that.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Elizabeth… there’s something wonky with the TIMING
        on the whole ‘contextual situation’ you just tried to describe.

        According to ADOSH, Musser made his infamous intial
        ‘request for resources’ out to Marsh/Steed AFTER the
        1545-1550 conversation between OPS1 Abel and
        DIVSA Marsh. ( ADOSH page 18 says it happened ‘shortly
        thereafter’ that conversation ).

        So let’s say that call from Musser came not just
        ‘shortly thereafter’ that conversation but, indeed,
        IMMEDIATELY after that Marsh/Abel conversation.

        That would put it right around 1552, right after the
        Caldwell video ended.

        By the time the Caldwell video even ended, Brian
        Frisby had ALREADY dropped Brendan off all the
        way back at the east end of Sesame Trail, at the
        GM Supervisor truck, and had ( according to the
        SAIR ) ALREADY been contacted by Cordes about
        whether ‘burning out that line’ was still an option.
        Frisby said NO… and Marsh AGREED ( over the radio ).

        So by the time Musser would have made that call out
        to Marsh/Steed to ‘ask for resources’… Cordes ( and
        Musser ) would have KNOWN that the line burnout
        just wasn’t going to happen… and that both Blue Ridge
        AND Granite Mountain were now ‘free resources’.

        Indeed… by the time Frisby got back to the Sesame area
        after dropping Brendan off… Frisby knew that it was all
        going sideways and his entire focus was now getting
        everyone ‘evacuated’ from the Sesame and Shrine
        area(s). This is fully supported by all reports and all
        versions of the Blue Ridge SAIT inteviews and their
        own redacted notes.

        According to the SAIR… at the same time Cordes was
        told by Frisby that the ‘line burnout’ was no longer an
        option is when Marsh also ‘announced’ that they were
        going to ‘make their way out their escape route’. That
        represents DIVSA Marsh already deciding that the work
        they were doing was useless and it was ‘tools up’ out
        there on that ridge.

        Page 24 of the SAIR…

        As BR Supt is en route to pick up drivers to move the Granite Mountain crew carriers, SPGS1 contacts him to ask if they still have the option to burn out from the dozer line. BR Supt tells him no. DIVS A, hearing the transmission, agrees and says he believes the fire is almost as far as the Granite Mountain vehicles. A moment later, DIVS A says, “I want to pass on that we’re going to make our way to our escape route.” BR Supt attempts to clarify, “You guys are in the black, correct?” DIVS A responds, “Yeah, we’re picking our way through the black.” DIVS A then mentions a road in the bottom and “going out toward the ranch.”

      • Sitta says

        Elizabeth,

        It is refreshing that you are finally getting specific and concrete about where you disagree with other forum members. I think this is going to help sort out the fuzzy areas much faster (even if our source materials still contradict each other sometimes).

        Does it make sense that GM gave up on line construction before taking a break at the “lunch spot”? I’m still trying to figure out when they would have stopped for a lunch break. I’m not expecting 30 minutes, but more than five. As it is now, we have photos of the sawyers moving at 15:52 (Mackenzie and Caldwell cameras), and at 16:13 Marsh saying they are already on their way down (Yarnell_gamble video). I’m asking because the lunch stop seems a time when they may have reassessed tactics, and therefore worth looking into.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to calvin post on March 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      >> calvin asked…
      >>
      >> Is there any evidence of Musser contacting BR for “spare
      >> resources” after GM (Marsh or Steed) reportedly “turned down”
      >> the request and advised Musser to ask BR?

      There is no ‘direct evidence’ that I know of ( no captured radio
      calls, testimony, etc. ) that Musser ever called them BACK and
      either repeated the same request or had a *new* one.

      There is only ‘indirect evidence’ such as as the fact that we
      KNOW they ended up trying to get to town, anyway… and that
      someone ( Musser himself? ) was then urging them to ‘hurry up’
      in that YARNELL-GAMBLE video circa 1620.

      NOTE: There is also no evidence that Musser ever actually did
      what Steed ( or Marsh ) TOLD him to do regarding ‘contact
      Blue Ridge’… unless that evidence is what has been totally
      redacted from the Blue Ridge notes.

      According to ADOSH… the ORIGINAL ‘request for resources’
      from Musser came AFTER OPS1 Todd Abel had told them
      to 1) Keep him informed and 2) Hunker and be safe… and
      there was no ‘subsequent request’ on Musser’s part.

      According to ADOSH…

      The Marsh / Abel conversation came FIRST ( circa
      1545 – 1550 ), and then ( “shortly thereafter”, according
      to ADOSH ) came OPS2 Paul Musser’s infamous
      ‘request for resources’.

      NOTE: The ADOSH report never actually mentions
      the “Keep me informed, hunker and be safe, and
      we’ll get Air Support down there ASAP” quotes from
      OPS1 Abel… but the 1545 conversation they describe
      below does contain the “winds are getting squirrely”
      statement from Marsh which other reports attribute
      to that same “hunker and be safe” conversation.

      It is still POSSIBLE there was yet another conversation
      with Abel following Musser’s request… but as far as
      *documented* evidence of which came first… ( the chicken
      or the egg ) this really is the best ‘documented’ evidence
      that we have ( so far, anyway )…

      Page 18 of ADOSH report…

      At approximately 1545 hours, Division A Supervisor Marsh
      had a radio conversation with Operations Section Chief 1
      Abel regarding the weather and the position of Granite
      Mountain iHC. Marsh was located near the top of the
      Weaver Mountains and had a clear view of the
      thunderstorm, the fire, and the valley below. Marsh and
      Abel had been watching the storm for some time and
      discussed their concerns regarding the storms effects.
      Marsh reportedly stated that Granite Mountain
      was safe and in the black (i.e., previously burned wildland).
      Marsh mentioned that the winds were “squirre|y” at his
      position and that the retardant and dozer lines north of
      Yarnell were being compromised.

      Shortly thereafter, Operations Section Chief 2 Musser
      radioed GMIHC and asked if they could spare resources
      to assist in Yarnell. Either Marsh or GMIHC Captain Steed
      responded that they were committed to the black and that
      Musser should contact BRIHC working in the valley (during
      his interview Musser stated that he wasn’t sure who he was
      talking with).

  72. Gary Olson says

    I find it very hard to believe any hand crew supervisor would ever ask somebody flying around in airplane above a fire (at 140 plus miles per hour?) whose view is often obscured by smoke, terrain, or vegetation, etc., to be a “lookout” for their crew, especially when that someone who has another job they are currently doing and who has other priorities.

    There is a great deal you can’t see, feel, hear, or experience from the air. I wouldn’t do that even if my assistant crew boss was in the plane and that was his only job. Of course I realize things have changed…but changed that much?

    I would take whatever they have to say and factor it into the equation, but I would never rely on what they have to say to determine what is best for my crew. I am finally commenting on this because I have been completely baffled by the suggestion since it first appeared.

    • Sitta says

      Yes. There is no way it makes sense to ask an over-stretched ASM to be a lookout. But then, this fire had already gone pyrocumulonimbus, which seems like it should have been plenty sign for ground crews to disengage to a safe area, lookout or no. By the time the fire is plume dominated, you can’t reliably predict its speed or direction, and the aerial resources could get grounded at any moment for their own safety. By 16:00, I don’t think any lookout, ground or aerial, could mitigate the danger of being in unburned fuel. And everybody should have been able to see that from where they were, no specialist required. The plume was huge, black, went tens of thousands of feet into the air, and contained fire whorls.

      I’m not trying to MQB (Monday Quarterback) here, just attempting (as I think Gary Olson is) to shepherd the conversation back into the realm of meaningful tactics.

      Unless, of course, that IS the point — that someone on the line DID consider the ASM an appropriate lookout? This, too, I doubt. But if it happened, then it SHOULD be discussed. I just haven’t seen any evidence of it. Maybe someone else has.

      The only reason I can think of for Bravo 33 and the VLAT dropping retardant in DIV A was to slow the fire spread enough for GM to squeak through. Every moment they were on DIV A was a moment that they weren’t dropping over Glen Ilah or Yarnell, which should have been the priorities.

      But there isn’t any real evidence that this is what B-33 were asked to do (Musser’s message to Marsh to hunker down while they try to get air support down there suggests it as a possibility, but most definitely does not prove anything). And with the fire as active as it was at 16:30, retardant wasn’t even going to slow down the front. So what were they doing there?

      Hmm.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        There is absolutely no evidence that anyone ever ASKED
        either the original ASM ( Rory Collins ) or the *new* AMS2
        circa 4:00 PM ( French / Burfiend ) to act as ‘lookout’ for
        ANYONE.

        Elizabeth’s original comments that started this whole
        current discussion regarding ‘airplane as lookout’ was
        simply based on her saying that ( according to new
        evidence she seems to have ) she would be inclined
        to believe that GM simply *thought* that some airplane
        was going to be their lookout and ( thereby ) it could
        be said they were actually ‘following the rules’ that day.

        Unless this *thought* on their part was ever verbalized
        during the ‘discussing their options’ conversation and
        we (someday) discover that Brendan McDonough
        heard them say that was what they were *thinking*…

        …then we will never know for sure.

        Yes… it is ABSURD to even think that’s what they *might*
        have been thinking… but this whole Yarnell Incident
        became theater of the absurd on Saturday when a
        puny 2 acre fire that was quiet all day with 14 guys
        just doing ‘mop up’ work for 6 frickin’ hours suddenly became an out-of-control 113 acre fire.

        >> Sitta also wrote…
        >> The plume was huge, black, went tens of thousands
        >> of feet into the air, and contained fire whorls.

        Yes, it did… and for GM to not have LOOKED UP and
        seen what was happening even BEFORE they stepped
        off that two-track goes beyond theatre-of-the-absurd
        into the realm of theatre-of-the-incredulous.

        They did not NEED a frickin’ lookout to point out to them
        what was happening when they still had time to make
        sane decisions and survive what was about to happen.

        All they had to do was LOOK UP.

        Apparently… they never did.

        • Bob Powers says

          WTKTT—pretty much what I said but you added the detail. If a crew just assumed (thought) Air attack was there lookout with out any real discussion with them or the Air Attack actually knowing (pinpoint) location of the crew then that is a nonstarter. GM had NO LCES They thru safety out the window period it is sad but true.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Copy that. Elizabeth is still saying she is
            inclined to “believe* that is what they *thought*
            and she keeps saying it is based on evidence
            that *she* has. I wonder what that ‘evidence’
            is ( that we don’t know about? ) that might
            be reinforcing her thinking. Maybe she’ll
            say more about it someday.

            >> Elizabeth said…
            >> …in lining up all of the evidence that I
            >> currently have available to ME, this is
            >> the view that I am developing