Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation Ignored Major Mistakes by the State

The following story and videos were produced and reported by InvestigativeMEDIA and appeared in the Phoenix New Times.
By John Dougherty
Published Wed., Oct. 16 2013 at 12:00 PM
Illustration by Justin Renteria.

Former Yarnell Fire Chief Peter Andersen sat under a tree in his front yard having his morning coffee on Sunday, June 30, when the Granite Mountain Hotshots drove past his Glen Ilah home.

“At 8:03, [their] two buggies went by,” Andersen says. “Right after they went by, the leaves started to blow. I shook my head. [The state] didn’t listen to me.”

Andersen, who resigned as Yarnell chief in 2011 after 12 years of service, was aggravated because he had warned an Arizona Forestry Division fire manager the night before that it was crucial to attack the steadily expanding fire in the hills above Yarnell at dawn, before prevailing southwesterly winds picked up about 8 in the morning.


Courtesy of Joy Collura
Hikers took this photo of the Granite Mountain Hotshots marching up a trail at 9:18 a.m. on June 30.

“I said, this being summertime, it will give you three hours . . . without wind at your backs to be able to get this thing under control,” Andersen says he told a fire manager.

Seeing the hotshots roll past so late on Sunday morning was yet another signal to Andersen that the Forestry Division was failing to aggressively attack a wildfire that started two days earlier.

See Also: Yarnell Hill Fire: Investigating the Deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots

All the ingredients for fire disaster were present: It was peak summer-burning season, the area had just sustained record-high temperatures, and the landscape was overgrown with chaparral, creating a tinderbox poised to explode.

Andersen says the lack of urgency to put out the fire caused him to wonder whether the state was content to let it burn through the dense chaparral that choked the gaps between massive granite boulders strewn across the Weaver Mountains that flank Yarnell to the west. The east slope of the mountains hadn’t experienced a wildfire since 1966.

As the two white Granite Mountain vans drove on a narrow road that led to the base of the mountains, Andersen thought that fire managers were “doing a sloppy job” handling what he and other firefighters knew was a “volatile” situation.

The state’s underwhelming effort to control the wildfire collapsed late Sunday afternoon when the prevailing southwesterly winds were replaced by powerful downdrafts from a thunderstorm approaching from the northeast. Weather forecasters issued a warning about the approaching storm to fire managers at 3:26 p.m. The warning was relayed to the Granite Mountain crew.

The 50 mile-per-hour downdrafts from the thunderstorm blew up a fire that had burned about 4,000 acres by 3 p.m. into an 8,000-acre conflagration a few hours later.

The three key environmental factors affecting wildfire behavior fell into perfect alignment: wind, fuel, and topography. The drought-stricken desert scrub, combined with the thunderstorm’s powerful winds, generated a wall of flame that surged across relatively flat ground at about 12 miles per hour — extraordinarily fast for a fire.

The powerful wind bent the 80-foot-high flames nearly parallel to the ground as the fire approached the base of the Weavers. The intensity and speed of the fire accelerated as it entered several box canyons that served as funnels, further amplifying its fury.

For reasons that remain unknown, the Granite Mountain Hotshots left their safe spot in a burned-over area on a ridge sometime after 4 p.m. and dropped down the side of the mountain. About 4:40 p.m., they hiked through dense chaparral at the base of one of the canyons, apparently attempting to reach Boulder Springs Ranch, which had been designated as a safety zone because the owners had cleared a wide swath of vegetation from around the property.

Suddenly, the fire swept around the northern flank of the canyon’s wall and surged toward the 19 men, covering the last 100 yards in 19 seconds. The crew had less than two minutes to react to the 2,000-degree firestorm that quickly engulfed their position. There was no chance of survival.

Like tens of thousands of people who’ve closely examined the circumstances leading up to the hotshots’ deaths, Anderson doesn’t understand why the crew was in the box canyon in the first place, much less at a time of day when wildfires typically display their greatest intensity and when thunderstorm warnings had been issued.

“Anybody who has ever taken a wild-lands class is warned about box canyons,” Andersen says. “You might as well be standing in a fireplace with the flue open.”

The question of why the men were there haunts Andersen. And, he says, the lack of substantive conclusions in a report issued September 28 after a state-commissioned investigation into their deaths has left him unsatisfied.

“I think it’s a big cover-up, a big snow job,” he says. “It tries to take any semblance of blame off anybody.”

Andersen evacuated from his home about the same time that the Granite Mountain crew deployed their fire shelters designed to withstand temperatures of about 300 degrees.
“The heat was so intense that it was choking me,” Andersen says. “I could see [the fire] coming over the ridge . . . and you couldn’t see the top of the column of smoke. And it was starting to slowly spin . . . like a slow tornado, throwing embers everywhere.”



Photo by John Dougherty
Expert Doug Campbell says, “They knew the rules were against them when they were going downhill in the green.”

Three days after the disaster, the Arizona Forestry Division commissioned a “Serious Accident Investigation Team” to review events leading up to the fatal entrapment that inflicted the worst blow to an Interagency Hotshot Crew since such forest-firefighting units were formed nationally in the 1940s.

When the investigation team, headed by Florida State Forester Jim Karels, released its report to the public three weeks ago, the 116-page document’s astonishing conclusion was that everybody involved in the Yarnell Hill Fire did everything right — despite the incineration of the 19 hotshots by flames so hellish that granite boulders fractured.


Courtesy Photo
The Forestry Division’s Russ Shumate.

“The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable,” the report states. “Firefighters performed within their scope of duty, as defined by their respective organizations. The Team found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol.”

The report concludes that, because of a lack of communication between the Granite Mountain crew and fire managers and other firefighters in the 30 minutes leading up to the hotshots’ entrapment, it’s impossible to determine why the crew decided to leave the safe burned-over area and descend into the chaparral-choked box canyon — an action that violated numerous firefighting safety protocols.

“We cannot fully know how they made their decisions prior to their entrapment and fire shelter deployment,” the report states. “No crewmembers from the deployment site survived to tell why the crew took the actions they took.”

The state Forestry Division’s Roy Hall, incident commander in charge of the fire at the time the hotshots perished, praised the report for finding “no smoking gun,” according to published news reports.

The inherent contradictions in a report that assigns no blame for the deaths of so many young men reveal what murky standards wild-land firefighters must work under.

On one hand, the National Interagency Fire Center website instructs them always to obey the 10 “Standard Fire Orders” and 18 “Watch Out” situations developed to protect firefighters in the field. Indeed, the center states that the rules are to be strictly followed: “We don’t bend them, we don’t break them.”

On the other, the same agency adopted a policy earlier this year that states the “10 and the 18” are merely “guidelines” that should be incorporated into decision making by experienced wildfire leaders making split-second judgments in an environment with many variables that could change suddenly.

The result is a system that makes it virtually impossible to hold anyone accountable for fatal accidents, that leaves firefighters with no clear directives about how to operate in the field.

“Everybody’s lawyering up … That’s why the report’s written that way.” — Doug Campbell, a retired Forest Service fire-management officer who’s widely respected for developing a wildfire-prediction system used in more than 20 European countries.

“There appears to be a kinder, gentler, and softer approach” to enforcing the 10 Standard Fire Orders, says Dick Mangan, a retired wildfire accident investigator who has participated in many high-profile, wildfire-fatality reviews — including ones concerning the 1990 Dude Fire near Payson that killed six firefighters and the 1994 South Canyon fire in Colorado that claimed 14 lives.

“I have a hard time understanding that everybody did everything right, and 19 people died,” he says.

Regardless of whether the Granite Mountain crew violated orders/guidelines, leading wildfire experts say the state-commissioned investigation report primarily is a diversionary tactic to protect the Forestry Division and other government entities, including the city of Prescott. They say the report seeks to innoculate wildfire managers overseeing Yarnell Hill operations from potential liability from lawsuits and possible criminal charges.

“Everybody’s lawyering up,” says Doug Campbell, a retired Forest Service fire-management officer who’s widely respected for developing a wildfire-prediction system used in more than 20 European countries but not formally adopted in the United States. “That’s why the report’s written that way.”

Mangan, who had hoped before the report was released that it would “let the chips fall where they may,” says the Yarnell Hill investigation fails to deliver clear lessons that could be used to prevent future fatal accidents. The report, he says, didn’t analyze adequately the state’s management of a complex series of events leading to the fatal incident to determine factors that contributed to it.

“There’s usually a chain of events — things that happened that shouldn’t have happened” — that contribute to fatal wildfire incidents, he says. “If you break the chain of events, then the accident doesn’t happen.”

Wildfire experts interviewed for this story identified key inadequately analyzed factors in the investigation that may have contributed to the tragedy, including:

• The state’s failed initial attack on the fire created a situation that later placed hundreds of firefighters at risk to put out a fire that could’ve been controlled easily.

• Once the initial attack failed, the state dispatched a skeleton management team to direct firefighting operations, but the team didn’t have sufficient resources to adequately fight the blaze. When it assumed control, the state’s “Type 2 Short” incident-management team lacked “safety officers” and “division supervisors” whose absence may have contributed to a breakdown in communications during the crucial 30 minutes before the hotshots died.

• The investigation report didn’t thoroughly examine the mental and physical condition of the Granite Mountain crew on the day it was dispatched to Yarnell — its scheduled day off and the 28th day it had worked in June.

Wildfire experts say it’s essential that firefighters and fire-management teams have an acute understanding of environmental forces that can affect the intensity, rate of growth, and direction of wildfires. Failure to understand and recognize these forces, they stress, can lead to catastrophic results. Among the most important factors are topography, fuel temperature, and wind speed and direction.

The art of understanding how a wildfire behaves and predicting what environmental factors can cause it to change suddenly is defined by professionals as “situational awareness.”

Experts, including Doug Campbell, say a woeful lack of basic training in wildfire behavior has led to a lack of such awareness among firefighters on the front lines, as well as among managers directing operations.

“If firefighters can make accurate predictions as to the specific time and place where fire-behavior changes will occur, then no attack should fail — no firefighter should lose [his] life or be injured by fire,” Campbell states in his book The Campbell Prediction System.

The Yarnell Hill investigation report, Campbell and other experts say, fails to adequately address what was a clear lack of situational awareness by the state management team from the start of the fire. Instead, it focuses almost exclusively on dead firefighters whose actions and decisions cannot be explained.

The report “is a shell game in so many ways that it does a disservice to what we know about fire management,” says Paul Orozco, a retired U.S. Forest Service fire-management officer who participated in the investigation into the deaths of four firefighters in the 2001 Thirtymile Fire near Winthrop, Washington.


There still was more than two hours of daylight after the fire first was reported at 5:41 p.m. on Friday, June 28 — more than enough time for a quick strike by firefighters before nightfall, wildfire experts say.

Former Yarnell Fire Chief Andersen is convinced that the fire could’ve been extinguished the evening it started if the Yarnell Hill Fire Department and the state had quickly responded.

“There’s a jeep road that goes up there to it,” he says. “There’s no reason for that [fire] not to have been put out.”

But Yarnell had only two firefighters, including a volunteer more than 70 years old, on duty that evening. Dispatch records suggest that the department gave no serious consideration to going up the mountain to fight the fire. No one even answered a state dispatcher’s 6:09 p.m. phone call to the Yarnell department.

Yarnell’s fire chief at the time, Jim Koile, isn’t a Yarnell resident and wasn’t in town the night the fire started. Koile resigned October 8 under mounting pressure from outraged residents who believe the department could’ve done far more to protect their community.
Firefighters from the nearby community of Congress were poised to at least attempt to engage the fire with Yarnell’s department but were directed by state officials not to respond.

“They basically told us they were working on it,” Congress Fire Chief Virgil Suitor says of state Forestry Division representatives. “They told us to stand down because it was up on the rock pile.”

There were substantial firefighting resources available nearby in the Prescott National Forest, where the Doce Fire that burned more than 6,800 acres northwest of Prescott was nearly contained. The Granite Mountain crew worked on the Doce Fire from June 18 to 25 and on the West Spruce Fire, near the Doce burn, on June 28 and 29.

A helicopter with a water bucket and handful of firefighters flown to the ridge top could’ve knocked down the then-half-acre Yarnell Hill Fire on Friday evening, experienced wild-land firefighters and former hotshot crew leaders say.

The investigation report doesn’t address why the state didn’t ask Prescott National Forest officials or other federal agencies with substantial firefighter resources for immediate assistance to put out the fire.

The Arizona Dispatch Center alerted state Forestry Division assistant fire management officer Russ Shumate about the lightning-caused fire at 5:45 p.m. Shumate has worked in central Arizona since 1995 and is familiar with the Weaver Mountains.

The report doesn’t mention Shumate’s lackadaisical response to the start of the fire, even though state dispatchers seemed prepared to ramp up the attack immediately.

“Do we need to order additional resources?” the state dispatcher asked Shumate after notifying him about the fire.

“Negative. We might get a crew in there tomorrow,” Shumate responded.

Ten minutes later, a Prescott wildfire dispatcher contacted the Arizona Dispatch Center and asked whether the state was “sending any air resources to Yarnell.”

“Negative,” replied the state dispatcher. Instead, the state requested that an “air-attack” plane still working on the Doce Fire fly over Yarnell and provide an assessment. Air-attack aircraft serve as airborne command centers.

At 6:03 p.m., Arizona dispatch notified Shumate that the Congress Fire Department had been advised to “stand by.” Shumate, for the second time, responded that the state “may have a couple of crew(s) ordered for tomorrow.”

Nearly an hour after the fire was first reported, a crew member aboard a federal Bureau of Land Management fire engine notified state dispatch that his crew was in contact with a local Yarnell rancher who saw the lightning strike, and “we are going to follow him up to where it is.”

The state dispatch log, however, provided no additional information on what happened to the BLM fire engine, stating that radio contact was lost.

There was no other mention of the BLM engine in state dispatch logs until 9:35 p.m., when Shumate stated that it was returning to its base near Wickenburg.

The Yarnell investigation report doesn’t provide information on the failed attempt by the BLM engine to reach the fire. Instead, it focuses on a dispatch from the air-attack plane’s fire officer, who flew over the fire and reported that it was in a boulder field with no vehicular access and showing little smoke.

According to the investigation report and dispatch logs, Shumate, after talking to the air-attack plane, determined it was “less than a half-acre in size, 80 percent out, active only in one corner with low spread potential and no structures or people at risk.”

Shumate told Arizona dispatchers at 7:19 p.m. that the fire was “inactive, not much of a threat” and that he was “not taking action tonight.” Shumate also told state dispatch that he was “at [his Prescott] office until further notice.”

Shumate, the investigative report states, didn’t dispatch firefighters to the scene because he was concerned for their safety moving at night across rugged terrain, where they could be exposed to lightning strikes.

It’s unclear how Shumate came to his assessment on Friday evening. State dispatch logs mention that Shumate didn’t arrive “on scene” in Yarnell until 6:51 a.m. on Saturday, June 29.

State Forestry Division public information officer Carrie Dennett didn’t respond to e-mails sent on October 9 and 12 and to voice messages on October 10 and 12 asking about Shumate’s location on June 28.

It would constitute a serious management failure if Shumate wasn’t on scene to personally assess the fire on the night it started and then made decisions on how and when to deploy resources, says wildfire expert Paul Orozco.

“It [would be] negligent not to physically see the fire and make a call on it,” Orozco says. “This isn’t about guessing . . . If you don’t get it right, it could kill people.”


Once Friday slipped away, former Yarnell Fire Chief Andersen says, the state had another opportunity to put out the fire early Saturday morning — by deploying effective firefighters and air tankers to drop fire retardant immediately after sunrise.

But that didn’t happen, either.

Rather than hitting the fire at dawn (5:20 a.m.), Shumate didn’t arrive in Yarnell until shortly before 7 a.m. His late arrival was a precursor to a series of mistakes, mechanical failures, weather changes, and other delays that would plague firefighting efforts throughout the day.

The investigation report lays out many of the problems as a series of isolated events. It never mentions the state’s failure to quickly apply adequate resources to control what initially was a very small blaze.

More than 17 hours passed from the initial lightning strike before the state had firefighters helicoptered to within a quarter-mile of the fire at 10:48 a.m. on Saturday, June 29. By this time, the fire was reported at eight acres. Its size was reduced to about two acres shortly after noon.

Not only was the state slow to respond, it sent in an ill-equipped, six-man crew from Lewis State Prison that wasn’t trained to handle initial attacks on wildfires (such crews generally are used for mop-up operations), wildfire experts say. But dispatching $1-an-hour-per-man prison crews rather than deploying more experienced firefighters, such as hotshot crews — which cost about $800 an hour — is a way for the state to save money fighting forest fires.

Shumate’s first mistake was failing to place an order for an air-attack-command plane until 8:33 a.m. A little later, the aircraft broke down before takeoff. A replacement was ordered at 9:26 a.m. The second air-attack plane operated only until noon, when it developed an oil leak and was taken out of service. The plane was repaired a couple of hours later, but Shumate released it from the Yarnell Hill Fire.

In addition to the air-attack plane, Shumate ordered two single-engine air tankers at 8:33 a.m., but they were hundreds of miles away. One of the planes, holding 450 gallons of retardant, took off from the Marana Regional Airport at 9:24 a.m. and another, with 750 gallons of retardant, departed from Wilcox at 9:43 a.m.

The long flight time to Yarnell limited the state’s ability to apply retardant on and around the fire early in the morning. The planes each made two drops of retardant near the fire before noon and then landed in Prescott to refuel and for the crew to have lunch. The planes remained on the ground in Prescott for another three hours before flying to an airfield in Wickenburg just after 3 p.m.

Shumate had planned for these planes to use the reloading base in Wickenburg, 41 miles closer than the Prescott base. This would’ve allowed the state to apply more retardant at quicker intervals at less expense. But the Wickenburg retardant-reloading base wasn’t operational until after 3 p.m.

Without the air-attack plane, which Shumate earlier had released from the fire, to report on conditions, he decided to remove two fire-engine crews at 3:40 p.m.

After these reductions in resources deployed to the fire, Shumate then reversed tactics at 4 p.m. and recalled the air-attack plane to do reconnaissance. The plane, however, had flown out of the area and wasn’t available for another 40 minutes.

At this point, conditions on the ground were deteriorating rapidly.

Shumate notified state dispatch at 4:15 p.m. that ground crews were “still having trouble catching” the fire, by then estimated at two to four acres with “creeping factors.” The recalled air-attack plane, meanwhile, still was more than 30 minutes out — which meant that a detailed aerial assessment of the blaze couldn’t yet be made and that the single-engine air tankers, standing by in Wickenburg, couldn’t yet be told where to drop retardant.

Minutes after the air-attack plane finally arrived over the fire, Shumate requested at 4:55 p.m. that a helicopter tanker be sent to Yarnell. This was an indication that ground crews were having serious trouble controlling the fire.

But the order for the “heli-tanker” wasn’t immediately processed because of “confusion” between the Arizona dispatcher, Shumate, and the federal regional dispatch center in Albuquerque, the investigation report states.

The state’s window of opportunity to put out the Yarnell Hill Fire was closing rapidly.

With each passing minute, the fire gained ground, as wildfires tend to do in the late afternoon. The fire gained energy as it steadily backed down the mountain and moved into a location where topography, available fuels, and favorable winds increased its intensity.

The fire got the upper hand at 5:18 p.m. when it jumped a two-track road that served as a firebreak on the eastern flank and quickly spread over two acres. “That should’ve never happened,” says a former Arizona hotshot crew superintendent who continues to work with federal wildfire crews and asked not to be named.

Shumate knew this meant trouble. At 5:38 p.m., he alerted Arizona dispatch that the fire now posed a threat to Yarnell and Peeples Valley in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Shumate’s problems continued to mount. At 5:42 p.m., he learned that the heli-tanker and a large airplane tanker had turned down requests to fly to Yarnell because of dangerous weather conditions.

Three minutes later, Shumate was faced with a crucial decision.

Federal dispatchers offered Shumate the services of one of only two Very Large Air Tankers in the United States. The converted DC-10s are capable of carrying up to 11,400 gallons of retardant. The aircraft, however, are very expensive to operate, costing $12,500 an hour for a full load of retardant. The plane would take off from Albuquerque and would require about two hours of flight time.

The fire’s location on a high ridge was an “ideal” target for the big jet because it could’ve avoided dangerous maneuvers in the mountainous area, says a wildfire air-operations supervisor who asked not to be identified. The big plane could’ve provided the chance to knock down the fire or at least given ground crews an opportunity to contain the rapidly growing blaze.

Shumate turned down the opportunity to call in the big DC-10 tanker at 5:50 p.m. The investigation report states that he made the decision based on “fire conditions.”

Instead of calling in the big jet, Shumate continued to use the single-engine planes, whose effectiveness diminishes as winds pick up. The smaller planes dropped another 5,400 gallons of retardant by the time they were grounded by darkness at 8 p.m.
Shumate estimated in his daily “Incident Status Summary” that the state spent about $20,000 on June 29 in its failed initial attack on the Yarnell Hill Fire. After Shumate lost control of the fire, his Forestry Division bosses called in more than a dozen fire-management specialists as part of a “Type 2 Short” team to take over fire operations the next day.

But wildfire experts say this unit was woefully inadequate to handle the explosive situation it soon would face. One state firefighter derisively called these state fire managers the “B” team.

“It just didn’t have the horses,” wildfire expert Orozco says of the Type 2 Short squad.



Left: Ex-Fire Chief Peter Andersen says the state’s response was extremely slow. Right: Florida State Forester Jim Karels, whose investigators found that nobody was at fault in the hotshots’ deaths.

Some members of the state’s Type 2 Short team arrived in Yarnell on Sunday, June 30, in time for a 7 a.m. briefing. The fire had grown to an estimated 300 to 500 acres overnight. The team didn’t include all the division supervisors needed to oversee specific geographic areas of the fire — or safety officers.

Shumate met with incoming incident commander Roy Hall about 9:30 a.m. to discuss fire conditions. Transitions of management teams ideally take about a day, wildfire experts say. But, in this case, Hall formally took over operation of the fire from Shumate at 10:22 a.m., less than an hour after their briefing began.

The transition was so rushed that the state didn’t prepare a written “Incident Action Plan” or accompanying fire maps for the June 30 operations period. These are federal requirements for a Type 2 fire.

The clumsy transition, experts say, left little time for the new team to understand the complexities of the rapidly changing fire. The fire investigation report ignored the shortcomings of the state’s Type 2 Short team and the uneven transition.

Less than an hour after taking over, Hall discussed bringing in a full Type 2 team with state Fire Management Officer David Geyer. At 1 p.m., the state belatedly finished a “fire complexity analysis,” a critical report that should’ve been completed immediately after the state’s initial attack failed the previous afternoon, Orozco says.

The state then requested a federally managed full Type 2 team. An hour later, it scrapped the plan and requested a federal Type 1 team, the highest-level incident-management unit used for the most complex and dangerous fires. But that team couldn’t be on the ground until late the next day.

It was up to Hall’s understaffed Type 2 Short team to handle a fire that was rapidly overwhelming available resources. “They were behind the curve,” says expert Doug Campbell.

The state’s scramble for personnel required it to make a crucial decision that directly affected the Granite Mountain Hotshots.

The lack of sufficient management personnel forced the state to assign Granite Mountain Superintendent Eric Marsh as division supervisor for the southwest flank of the fire. Granite Mountain Captain Jesse Steed assumed immediate command of the crew.

Wildfire accident-investigation expert Mangan believes this was a pivotal mistake that weakened fire managers’ control and understanding of the hotshots’ actions. Marsh, Mangan says, still was in direct charge of the crew as the Division A supervisor and wouldn’t need to report to an independent division supervisor who may have challenged his decisions.

“You have taken one link out of the chain of command,” Mangan says.

This later would prove critical to when the Granite Mountain crew descended from the safe, burned-over area on top of the mountain into the box canyon filled with live fuel. The crew apparently was headed to the Boulder Springs Ranch, which had been designated during a morning briefing as a safety zone.

During the frantic moments leading up to the crew’s entrapment, fire managers were overwhelmed. They were making split-second decisions deploying aircraft, evacuating Yarnell, and calling off firefighters and equipment as the firestorm rapidly intensified. Granite Mountain’s location, the investigation report states, wasn’t a primary concern because managers believed the crew was in the safe, charred-black area near the top of the mountain.

About 4 p.m., an aircraft crew member got worried after hearing a comment on the plane’s radio referencing a crew and a safety zone. The fire officer on the plane asked an operations chief whether radio traffic should be suspended to determine what was happening. The operations chief stated that Granite Mountain was the crew mentioned and that “they’re in a good place.”

The investigation report states that, soon after, Marsh announced on the radio, “We’re going down our escape route to our safety zone.”

The airborne fire manager asked, “Is everything okay?” Marsh replied, “Yes, we’re just moving.”

This was an important moment in the sequence of events that would claim 19 lives. No one from the state’s management team followed up on Marsh’s comment about moving the crew, according to the investigation report.

There are at least two possible reasons for the lack of response from fire managers: Marsh didn’t need to report to a division supervisor since he had assumed that role. And it’s uncertain whether a safety officer was on duty at this critical moment, state dispatch records show.

A state dispatcher contacted Marty Cole at 2:24 p.m. and requested that he report to the fire as a safety officer. Cole lives in Chino Valley and faced at least an hourlong drive to reach the incident command center in Peeples Valley.

As with New Times’ other request of her, Forestry Division public information officer Dennett didn’t respond to e-mails and voicemails requesting information on when Cole and two other safety officers, also requested on the afternoon of June 30, arrived and assumed duties in Yarnell.

Safety officers are principal advisers to incident commanders in fire-management operations.

Among safety officers’ primary concerns are extreme fire behavior, escape routes, and safe zones — the exact issues that Granite Mountain discussed but operational chiefs ignored or misunderstood.

It’s vital to note that a safety officer has authority to override chain of command when an immediate threat to life or risk of serious injury is evident.

Expert Mangan, who offers training courses for safety officers, says Marsh’s announcement that Granite Mountain was moving from its safe zone in the charred area should’ve prompted a safety officer, if one was present, to request that Marsh provide more information and possibly stop the crew from moving off the ridge.

“The more people you have involved in a decision like that, the better chance you are going to come up with a better decision,” Mangan says.

The intensity and speed of the wildfire as it stormed toward Yarnell stunned the state’s management team: “The fire way-outperformed our expectations and surpassed any thoughts we had about our trigger points,” one of the two operations chiefs told investigators.

Granite Mountain also didn’t predict the fire’s eventual path. The hotshots had parked their two vans at the base of the mountain in an area that turned out to be directly in front of the fire after the thunderstorm reversed the inferno’s direction 180 degrees. It’s possible that the crew’s decision to leave its safety zone atop the mountain was related to the threat on their vehicles.

The investigation report states that at 3:50 p.m., an air-attack officer notified Marsh that the fire had reversed direction, was heading quickly toward Yarnell, and could arrive in one to two hours. The air-attack officer also told Marsh that the crew’s vehicles may be in the path of the fire.

Marsh told this officer that he had a plan to address the issue. The investigation report, however, doesn’t elaborate on what Marsh’s plan was. The air-attack plane then left the area because the pilot was approaching the limit of hours he could fly legally in one day.

The exchange between the air-attack officer and Marsh was another opportunity where a safety officer or an independent division supervisor could’ve played a key role by clarifying Marsh’s intentions and advising him to keep the crew in the charred zone.

That Granite Mountain parked its vehicles on ground that later burned and the operations chief’s admission that the fire “outperformed our expectations” show that Arizona’ wildfire managers failed to anticipate the Yarnell fire’s potential intensity and direction during a time of year when monsoon storms are frequent, critics believe.

Basic “situational awareness” of wildfire behavior, Orozco says, didn’t occur in regard to the Yarnell Hill Fire.


Sonny “Tex” Gilligan and Joy Collura began their hike up the Weaver Mountains at 4 a.m. on Sunday, June 30. The avid hikers and part-time cave dwellers wanted to get a close look at the fire atop the mountain. They knew the backcountry inside out and were very familiar with the difficulty of hiking through dense desert shrubs.

On their way up the mountain, they bushwhacked through the box canyon where the Granite Mountain crew later perished. The hikers already were at the top of the mountain when they saw the Granite Mountain Hotshots coming up a two-track trail about 9:18 a.m.
Gilligan, an experienced outdoorsman and former cowboy and miner, was shocked at the hotshot crew’s condition.

“What I saw was a group of men [who] were totally spent. They looked like they were tired. They weren’t somebody you would want to fight a fire,” Gilligan says. “They needed rest.”

The hikers stayed on the mountain until about 2 p.m. with temperatures hovering about 103 degrees. They observed the crew from time to time throughout the day. The crew, they said, didn’t appear to be doing much active work.

Gilligan says their inactivity led him to believe that the fire was a “controlled burn.” It appeared “they were actually trying to let it go, and they just wanted to clear this brush off this mountain,” he says.

Gilligan and Collura saw the fire take off about 12:30 p.m. as it swept over a hill below the mountain in about 14 minutes. Gilligan estimates that it covered about 300 acres in just a few minutes.

“We were looking at . . . rolls of fire, fire jumping up 40, 50 feet in the air,” Gilligan recalls. “No way are we were going to hang around there.”

Throughout the morning, the hikers watched thunderstorms building to the northeast, near Prescott. Gilligan knew the storms could affect the fire. “When there’s a thunderstorm in an area like this, that wind can change quickly, and it can change fast,” Gilligan says. “That’s where the danger is.”

The investigation report doesn’t mention what Gilligan and Collura observed about the fire’s behavior or about the crew’s condition, even though the hikers were the last people to see the Granite Mountain Hotshots alive. Nor does the report provide any details of the crew’s workload the previous month, mention that June 30 was the crew’s scheduled day off, and that the crew had worked 28 days in June.

“We don’t know the condition of the crew [from the report],” says wildfire expert Campbell, noting that this is a crucial missing element in the investigation.

Lead investigator Jim Karels, in an interview after releasing the report, dismissed a statement by federal dispatchers at the Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque that the only Hotshot crew available on June 30 initially was the Blue Ridge Hotshots (who indeed were deployed to Yarnell).

Karels insisted that the SWCC never stated that only one crew would be available. “No, absolutely not,” he said. (The SWCC has declined to comment.)

The state Forestry Division’s dispatch log, however, shows that an Arizona dispatcher requested at 6:21 p.m. on June 29 that the SWCC send two hotshot crews to Yarnell by 6 a.m. the next day. A SWCC dispatcher responded four minutes later, stating, “I can fill one with Blue Ridge. That will be the only [hotshot crew] I have for tomorrow, though.”

Karels says the SWCC never turned down a request for Granite Mountain to be sent to the fire, but instead the SWCC “kicked it back” to the state and instructed the state to fill it “internally” with Granite Mountain.

Yet no such exchange between the SWCC and the state Forestry Division appears in Arizona dispatch logs.

Former hotshot supervisors suggest that one reason the SWCC initially stated that only Blue Ridge was available was because Granite Mountain would be working its 13th consecutive day on its scheduled day off. By doing this, the crew would’ve been unavailable later in the week for an assignment out of the area.

In any case, there’s no question that Granite Mountain had only two days off in June and that the Yarnell Hill fire was its 26th day in the month on a fire line. The hotshots spent two days working at the crew station or on “fuels reduction.” The crew often worked 16-hour shifts, SWCC records state.

Campbell believes fatigue may have been a major factor in the crew’s decision to come off the mountain rather than remain in “the black.” Campbell suggests that Marsh and Steed knew that the crew was tired, hungry, and low on water. The option of staying on the mountain all night wasn’t appealing, nor was following the long trail down to Yarnell that the two hikers had taken safely a few hours earlier.

Campbell believes the Granite Mountain crew concluded that its best course of action — one that would allow members to rest and be ready to re-engage the fire the next day — was to get off the mountain as soon as possible by hiking through the box canyon to the ranch safety zone.

“They knew the rules were against them when they were going downhill in the green,” Campbell believes.

But, he says, rules don’t always stop hotshots from attempting to accomplish a mission.
“The culture of a hotshot crew is a problem,” Campbell says. “They aren’t one to hold back. They are braver than they ought to be.”

© Copyright 2013 John Dougherty, All rights Reserved. Written For: Investigative MEDIA


  1. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to calvin post on December 8, 2013 at 10:54 am

    >> calvin said
    >> P 15 AOSHA Worksheets for Proposed Citation……
    >> At approximately 1630, Marsh spoke with ASM B33 (also identified as ASM2)
    >> and reported that they were going down their escape route to the safety zone.
    >> B33 asks if everything is ok. marsh responds that everything is ok they are
    >> just heading to the Safety Zone.
    >> If these accounts are all accurate, ASM2 was advised about GM position
    >> location and starting at 1545 had three other discussions with OPS1 and
    >> DIVA concerning their movements. ASM2 had one hour AFTER being
    >> asked to check on GM before the entrapment. ASM2 was aware GM was
    >> moving. ASM2 did not know the location of GM even after DIV A actually
    >> says “That is where we want the retardant.”
    >> There is a lot of new information ( in the ADOSH and WAFR ) to be
    >> dissected and analyzed.
    >> It should also be noted that ( in addition to Blue Ridge Hotshots)
    >> ASM2 (Thomas French and John Burfiend) were not allowed to
    >> be interviewed ( by ADOSH ) either.

    Not true… if the WFAR is to be believed.

    On page 15 of the Wildland Fire Associates Report ( WAFR ) it has a
    brief discussion of when ASM2 was requesting the ‘timeout’ to verify
    where Granite Mountain really was and OPS1 ( Abel ) blew him off
    and just said “they’re in good black.”

    There is a ‘footnote (6)’ on the ASM2 references in the WAFR and
    footnote (6) on page 15 says…

    (6) ADOSH Interview with ASM2.

    So if you are right about ADOSH being denied access to ASM2 as
    well as the Blue Ridge Hotshots… then that footnote in the WAFR is a total lie.

  2. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to calvin post on December 8, 2013 at 9:22 am

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> Any comments about the photo on page 13 Of Wildlands Fire
    >> Associates Report (WFAR?) How does this picture fit in with
    >> the rest of Mackenzie photos?
    >> Is this from Mackenzie phone or camera?

    No. It is NOT! This is NEW… and from a previously UNKNOWN source.

    Look closely. That is Christopher MacKenzie himself on the RIGHT hand side
    of this photo taking his picture IMG_0888 which would eventually become the
    photo on page 23 of the SAIR, and the one where the SAIT willy-nilly dialed
    back the actual TIME the photo was taken by 11-12 minutes just to suit
    their made-up narrative.

    THIS photo, on page 13 of the WFA report, was taken by whoever was standing
    just to the LEFT of Christopher MacKenzie just as he took his own IMG_0888.

    THIS photo ( in the WFA ) was actually taken only 3-5 seconds AFTER
    Christopher ( on the right ) took his own IMG_0888. There are only just a few
    seconds of separation between the two… but the WFA photo is definitely
    just (immediately) AFTER Chrstopher’s IMG_0888.

    How can you tell?… easy. Look at the SMOKE in both photos. At the far right
    of the smoke cloud… there is a large swirl that, at that moment, looks just
    like the letter ‘C’.

    It is present in BOTH photographs… and has only advanced just slightly in
    relation to the ground as seen in Christopher’s IMG_0888.

    Now look at the smoke plume just above the edge of where the orange fireline
    on the ground stops as it tracks east.

    In the WFA photo… it has ‘puffed out’ only slightly from the way it is seen in
    Christopher’s IMG_0888.

    So who the hell took this WFA page 13 photo?

    WFA photo caption only says…

    “Figure 4. Photo taken by a GMIHC Crew member on two-track
    road on June 30, 2013.”

    Great. Thanks for nuthin’, fellas.

    These are NEW photos ( Previously unknown to even exist ).

    WHAT ‘device’ is this?
    WHOSE ‘device’ is this?

    Is this actually from one of the ACTIC ( Arizona Counter Terrorism Information
    Center ) data recovery dumps from one of the iPhones or Androids
    recovered at the deployment site and properly entered into evidence…

    …or is it from another ‘digital camera’ that ( like Christopher’s
    Canon Powershot ) was recovered from the bodies but never actually
    entered into evidence by the YCSO police investigators?

    How many MORE photos are there from ‘this device’?

    Taken at WHAT times??

    Where are the originals and/or copies? WHO has them now?

    Inquiring minds WANT TO KNOW.


    We now discover at least TWO more wrist watches. Christopher MacKenzie
    himself ( that’s his left arm in the WFA photo ) has a big one. Looks DIGITAL
    to me but the resolution is so good I think I may be able to actually identify the
    exact make/model of watch. Stay tuned.

    It also has the kind of ‘plastic band’ that would have melted during the burnover
    so this may be the ‘loose watch’ that was discovered in a shelter that ultimately
    didn’t even have a firefighter in it ( as per the YCSO police report ).

    Now look at Steed’s RIGHT arm. He is also now confirmed to be wearing a wrist
    watch that day… and his looks to be ANALOG. That means there’s a good
    chance Steed’s own watch could (finally) confirm the exact time of burnover,
    unless the analog parts kept running when the flames hit.

  3. Gary Olson says

    I am reposting my comment from above here because it got so hard to read up above. One thing I should have added is that IF any employee who ignores that kind of order of their agency, there is no doubt in my mind they would be fired immediately. You might be asking some young men to pay a very, very, heavy price price for everyone’s else’s, screw ups, lies, and deceit. Good luck getting another job in any similar field (firefighting) after being FIRED by the USFS. See my previous comment, They ARE THE 800 POUND GORRILLA IN THE NATION!

    In addition, and I am very, very fuzzy on this, I think there might be some federal law that applies specifically to the USDA, that the USFS is part of, that was enacted after the 30-Mile Fire, that does not apply to the USDI, of which the BLM is part of, that has to do with employees and actions and lawyers and really bad stuff (don’t quote me on that) in situations like this.

    So, here is my advice again…do not read to much into the Blue Ridge Hotshots refusing to cooperate with anyone…these decisions are being made at a table like I described in my very lengthy post above at GS pay grades way, way, way, above not only the heads of the Blue Ridge Hotshots, but their bosses at the District level, Forest level, Regional level and probably even the Washington level (of the USFS) Those decisions are being made at the Departmental level and maybe the Washington level at the Department of Justice.

    So…if any Blue Ridge Hotshots are following any of this…PLEASE DO NOT SAY ANYTHING TO ANYBODY ABOUT ANYTHING YOU MIGHT KNOW OR THINK YOU KNOW…EVEN IN CONFICENCE…THEY WILL BURN YOU IN A HEARTBEAT, and everything you have worked for will END.

    And even if a state judge orders something, it will most likely be moved into federal court by a motion and then the federal judge will dismiss it. There is a really, really, long list of people here who need to do the right thing, and even if you know something, you are way, way, down that list. Please.

    • Sonny says

      You are right on that Gary about the 888 pound Gorilla. We have met one of those ordered not to tell what they know and that person is afraid of his job, retirement, etc. Someone holds a sledge hammer and intends to use it if people talk. But what if that Gorilla or group of Gorillas are found out to be withholding evidence that would show negligence toward causing the deaths of those 19. Would that not be criminal on the gorilla’s part?

  4. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    >> TTWARE wrote…
    >> A quick note for any of those of you who may be ‘refreshing’ these
    >> comments and not re-entering the IM site, due to web issues,
    >> Investigative Media has requested this discussion be moved to the
    >> comments section attached to the article on the ADOSH report.
    >> See that request on the ‘Home’ page.

    Roger that. Just confirming here myself. Mr. Dougherty has requested
    we simply ‘continue’ this discussion under his other article thread
    about the new ADOSH report… which is at this URL…


    That’s a ‘logical’ break and just makes this thread the Pre-ADOSH
    release discussion ( mostly focused on SAIR ) and all further discussions
    on the new thread are the Post-ADOSH release comments and include
    BOTH the SAIR and the ADOSH information and ongoing ‘questions’.

  5. calvin says

    P14 WFAR…. At 1545, the SPGS1 met up with Field OSC. The Field OSC called
    ASM2, indicating that the winds were getting erratic and
    requested that ASM2 check on the GMIHC when they got a
    P27 SAIR ….. At approximately 1600, ASM2 overhears a comment on the radio referencing a crew and a safety zone. ASM2 calls OPS1 and clarifies, “I heard a crew in a safety zone, do we need to call a time out?” OPS1 replies, “No, they’re in a good place. They’re safe and it’s Granite Mountain.” They talk about flying over to check on the crew, but for now, they think the crew is safe in the black.
    P100 SAIR…..At approximately 1615, ASM2 heard radio traffic between Division Supervisor A (DIVS A, which included Granite Mountain Hotshots) and Operations about Granite Mountain going down their escape route to a safety zone. ASM2 asked Operations if they should check on the crew in the safety zone. After Operations stated that Granite Mountain was ”in a good place” and safe,
    P 15 AOSHA Worksheets for Proposed Citation…… At approximately 1630, Marsh spoke with ASM B33 (also identified as ASM2) and reported that they were going down their escape route to the safety zone. B33 asks if everything is ok. marsh responds that everything is ok they are just heading to the Safety Zone.
    If these accounts are all accurate, ASM2 was advised about GM position location and starting at 1545 had three other discussions with OPS1 and DIVA concerning their movements. ASM2 had one hour AFTER being asked to check on GM before the entrapment. ASM2 was aware GM was moving. ASM2 did not know the location of GM even after DIV A actually says “That is where we want the retardant.”
    There is a lot of new information to be dissected and analyzed. The discussion about BR involvement is valid. But with the latest information, it seems BR was stuck filling DIV Z position and really didn’t know what their assignment was. I am also still thinking their assignment change from the grader location to Shrine Road was secondary to Arroyo not showing up.
    It should also be noted that ASM2 (Thomas French and John Burfiend) were not allowed to be interviewed either.

    • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

      A quick note for any of those of you who may be ‘refreshing’ these comments and not re-entering the IM site, due to web issues, Investigative Media has requested this discussion be moved to the comments section attached to the article on the ADOSH report. See that request on the ‘Home’ page.

      A quick note a Calvin’s comment above, I believe it was Air Attack over the fire communicating, until they abruptly left at approximately 1600 without passing on to ASM certain important details of what they knew. Although ASM should have known the DIV A and GM location, It was OPS1 who was directly responsible for them, and who knew they had been on the move, with their location, routing, and destination unknown to him. At the time of the timeout request, those questions could have been answered.

  6. The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

    There have been a few tid-bits revealed in the ADOSH report that had up until then, never seen the ‘public’ light of day. One thing you all may have noticed, but I don’t think I have seen mentioned here yet, is that OPS1 Musser actually stated in his interview that he knew that GM was on the move during the critical time leading up to entrapment.

    ADOSH inspection narrative, page 19, 1601 hrs, just after the description of the Marsh and Steed conversation captured on video:

    “Following this conversation, GMIHC and Marsh decided to move from their position. According to BRIHC unit logs, Eric (Marsh) says, “I copy fire is progressed to the buggies, also going to make our way through out escape route”. Brian (Frisby) asks, ‘Are you in good black?” Eric says “picking our way through the black to the rd in the bottom out towards the ranch.” Brian thinks he meant toward the two-track. To confirm Brian says, “the rd we came on w/ the ranger……affirm.”


    “Musser heard the radio transmission, but didn’t recall the exact words. Abel and Musser reportedly were not aware of the location of Marsh’s reported predetermined route.

    So at the moment ASM asked for a time-out and OPS1 said GM was safe in the black, OPS1 actually knew they had been on the move, and DIDN’T know their location, routing or their destination.

    This bit of information has led me to something that has been starring me in the face for along time, but that I couldn’t see.

    This fire had two Operation Section Chiefs operating at the same time. Granted, one was SUPPOSED to be a ‘Planning Ops’ and one was supposed to be a ‘Field Ops’, but during the day they were BOTH giving direction to, and making requests of the field troops. It is obvious from the various reports, that often the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. This must have created additional confusion to field supervisors in trying to recognize who their real OPS Supervisor was.

    I’m sure that OPS was structured this way because there was yet no Planning Section Chief on the fire and they wanted to try and address that need, but PSCs don’t get on the radio and direct or make requests of the troops in the field. As might be apparent by the lack of planning evident in the reports, the planning aspect seemed to get neglected as both OPS evolved into a ‘field’ capacity.

    Perhaps if there had truly been only one OPS on the radio that day for ‘his’ subordinates to report to, the confusion level would have come down enough to have saved some lives. Just speculating………….;….

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to TTTWARE
      post December 8, 2013 at 10:02

      Good points, all!

      I also don’t think there’s any question that this is where the
      ‘missing’ Safety Officer ( who was SUPPOSED to be on
      duty at this time ) would have come into play.

      I would imagine that ANY traffic about people way out in
      the boondock saying they are now ‘moving’… when the
      fire is blowing up like a bomb… would have been something
      he would be required to be ‘all over’.

      If the Safety Officer had been on duty… I could imagine that
      confusing exchange between Marsh and Frisby would/should
      have immediately been followed with him breaking in
      the radio saying…

      “DIVS A / Granite Mountain… this is SFO1… please explain.
      Last transmit confusing. EXACTLY where are you NOW,
      EXACTLY where are you GOING… and EXACTLY HOW
      do you plan on getting there? Come back. Over.”

      I can imagine any OPSx saying “They’re big boys. They’re
      supposed to know what they are doing.”…

      …but what other job would a Safety Officer have that would
      be more important than to make sure hot, tired men aren’t
      making a ‘bad decision’ and a ‘bad move’ at a ‘bad time’?

  7. calvin says

    Any comments about the photo on page 13 Of Wildlands Fire Associates Report (WFAR?) How does this picture fit in with the rest of Mackenzie photos? Is this from Mackenzie phone or camera?

  8. Elizabeth N. says

    The OSHA report writers clearly were pointing the finger at Rory (?) Collins. Tell me why.
    If I am understanding correctly, the report writers want us to know that Collins (a) dropped retardant in a way that RUINED the backfire/burnout, (b) tried to get Marsh/Frisby(?) to change their strategies, (c) left without warning or notice or a proper air-support back-up at exactly the time GMIHC was in trouble, and (d) refused to speak with the investigators to explain himself. WHY? What does OSHA want us to infer? How can all of this possibly be Collins’s fault?

    Also, the OSHA report writers also wanted us to know that Divs Z totally walked away, too. He locked horns with Marsh to a degree, and then he left – went back to safety and did not come out to the fire again. The report writers made clear (in my view) their disgust with Divs Z leaving. What does that tell us? Are we supposed to be blaming Divs Z? (I am using the word “blame” loosely. I am not looking to blame anyone. I suppose the better parlance is “point the finger at”….)

  9. Robert the Second says


    “I think we can say for certain now that the Blue Ridge Hotshots had a lot more to do with what happened than anyone previously thought, albeit, in an indirect manner.”

    Not following here, so would you please give me some more insight where you’re going with this one?

    BR HS was already doing what OPS had asked GM HS about. BR HS was in their own Division doing their own thing, what they were assigned to do. They had their hands full with structure protection, houses burning, spot fires, propane tanks blowing up, dragging-ass citizens, Engine strike teams and Task Forces that didn’t have good accountability with their peope, and much more. BR HS Supt. was acting in a sort of quasi-Task Force Leader mode and possibly even covering for DIVS Z now that we know DIVS Z abandoned his post at 1330.

    “I could now be totally wrong. Maybe they WERE ‘asked’… said “NO”, and that led to the greatest blunder in the history of wildland firefighting as the only other group of Hotshots on the job site that day was then trying to do what they refused to do.”

    Need some clarification here too please. Are saying that the GM HS took the assignment that BR HS MAY have been given by OPS and THEY turned it down? This is something that’s done often by the Overhead. They will ask a Resource to perform an assignment. That Resource either accepts it or refuses and offers another option. If they refuse it, then the Overhead just goes to another Resource. And according to the Turn Down Proptocol, they are to inform that Resource that it’s been turned down, refused by another. So, I disagree with the “blunder’ assertion at least as it relates to the BR HS. GM HS “blunder” what they did and died because of it, yes.

    • Bob Powers says

      I believe you are right here I would also say that they may have said some things that were in the first interview that we were not privy to and these might in some way put the FS in a bad light with the State. I would assume the State did not get the interviews done by the SAIR. They could of had to do there own interviews.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      RTS: Re: Your post: December 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      >> RTS asked…
      >> Not following here, so would you please give me some
      >> more insight where you’re going with this one?

      The ADOSH contains information that SHOULD have
      been in the SAIR about additional ‘communications’
      with Marsh/Steed right around the crticial ‘discussing
      their options’ moment(s). We only now learn that OPS2
      ( Musser ) asked if they could ‘spare resources’ down
      in Yarnell to help with evacuations ( already in progress ).

      Marsh/Steed say NO. They are ‘committed to the black’
      They tell Musser to ‘ask Blue Ridge if they can help’.

      So that was their ‘Turn Down’ and ‘alternate option’.

      Ok. Fine. Whatever. We SHOULD have known about this
      a LOOOONG time ago ( Sic: SAIR report )… but here’s
      what we still do NOT know…

      1) EXACTLY what Musser asked them. Was it a SPECIFIC
      request such as ‘we need help in Glen Ilah”?… or just a
      general “we sure could use you guys down here.”

      2) Did Musser ONLY ask them to ‘come down’ because
      ( as you say ) Blue Ridge was ALREADY busy and Musser
      knew that?… or was Musser just as clueless about what
      BR was actually doing as he was about a lot of other
      things that day?

      3) Did Musser ALREADY ask Blue Ridge to do whatever it
      was he wanted GM to do BEFORE calling Marsh/Steed?
      If so… did BR turn him down and that’s the only reason
      he was now calling GM?

      4) Did Musser do what Marsh/Steed said and call BR for
      some ‘specific’ (new) assignment AFTER he got off the
      horn with Marsh/Steed? If so… what did BR say then and
      also… did Musser call Marsh/Steed back AGAIN and tell
      THEM what BR said?

      5) Is this ( now documented ) ‘Musser asking for help’ moment
      the sole reason for the mysterious ‘comfort level’ discussion
      references in the MacKenzie video… or is there even more
      about that we still don’t know?

      The ‘where I am going with this’ should be obvious.

      We know a LITTLE bit more now about what factors might
      have been involved in the Marsh/Steed ‘discussing their
      options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions… and that
      ‘little bit more’ now involves Blue Ridge in a way that
      no one had thought of before. Did Musser ask Marsh/Steed
      to ‘change their plans’ up there because of something
      Blue Ridge was refusing to do?…. or was it because they
      were already too busy and Musser knew that. If Musser
      knew that… then why didn’t the ADOSH say… “Musser
      calls Marsh/Steed to ask if they could spare resources
      for Yarnell… because the other hotshot team named
      Blue Ridge was already very busy at that time.”

      Either way… Blue Ridge is now intricately ‘involved’ ( as
      I said, indirectly ) in the mysterious decision 19 men made
      to march to their deaths.

      That’s what the ADOSH is saying, and that’s probably what
      Blue Ridge’s lawyers have also realized from a ‘litigation /
      liability’ standpoint… hence… BR was being ‘unusually
      uncooperative’ with ADOSH.

      >> RTS also wrote…
      >> So, I disagree with the “blunder’ assertion at least as it
      >> relates to the BR HS. GM HS “blunder” what they did
      >> and died because of it, yes.

      I didn’t say BR ‘blundered’.
      I only said GM did.

      I don’t know how else you would characterize 19 (supposedly)
      trained, professional firefighters breaking almost every rule
      in their ‘own book’ and walking straight into a box canyon
      full of unburned fuel and an advancing wall of flames in
      BROAD DAYLIGHT… and no one knowing where there
      were to even TRY and help them live.

      ‘One of ( if not THE ) greatest blunders in the history of
      wildland firefighting’ describes it pretty well, I think.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          One other thing… I hear what you are saying above… but I don’t think there is any direct evidence that Blue Ridge was doing any ‘civilian evacuation’ help that day. I still think Frisby was ‘heroic’ when he went BACK into the Shrine area to make sure all the FIREFIGHTERS were all getting out… but as far as the photographic evidence from that day goes… as soon as all the FIREFIGHTERS were out… that’s when the Blue Ridge guys are seen just standing around in parking lots doing nothing… even at a time when ‘evacuations’ were still takinig place.

          So somewhere in here it comes to whether the request from Musser ( to either/or BR / GM ) had to do with helping with civilian evacuations or structure protection. Blue Ridge might have said “We don’t do either of those things”… but GM has a different history. This may still all come down to the different mentality between wildland firefighters and ‘regular’ fireman. As far as I know… BR was ‘the pure drop’. They only do wildland stuff. GM… not so much… they were this new ‘hybrid’ group being run by a Municipal Fire Department.

          • Robert the Second says

            Reply to WTKTT Dec. 7 at 2:28 post,

            There may not be any “direct evidence that Blue Ridge was doing any ‘civilian evacuation’ help that day” in any ‘official record” but it is well known amongst those that were there that BR HS, and in particular the Supt and Foreman, made numerous forays into Yarnell doing their best to hustle those ‘dragging-ass civilians’ to get out of there, first in a hurry, and later “get out now.”

            So I still say that Frisby and his Crew were ‘heroic’ in Yarnell AND when they ALSO went BACK into the Shrine area to get the ‘dragging-ass’ Engine Crews, Strike Team, Task Force to get out og there after ignoring warnings from the fire behavior itself and from BR HS as the column stood up, then bent over Yarness, then came swooping down into Yarnell with a vengeance.

            So, I also agree with J. Stout that the BR HS were doing just what needed to be done; refuse the assignment. They were already do it in a sense. Regarding the ADOSH investigation finding about the State Forestry slacking in their duties, as J. Stout puts it, BR HS was “adhering to the very policies that this latest investigation states were absent on the part of state fire officials.”

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Reply to RTS
              December 7, 2013 at 4:20 post

              >> RTS said…
              >> There may not be any “direct
              >> evidence that Blue Ridge was
              >> doing any ‘civilian evacuation’
              >> help that day” in any ‘official
              >> record” but it is well known
              >> amongst those that were there

              Like who?

              >> that BR HS, and in particular
              >> the Supt and Foreman, made
              >> numerous forays into Yarnell
              >> doing their best to hustle those
              >> ‘dragging-ass civilians’ to get
              >> out of there, first in a hurry, and
              >> later “get out now.”

              There is nothing in any officially
              published timeline now ( both
              SAIR and ADOSH included )
              that supports that claim.

              The timeframe was VERY tight
              from 1555 to 1615 when BR was
              simply ‘evacuating themselves’
              from the Shrine area and then
              photographed at both the staging
              area on Hwy 89 ( The Tom Story
              photo ) and moments later down
              at the cafe’ ( Michelle Lee photos,
              Russ Reason video, etc. ).

              The SAIR itself documents ONE
              ‘extra’ trip where BR Supt ( and
              BR Capt? ) went back to make
              sure ALL ‘firefighters’ were getting
              out… but no mention of any specific
              civilian evacuation involvement.

              Sure… they may have been
              ‘shouting out the windows’ at
              people… but that’s all that any
              of the documented timelines
              would have allowed them to do.

              Regardless… if they WERE doing
              that sort of thing… and it was
              NOT ‘officially their job’ at that
              point… the question remains.

              Was it NOT their ‘official’ job to
              be helping with that because no
              one even asked them to… or
              because they HAD been asked,
              had already turned Musser down,
              and that’s why he was calling out
              to Marsh/Steed for some help?

              Important question(s) now, after
              the ADOSH report.

              • Robert the Second says


                There were BR HS and other local Prescott area municipal and wildland firefighters, including photos and video clips.

                And they were doing much more than merely ‘shouting out windows.’ They were engaged in doing what needed to be done at those times to get these peoples’ attention and get them moving.

                They were doing all this because that’s what these guys do. They see what neeeds to be done and they just do it. Mostly because they’re Hot Shots (and/or former HS).

                And as far as them ‘hanging out’ at the restauaunt or store or wherever is a moot point. So what? What were they supposed to be doing ?? besides finding somewhere safe to be at that point.

                • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                  Repy to RTS post
                  Dec 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

                  >> RTS wrote…
                  >> What were they
                  >> supposed to be
                  >> doing ??

                  I don’t know… but
                  we’ve got 19 dead
                  guys who (apparently)
                  thought SOMETHING
                  was important to be
                  done right around the
                  time they are standing
                  there doing nothing.

                  Can you not see the

                  One team of Hotshots
                  already in a place
                  where it’s all hitting
                  the fan… and they
                  are doing NOTHING
                  at the same time
                  another group of
                  Hotshots think they
                  are ‘needed’ in the
                  same exact location.

                  If it was no longer
                  important for Hotshots
                  to be doing ANYTHING,
                  then why didn’t
                  someone ‘call off GM’
                  and they would still
                  be with us today?

                  Something still makes
                  absolutely no sense
                  at all here.

                  besides finding somewhere safe to be at that point.

                  • Robert the Second says

                    Reply to WTKTT 12/7 7:47 post:

                    “Can you not see the connection?”

                    I cannot see the connection.

                    “And they are doing NOTHING
                    at the same time
                    another group of
                    Hotshots think they are ‘needed’ in the same exact location.”
                    And the GM HS was where they were doing what they were doing BECAUSE THEY CHOSE TO GO DOWN THERE INTO THE UNBURNED AND THE DEATH BOWL AGAINST ALL THEIR TRAINING!

                    “If it was no longer important for Hotshots to be doing ANYTHING,
                    then why didn’t
                    someone ‘call off GM’”

                    Don’t know. Marsh was being disengenuous about the whole matter and nobody really knew where they were or what they were doing other than they were ‘safe in the black.’ It’s up to the FF on the ground, at the time to be responsible for their safety.

            • mike says

              One problem is that the ADOSH report is not a substitute for a decent SAIR. ADOSH was only concerned with determining if there was an unsafe “workplace”, not really with finding out all that went on. Details of the Musser request were not important to ADOSH, but may well be vital to understanding the motivation of the GMHS. So the specifics of the request, whether Musser heard back from Marsh, what motivated the request etc were not important to ADOSH, but should have been critical to the SAIR. Unfortunately the SAIT either did not know about it (did they interview Musser? did he tell ADOSH but not the SAIT?) or they buried it. If the latter, it is absolutely appalling.

            • J. Stout says

              Reply to RtS re Blue Ridge HS:

              Would like to add the following in regards to the last paragraph of my previous post (concerning the actions of the Federal attorneys, and what is business as usual for them).

              There is absolutely nothing surprising about one employer of FF’s being reluctant (or refusing) to provide ammunition (in the form of testimony and evidence) to be used against another employer of FF’s. ADOSH knows this game. By putting their criticism of this reluctance/refusal in their report, they were simply — and very publicly — making the feds and their attorneys pay a price for it.

              Whether that was a good thing, or not, is something I am unable to say at this point. But what I am currently seeing in this forum for discussion is just how much it is the Blue Ridge HS who are now being made to pay a price. And that is unfortunate.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                If Blue Ridge is going to end
                up ‘paying a price’ for being
                ‘uncooperative’ with ADOSH,
                then that is a path THEY have
                decided to walk.

                They ( collectively ) could have
                told the lawyers to go pound
                sand and just been fully
                cooperative. They didn’t.

                What comes next… comes

                • Robert the Second says


                  BR HS is NOT being uncooperative. They’ve been directed to do so by their Agency.

                  See: Gary Olson on December 5, 2013 at 10:48 pm said:
                  “FYI – The Office of the Solicitor General has to approve an employee testifying or being interviewed in civil case. All departments have a Solicitor General such as USDA Solicitor General, USDI Solicitor General etc. It is very, very, very hard, if not impossible to challenge or fight the federal government in court. It is standard operating procedure and it is an automatic defensive action, so don’t read too much into that particular aspect, just like any attorney advises their client not to talk to the other side. It is not about right and wrong even with our own government, it is about protecting your clients and doing what is best for THEM not what the general public thinks is RIGHT.”

                  • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                    RTS… I’m not going to push this line of consideration with you. I have too much respect for YOUR contributions to this effort here to find out what really happened that day and YOUR willingness to talk about in public (lawyers be damned). I also understand that you know these guys so you have a ‘dog in the hunt’ here. I don’t. I just want to know what REALLY happened.

                    • Gary Olson says

                      One thing I should have added that is any employee ignores that kind of order of their agency, there is no doubt they would be fired immediately. You might be asking some young men to pay a very, very, heavy price price for everyone’s else’s, screw up, lies, and deceit. Good luck getting another job in any similar field after being FIRED by the USFS. See my previous comment, They ARE THE 800 POUND GORRILLA IN THE NATION!

      • Gary Olson says

        The history of wildland firefighting agrees with you, this was without a doubt, THE greatest error in history of wildland firefighting…and I don’t think that there is any possible combination of anything, anybody could or can say for any reason that will ever in any way implicate the Blue Ridge Hotshots in doing anything wrong by any interpretation that anybody could even possibly make up or think up…unless they held guns to the heads of the Granite Mountain Hotshots and forced them down that chute. So…if their attorneys are worried, I think they can stand down, in my opinion.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to Gary Olson
          Re: December 7, 2013 at 6:21 post

          Exactly, Gary. That what seems inexplicable here.
          NO ONE ( not even me ) is ACCUSING Blue Ridge
          of having done anything wrong… but like it or not…
          ADOSH has confirmed they might simply be
          involved in the decision making process that
          took place up on that high ridge more than anyone
          previously suspected.

          ADOSH now says Marsh/Steed basically issued
          an official ‘Turn down with alternate option’… and
          that ‘alternate option’ was Blue Ridge.

          So what happened then?

          Was there another ‘Turn down with alternate’
          on Blue Ridge’s part? Like “No thanks… we
          aren’t trained to do structure protection… why
          don’t you call Granite Mountain?”

          If they were a ‘pure drop’ IHC crew… with no
          background in structure protection… than that
          is EXACTLY what they SHOULD have told
          Musser if he asked them to get involved.

          There is nothing WRONG with that.

          So it’s inexplicable why Blue Ridge is all
          ‘lawyered up’, refusing to cooperate with
          ADOSH and supplying nothing but 80 percent
          ‘redacted’ documents and claiming the
          ‘sensitive information’ excuse.

          It simply puts them back in the ‘what are you
          trying to hide?’ category. That’s just sad.

          • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

            WTKTT, I think almost eveyone in this forum including yourself had agreed in prior comments that the BR Sup deserves a medal for his actions that day, and any turn-down or lack thereof, doesn’t negate that. A turn-down by one crew does not have any bearing on the safe performance of another crew. That other crew is totally responsible for their own safety.

            I know you agree with that, but your recent comments seem to have alluded to some ‘potential’ cupability in GMs decision because of what BR did or did not do.

            When crews and personel were being pulled off the fire for safety, staging at the cafe was a proper action.

            Other’s on here with prior HS experience can relate whether or not they were trained in evacuation procedures and it that was something that was expected of them.

            Bottom line, BR was at the cafe keeping their crew safe, which is the one thing I know we all wish everyone had done that day.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Reply to TTWARE
              December 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm post.

              I just checked all my typing up above
              and it is, in fact, in English… so I’ve
              got nothing else to add at this point.

              No one is ‘getting it’… and all I am
              hearing is that ‘SLAMMING’ noise
              of minds closing… so I’m going
              to let this one ride for now.

              I’ll come back it later, though,
              because I may have just found
              something that will make the
              closed doors open again.

              Hint: Read the WHOLE ADOSH.

  10. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Gary Olson: Re: Your long post yesterday.

    Great stuff, Gary. Thanks for taking that time to help us all understand
    an entire ‘world/culture’ that some of us are only now learning about, or
    even knew existed.

    I think the ADOSH presentation ( narrative and photos ), while certainly
    not without its own flaws, new inconsistencies, and not being everything
    that was desired… has also provided some ‘new’ important information.

    We might actually be close to understanding what really happened,
    or, at least, a lot closer to knowing WHO DOES.

    I think we can say for certain now that the Blue Ridge Hotshots had
    a lot more to do with what happened than anyone previously thought,
    albeit, in an indirect manner.

    Why on earth would Musser ask Marsh for help unless he had
    ALREADY asked Frisby and he had already said “No… we don’t
    do that sort of thing.”?

    ADOSH expresses specific frustration at the ‘useless’ information
    provided by Blue Ridge and also about how they were allowed to
    interview certain command level people… but NOT ask certain

    ADOSH says that most of what was ‘redacted’ in the only documents
    Blue Ridge did supply was all struck out because it was (quote)
    “information of a sensitive nature’.

    WTF? What would constitute that kind of ‘sensitive information’ in
    simple job logs? Did someone write down in the logs that they
    were having an affair with someone else’s wife, or something?

    What would be your guess on what would be so ‘sensitive’ in
    some fire job logs that it would all need to be ‘redacted’?

    Actual evidence of wrongdoing or negligence, or something?

    The reason we don’t really know if Musser even asked Blue Ridge if
    they could help out either BEFORE or AFTER Musser put the
    question to Marsh/Steed might be because ADOSH was allowed
    to interview Musser… but Musser was RESTRICTED from saying
    anything or answering any questions that had anything to do
    with Blue Ridge. The lawyers might have locked all that down.

    So all we hear from Musser and his ADOSH interview is what the
    lawyers WILL let him talk about… and that is what he may or
    may not have said to GM, and what they may have said in return.

    But as for whether he (Musser) even ASKED Blue Ridge to help?

    Their lawyers might be forbidding that line of ‘questioning’.

    I have been the one who has always wondered why we have all this
    photographic / video evidence of the Blue Ridge Hotshots standing
    around doing nothing at all at a time when everyone was wondering
    why ANOTHER Hotshot crew might be trying to get there to help.

    I was the one who was always adding the phrase “because no one
    asked them to.” That was always just a ‘guess’ on my part.

    I could now be totally wrong. Maybe they WERE ‘asked’… said “NO”,
    and that led to the greatest blunder in the history of wildland firefighting
    as the only other group of Hotshots on the job site that day was then
    trying to do what they refused to do.

    There are still people alive who know this part of the story.

    We shall see what else we can learn.

    • J. Stout says

      WTKTT: Regarding some of your comments about Blue Ridge HS.

      Am having a bit of difficulty with your portrayal of BR concerning speculation that “maybe they WERE ‘asked’ … said “NO” and that led to the greatest blunder in the history of wildland firefighting as the only other group of Hotshots on the job site that day was then trying to do what they refused to do.”

      Has it been so promptly forgotten here that a fine of nearly $560,000 has been imposed due in large part because state fire officials knowingly put protection of property ahead of safety?

      So . . . in the event that BR “might” have been asked and “might” have said no . . . they would have actually been, in that case, adhering to the very policies that this latest investigation states were absent on the part of state fire officials. And for which a fine was imposed as a result of it.

      So, good on BR for saying no — if that’s what actually happened. (Emphasis on the word “if” here.)

      Attempting to link BR into some kind of chain-of-blame for the decision made on the part of GM and DIVS A to leave the black is just plain wrong.

      (And, what seems to be overlooked lately is how the request on the part of Musser (according to ADOSH) was whether GM could “spare resources.” That does not sound like Musser was asking for an entire HS crew plus a Division Supervisor.)

      Lastly, there may be any number of people here who wish to jump on the band wagon to paint a portrait of suspicion and/or question of liability regarding BR for what the Federal attorneys have been doing (aka business as usual in these kinds of matters) — but you can count me out on that one, too.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to J. Stout
        Re: December 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm post

        I think I responded to this down below under RTS’s
        similar ‘reaction’.

        Maybe I am going to lose you here… but there is a
        distinct difference between ‘blame’ and ‘causation’.

        We are NOT trying to discover WHY one group of
        Hotshots might have been totally within ‘protocols’
        and ‘procedures’ that day.

        We are trying to discover WHY another group of
        Hotshots was (obviously) NOT.

        What ADOSH has just told us, however, is that there
        might be a ‘causation’ factor here between the two.

        I don’t know how else to phrase that.

        You either understand what I am talking about there,
        or you don’t.

        ADOSH has told us there is another ‘story’ here that
        has to be told… and the ones who can tell it the best
        ( who are, thankfully, all still very much alive ) have
        chose to be totally ‘uncooperative’. Bad choice, I think.

  11. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    TTWARE: Re: Some of your recent commentary ‘missing’

    >> TTWARE wrote…
    >> Somehow, some of my new commentary didn’t come through
    >> when I copied and pasted the older commentary. After the
    >> sentence ending ‘the fire going absolutely apeshit’, I had typed
    >> in sentences that said, “As far as the second elephant in the room
    >> goes, I am with WTKTT on that, in that I don’t think they knew of any
    >> other route to get to the ranch.”

    I see what the ‘problem’ was there.
    It has to do with using a ‘LESS THAN’ bracket.
    With this forum software… it is AOK to use a ‘GREATER THAN’ bracket
    but you should NEVER type a ‘LESS THAN’ bracket into one of your
    posts… or you might lose a number of sentences or paragraphs after that.

    Why?… because this software is doing what is called PARSING when
    you hit ‘Post Comment’… and it is looking for certain HTML statements.

    HTML statements embedded in text BEGIN with ‘LESS THAN’ symbols
    and CLOSE with ‘GREATER THAN’ symbols.

    So what happens there is that if the text parser sees a ‘LESS THAN’
    symbol appearing the text… it thinks that’s the beginning of you
    trying to embed HTML into your text and it tries to ‘interpret’ the
    commands/words that follow it… instead of just printing them.

    That’s why you can ‘lose some sentences’ following the ‘LESS THAN’
    symbol. They aren’t really valid HTML commands so they get ‘tossed out’
    until the parser reaches a certain line length limit… and then it starts
    printing the text again.

    You can freely use the ‘GREATER THAN’ symbol because that is the
    CLOSING signal for an embedded HTML command and if there was
    no ‘LESS THAN’ symbol preceding it… that ‘CLOSING’ signal just
    gets ignored and it prints the ‘GREATER THAN’ symbol just as you
    typed it with no ‘loss of commentary’.

    More than you wanted to know, I’m sure… but bottom line is…

    If you ‘cut and paste’ stuff into your post…. do NOT add any ‘LESS THAN’
    bracket characters anywhere in the text or you will LOST some of it after
    you click ‘Post Comment’.

    • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

      WTKTT, thanks for the info. I’ve been trying different ways to cut and paste and so far, it seems I’ve gone bust on all of them, but I’ll keep trying. Again, thanks.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to TTWARE
        December 7, 2013 at 7:40 PM post

        Well… things seem to be showing up in the right places
        again today. ( This should. I’ve been responding to others
        below regarding the new role ADOSH says Blue Ridge
        might play in the ‘the story’ here, and everything was
        appearing there just fine. )

        One other thing I noticed… if something you post
        doesn’t ‘show up’ in the right place… you might want
        to ‘clear your browser cache’ ( especially cookies ).

        This forum is using ‘cookies’ to try and ‘remember’
        which message you were on last time you visited
        and it might get confused if you have been here a
        lot without clearing your cache. That seemed to
        help with me, anyway.

  12. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> P24 of SAIR
    >> Marsh states that he believes the fire is almost as far as the GM vehicles.
    >> Lets compare this with the audio from Mackenzie video.
    >> Steed says The fire is almost as far as the two track we walked in on.
    >> According to the fire progression map, these two statements were
    >> made at different times.
    >> Steed’s statement, identified to occur shortly after 1600, describes
    >> what the fire progression map shows. The fire is almost at the
    >> two track, near the grader.
    >> The statement made by Marsh, identifying the fire “almost at the
    >> GM vehicles”, must have occurred a few minutes later (according
    >> to the fire progression map.)
    >> The fire arrived at the GM vehicle parking area at approximately 1622.

    calvin… have you seen the PHOTOGRAPHS that were released
    along with the ADOSH report?

    There are TWO photographs in there we have never seen before and
    didn’t even know existed.

    They are ADOSH photos number 27 and 28.

    They were taken by Brendan McDonough HIMSELF right there where
    the GM vehicles were parked just AFTER he got ‘dropped off’ there
    by Brian Frisby ( BR Supt ).

    Brendan stood on the gunwale of the passenger side of the GM
    Supervisor truck to elevate himself a little and took those two
    pictures facing directly north, looking at the approaching fireline.

    The TIME on BOTH of the pictures McDonough took is exactly 1549.
    We are going to have to trust ADOSH on that… but I get the feeling
    the ADOSH guys actually DO know about JPEG EXIF metadata
    and that’s where they got the timestamps for these photos.

    John Dougherty has ‘safe’ copies of these ADOSH photos here…


    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Marsh obviously made the statement BEFORE the GM vehicles
    >> were moved. Time unknown. According to the fire progression chart,
    >> the fire made a huge push toward the vehicles starting at 1615.

    See the ADOSH photos above taken at 1549.

    Looks to me like the fire was ‘almost there’ even at 1549.

    >> calvin also wrote
    >> This would put the time BR moves the 2 GM buggies closer to 1615.
    >> This would also support WTKTT times of when Marsh actually lost
    >> view of the middle bowl, GM parking area.

    Again… hard to say now that we have the 2 new ADOSH photos.

    I would now say that if the GM vehicles had still been where they were
    as late as 1615 then the tires would have been fully melted by then
    and they would be quite a shade darker than white at that point.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup: This ‘when did things really happen’ merry-go-round
      actually just got much worse because of this ADOSH thing.

      See my post above.

      They have published their OWN ‘photographic evidence’ that
      no one knew about and they are supplying their OWN
      timestamps that we have to trust they made every effort
      to verify as accurate…

      …but welcome to the ‘SAIR syndrome’ again.

      ADOSH’s own ‘photographic evidence’ does NOT MATCH
      their own damn ‘narrative’… just like the SAIR fiasco.

      They are absolutely saying that Brendan McDonough took
      their ‘evidence’ pictures 27 and 28 from the spot where he
      just got dropped off by Brian Frisby at exactly 1549.


      The ADOSH narrative also unequivocally states now that
      Brendan McDonough abandoned his lookout post at 1550.

      There goes Einstein out the window again.

      1550 is one minute AFTER they also say he had somehow
      already gotten ‘dropped off’ at the GM vehicles and took
      the two pictures they are publishing.

      No frickin’ way.

      It was even at least a 4-5 ride on an ATV from the ‘old-grader’
      spot where Frisby even picked Brendan up before you would
      arrive back at where the GM vehicles were parked.

      The SAIR says Brendan left his lookout post at 1555
      The ADOSH says he did that at 1550
      The ADOSH also says Brendan took 2 pics back where
      the GM vehicles were parked at 1549.

      Fer cryin’ out loud.

  13. The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

    Two things that have been discussed quite a bit on this forum, have been for the most part, confirmed by the release of the AZ OSHA report. They are (1), some of the management and tactics used over the course of the incident, turned it into a giant [email protected]#$%, and (2), the subsequent SAIR was a whitewash.

    I would have bet a bunch of money (and lost), that the AZ OSHA would not be critical of another state agency. In fact, I thought their report would be a worse product than the SAIR.

    As things slowly begin to come full circle, the two questions that have always been the two BIG elephants in the room were, why did they leave the black, and why did they step off the two-track and head down into that bowl.

    As to why they left the black, the answer to that question is starting to become a little clearer now, as we have only just recently learned that OPS1 ‘asked’ GM if they were able move to Yarnell to help (a detail that was convieniently left out of the SAIR). I would like to revisit a couple of comments I made quite a while back as to what may have impacted their thought processes at that time:

    >Let me throw this out there for the sake of discussion. Without BR Supt being in a location that allowed him to take immediate action, GM would have probably have lost their vehicles and equipment, probably somewhere to the tune of $100,000-$200,000. Not a good thing for a group that prides themselves with good decision-making skills. Knowing this, it must have rocked their world in a bad way.Was knowing that they’d already left their vehicles in a bad spot and being unable to rescue them themselves, and having their world rocked by that thought, and then facing the possiblity of sitting in the black, out of the fight most of the night while all the rest of the folks on the fire worked at saving Yarnell too much to stomach? Even if they already knew their vehicles had been rescued. sitting around the black stewing about that earlier decision probably wasn’t very appealing, at a time when the fire was going absolutely ape-shit.A very interesting theory, and very plausible I might add.If they didn’t actually know where the road went, there would have been no decision made regarding WHICH way they wanted to proceed to the ranch, because at that point at the top of the bowl, they would have only been able to visualize and consider one route, BUSHWACKING.Again, your theory provides an answer the the question of why they would have chosen an absolutely horrible route over one that was 1000 times safer. The answer: they didn’t! They chose the only one they could visualize.
    Left with only that one option, their only considerations in completing their assigned travel would be, where’s the fire at, what’s it doing and what do we expect it to do, what’s the wind doing and what do we expect it to do, and do we have plenty of time to get through that vegetation to the ranch. When they stepped off the road, all those considerations seemed to be in their favor.<

    I honestly believe things looked good to them when they headed down, and in no way, shape or form, did they believe it was a 'race' to get there.

    Even if these two scenarios turned out to be what actually occured, the search for the truth must continue, through cell phone records, further interviews with those who 'know' the facts, and any other means possible. We owe that search for the truth to the 19 and all other firefighters, current and future.

    • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

      Somehow, some of my new commentary didn’t come through when I copied and pasted the older commentary. After the sentence ending ‘the fire going absolutely apeshit’, I had typed in sentences that said, “As far as the second elephant in the room goes, I am with WTKTT on that, in that I don’t think they knew of any other route to get to the ranch.” And then, I reflected back to my prior commentary on his theory, starting with “A very interesting theory….”

      Hopefully, one of these days I’ll have the copy and paste thing down so as to not screw up my postings.

    • Gary Olson says

      FYI – I agree with the plausibility of everything you said…but I think you are way off on how much they stood to lose in equipment, I would guess it would be well north of $200,000, maybe more like $400,000, although there are lots of people out there who know that figure a lot better than I do.

      The status and “loss of pride” would have been incalculable, especially for a hotshot crew other crews refused to accept or respect.

      • Gary Olson says

        I think it would be worth everyone’s time to either read or re-read THE COLLAPSE OF DECISIONMAKING AND ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE ON STORM KING MOUNTAIN byTed Putnam, Ph.D. USDA Forest Service
        Missoula Technology and Development Center February 1995, which states in part,

        “Studies also show that our linear thinking tends to underestimate hazards, particularly if the hazard is increasing at a logarithmic or exponential rate as can happen on the fireline. An example would be estimating rates of fire spread. A computer would give the better decision in a heartbeat. People would tend to underestimate the rate of spread and have difficulty deciding on an appropriate course of action. And so it is important to understand the limits of how we process information and common types of errors that can occur.”

        • Yavapai Co. Residents says

          Good information, Gary.

          You, Gary, might appreciate the following since you live in Flag now and know our area well.

          The 30th of June, the monsoon storm that hit Prescott was more “freaky” than usual in terms of the lightning, wind, and rain.

          We saw the t-heads north of us an hour before it hit, but when it did, it shook up even “hardened” AZ monsoon storm people; the storm was (pardon the trite phrase) “fast and furious”.

          You know this area…you know P Hill/Mountain across Hwy 69 from the Yavapai-Prescott resort and above Frontier Village? There were multiple lightning bolts my family watched that struck our ridges starting from Glassford Hill, all across the Yavapai Hills HOA ridges, continuing across … and a bolt hit P Mt. and set it on fire. The Prescott NF crews were dispatched to it, but mother nature put it out by dumping torrential rains on it. Two PNF crew members spent the night by the burn area (a resident confirmed this to me) just in case, while the others left in their buggies.

          Saying all this due to the first sentence in the Putnam quote:

          “Studies also show that our linear thinking tends to underestimate hazards, particularly if the hazard is increasing at a logarithmic or exponential rate as can happen on the fireline. An example would be estimating rates of fire spread.”

          If we want to call that t-storm that hit our area a “hazard”, we could. But it did increase at a rapid rate. We all know what summer t-storms are like in the SW, wicked, but this one was particularly quick, fierce, and wicked.

          For Gary: (I recommend turning off the audio; the resident is pretty freaked out. With the audio off one can watch the flames grow with fewer distractions.) His hands are shaking and his camera isn’t held still, but one can still see that the flames grew very quickly due to the winds. The approximate time is around 3:30 pm-ish.


          In summary, thanks for the Putnam quote. Very appropriate for June 30th’s weather IMHO due to what our family watched and experienced that afternoon. (Widespread power outages in downtown Prescott, trees blown down…etc.)

        • Elizabeth N. says

          The key follow-up point regarding groupthink and Putnam’s work is this: The ONLY way to avoid tragedies of groupthink (e.g. a leader leading his group into the path of an oncoming train that everyone can see) is to INSIST on a workplace that DEMANDS second-guessing. The workplace culture must DEMAND second-guessing. It must be viewed as part of your JOB as a good wildfire fighter to SECOND-GUESS your boss. Your boss himself must PRAISE you publicly when you SECOND-GUESS him on matters of safety. That is the ONLY way to get around groupthink. The *only* way.
          (… says the woman who was trained as a lawyer, who cut her teeth doing behavioral research, and who has participated or reviewed as an expert far too many crappy, whitewashed “internal investigations”)

  14. Gary Olson says

    OK…here is my best shot of cleaning up and clarifying at least some of what I have said in some of my previous statements and comments since this process first began. The process of trying to figure out why 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots, almost an entire hotshot crew; something that has never before in the history of wildland firefighting, died on the Yarnell Hill Fire.
    And one more attempt by me to TRY and share some insight into the wildland firefighting culture to those who are working so hard on this very difficult and intricate problem. All of this is because the Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) took a pass on their publicly stated core assignment and opted instead to protect the agencies and the managers who were responsible for this catastrophe from civil liability rather than disclose the truth which most assuredly, was their publicly unstated core assignment.
    I guess I really can’t blame them, they have invested a lot of years of their life, their energy and lots of very hard work in getting to where they are at now. And telling the truth would have definitely ended their careers and lives (and those of their families) as they know them.
    Why am I writing all of this other than to try and clean up some of my past comments? I am writing this because there are a lot of very smart people trying to figure out exactly what happened and what went horribly wrong on the Yarnell Hill Fire, and they are doing a great job of it, except they sometimes go off on tangents because they do not understand the wildland firefighting culture, and all of the nuanced differences between the sub-groups of wildland firefighters.
    That’s where somebody like me comes in, and that’s why I hope I can contribute something worthwhile to this endeavor as a result of my insider knowledge. Regardless of how dated my insider knowledge is. I just hope this won’t turn into a quasi-dissertation, but I am afraid it might, this is a complicated subject and the particulars are very nuanced.
    As I have repeatedly said, there has never been this level of interest in wildland firefighting in well…the history of wildland firefighting. So…I feel a little history lesson coming on. I don’t think all of you very smart people who are trying to figure this out, can do so without knowing more about wildland firefighting.
    Of course you have the advantage of either not even reading what I have to say or even if you do read it, you can choose not to believe any of it. I always tell people who don’t like my long answers to quit asking me any questions.
    Am I the best one to talk about this subject. No! But I am at least willing to put myself out there and try. Being willing to put yourself out there as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) is 90% of the battle. Publicly offering your take on events as an SME or as pundit, doesn’t really work if you aren’t willing to put your real name on your comments. The core ingredient to being an SME is to state who you are, what your background is, and what experience you bring to the table.
    I for one, would love to hear from others who are more qualified than I am in addressing wildland firefighting issues. Almost everyone who I worked with the last 18 years of my career would be even more shocked than wildland firefighters that I have anything to say which could possibly be even remotely relevant to wildland firefighting since that was not what my focus was, or what I was getting paid for, other than the occasional wildfire investigation.
    My only caveat is that you have to be willing to put your real name on your comments, and be willing to state your background and experiences. I don’t think any of these anonymous or fictitious cyber online names work for an SME. Putting your real name on your beliefs and throwing them into the public arena is a very hard to do as all of you who have done it know. You really open yourself up for criticism and attacks on you as a person. If you don’t believe me, just try it.
    The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the wildland firefighting culture changes about as slowly as molasses runs down a snow packed slope in the winter time anyway. Which is to say of course, the culture changes very slowly, if at all, which makes my dated insider knowledge rather topical, wouldn’t you agree? The USFS makes the U.S. military establishment look like a downright progressive organization that is willing to embrace change and try new and different things.
    I say the USFS because they are the proverbial 800 pound gorilla in the living room. Just think of the wildland firefighting community as a family of primates. And among the Great Apes, the USFS are the mountain gorillas. The BLM, NPS, BIA, USFWS, are the orangutans, the chimpanzees and the bonobos, whatever those are, but I’m sure you get the point I’m trying to make. As the USFS goes, so goes the wildland firefighting community.
    Is the USFS perfect? Nope, not even close…but they are the best at what they do, fighting wildland fires, and they always have been, hands down.
    Then there are the various state and county fire organizations, and don’t get me wrong…some of those are really, really, big and pretty damn important…CAL Fire and Orange County Fire for example. These are the “others.” The lesser apes in other words, “any of a group of primates of the family Hylobatidae, consisting of gibbons.”
    Hey…don’t get mad at me, it’s just an analogy, and I am talking to some people who are very smart and highly motivated, but ignorant in the ways of the very complicated wildland firefighting culture. And I do have a point to make here.
    And here is the point I am trying to make. Your guess is as good as mine as to where the hell the City of Prescott and the Prescott Fire Department fits into this family of primates…but it is probably somewhere on the family tree where you would find a pygmy marmoset, which thanks to the internet, I happen to know is the smallest monkey in the world.
    I’m sure you noticed that Mr. Mike Dudley, Team Deputy Lead Director, State and Private Forestry, USFS Intermountain Region/Northern Region was the big dog and main player for the Yarnell Hill Fire SAIT when they released their Serious Accident Investigative Report (SAIR).
    That was no accident, no pun intended. Mr. Dudley took most of the questions and took control of their news conference when they released the SAIR because the others on the team which included Jim Karels, deferred to him so often.
    That is not to say that Jim Karels, Team Lead State Forester, Florida Forest Service, was a shrinking violet or was not a supremely confident, take-charge, results driven type A personality, and a hard as nails, experienced wildland firefighter, kind-of-a-guy, because he definitely was, he just can’t ever be a Silverback Mountain Gorilla…he works for the Florida Forest Service.
    You probably also could not help but notice that Prescott Fire Department, Wildlands Division Chief Darrell Willis and former Prescott Fire Department Chief Dan Fraijo might as well have been deaf mutes on the panel at the news conference. Although they did make nice window dressing and gave an air of importance what with their very nice dress blue structural fireman uniforms and all their gold braid, gold chevrons showing their years of service, their shiny medals and all of the other impressive looking shit adorning their fancy dress blues.
    You also probably noticed Chief Fraijo was only there to occasionally say, “Hallelujah, can I get an amen!” And Chief Willis was only there to say, “Amen”, but I think that he got the opportunity to actually say “Amen” only once. These poor men were obviously completely clueless in even trying to explain what happened and looked more like fish-out-of water than primates from the family tree. It was very clear to me that these men should never have had wildland firefighters under their command. What did you think?
    Which is OK…I guess…I can’t even pretend to pontificate about what structural firefighters do…I just resent the fact that structural firefighters ever pretended to be wildland firefighters, even for a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, and that is the understatement of the year, they got 19 good men killed in the process.
    Wildland firefighters who had every right to grow old with all of those who loved them after living long and full lives…just like almost every other hotshot has been able to do since the USFS first created hotshot crews in southern California in the late 1940’s.
    When did I really lose it, you might ask? When I saw Chief Darrell Willis down on the Prescott High School Football field before a game soaking up the applause and cheers from a grateful community. The man should have been at home staring at the walls in a semi-catatonic state and mumbling to himself. That’s where I would have been in his place, not down on the football field smiling and waving at the crowd.
    Darrell Willis and the Prescott Fire Department had just experienced the worst loss in life in wildland firefighting since the Idaho Fires of 1910 for God’s sake! And since those were the Dark Ages of wildland firefighting when the local USFS Forest Ranger used to empty out the bars and recruit all of the local farmers with their shovels and loggers with their axes to go fight the forest fire, the Idaho Fires of 1910 don’t really count, or should at least have an asterisk beside them.
    Which makes this incident the worst disaster in the entire history of wildland firefighting as far as I’m concerned. It was way too early to roll in it. I don’t really think they even understood what had just happened or had a handle on the enormity of the situation. I hope they do now.
    Do I have a problem with structural firemen? Yes…I have learned to have one. Which of course begs the question, who am I going to call if my house catches on fire or I have a heart attack while walking my little dog? Therefore, I do want to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every structural fireman for your service to your communities.
    Just like Vice-President Joe Biden said, “There’s an old saying: All men are created equal, and then a few became firefighters,” Biden said. “Thank God for you all.” Vice President Biden went on to say, “I don’t have the privilege of knowing any of these heroes personally, but I know them. I know them because they saved the lives of my two sons,” Biden told the crowd. He also said firefighters rushed him to a hospital after he suffered an aneurysm in 1998. And he credited firefighters with saving his wife Jill after lightning once struck their home.
    I don’t think Vice President Biden even knew he was speaking at a memorial service for WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS, but I can’t blame him, with all of the funny round hats, bagpipes, kilts and big red fire trucks, I wouldn’t have known it either if I hadn’t been one for 15 years.
    The only thing missing from that memorial service was a pack of black and white spotted Dalmatians, but they might have been there, it was hard to tell with all of the pomp, pageantry and ceremony galore. Although don’t get me wrong, I cried along with almost everyone else when the bagpipes belted out “Amazing Grace”, it was all so very damn impressive.
    If I sound bitter, it’s because I am, I think everyone who spoke at the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial Service should have had to sign a written pledge they at least knew what a wildland firefighter was, much less a hotshot. What a gaggle of IGNORANT structural FIREMEN and politicians.
    Do you know what kind of recognition or memorials were held when 9 Prineville Hotshots, an entire squad, from a FEDERAL hotshot crew were killed on the South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain in 1994. Nothing. Or least nothing outside of their own very small community of Prineville, Oregon, I suppose. At least nothing I was aware of…and I follow these kind of events, VERY CLOSELY.
    I’m pretty sure there was exactly ZERO raised for the families of those hotshots. I think the only thing those families got was a form letter along with a one-time death disbursement check from the federal Office of Personnel Management. And nobody complained that I am aware of, that’s all that has ever been done for dead federal wildland firefighters for decades. Even if I am bitter, maybe it’s something you should at least be aware of, even if you don’t think any more about it or really even care.
    I retired in 2006 as a Supervisory Criminal Investigator (Sr. Special Agent, GS-1811) while working in Phoenix, Arizona, for the BLM Washington Office of Law Enforcement & Security. I now have a very full and busy retirement life. I build and maintain a road trip travel website and an off-road Jeeping web site. Don’t ask me how I made the transition form a GS-464-Forestry Technician, to a GS-1811-Criminal Investigator, it’s a long and convoluted story.
    And since I collect or make almost all of my own digital material (videos, photographs, maps) to fuel these web sites, I stay very busy going Jeeping, taking road trips and editing the book I have written about my experiences as a wildland firefighter and my role in the Battlement Creek Fire Disaster. I, along with my partner and fellow crew sawyer, ignited the backfire that killed the Mormon Lake Hotshots. That is part of who I am, and what motivates me on this subject.
    Part of my job as a criminal investigator was to conduct internal investigations, which is just one more reason why I have such skepticism, distrust and dislike of most managers in general. Special managers are collectively known as “Fire Gods” in the colloquial vernacular of wildland firefighters.
    Based on my 18 years of experience as a GS-1811-Criminal Investigator, whenever there was an internal problem and often even an external problem, all I had to do was look under the nearest rock and odds were pretty good that I would find the manager who created the problem hiding there from the sunlight.
    My book may never be published, but that fact doesn’t matter, I wrote the damn thing, that’s all that matters to me. And at the risk of being accused of blatant, unethical, and selfish personal promotion, you can download a free copy of the first chapter of my book, “Betrayed By Our Fire Gods” for free at http://www.ourfiregods.com.
    Spoiler Alert…the first chapter of my book pretty much tells the whole Battlement Creek Fire Disaster story…everything else is mostly filler and blah…blah…blah, I went to this fire and then I went to that fire.
    The advantage for you in downloading it and reading it is that when you are done you will know a lot more about wildland firefighting and the wildland firefighting culture without me retyping all of it in this format.
    The advantage for me if you download the free chapter is that I will get your email address so I can send you a notification IF I ever get my book published, which as I said, is a long shot at this point in time, since I don’t want to self-publish it and I am not willing to pay someone to do it for me.
    Those activities, in addition to all of the naps I take keep me busier than I want to be, because I definitely need more nap time. I don’t need this controversy to have something to do, but I feel emotionally connected to wildland firefighters and hotshot crews in particular, since those were the best years of my career, which can tell you how much being a Special Agent for the BLM sucked, except for the money I made and the perks I got, which pretty much makes me a whore.
    Which by the way, I am perfectly fine with…just as long as Uncle Sugar sends me my 30 pieces of silver on the first of every month. And I have nothing to complain about, they rode me hard and put me away wet more than a few times, but in the end they did put me out to pasture with the promised feed bag, which makes me luckier than most. Although I have noticed that the harder I fish, the luckier I get.
    No…I am not comparing working for the BLM to betraying Jesus Christ. But, I did betray myself, my core values and beliefs more than a few times. How else do you think I got to be an insider? I had a seat at the table where those kinds of decisions were made. It’s very simple really. There is no black and white, there are only shades of grey, that is what the SAIT and SAIR are really saying.
    There is no such thing as the absolute truth, the truth is only SITUATIONAL. Once you accept that premise, everything else falls into place, and it all becomes inescapably obvious. No one did anything wrong, everything everyone did was reasonable. End of story.
    Why am I telling you this…who cares? It’s very simple, MOTIVATION goes to establishing everyone’s credibility on any given subject or controversy. Whenever anyone (which is actually everyone, as you know, that’s what people do, what we do DEFINES us, it is WHO WE ARE) asks me what I do, and I will say that I am a retired wildland firefighter. Special Agents and Wildland Firefighters are in the same retirement system, which is called “Public Safety.”
    FYI…I’m sorry for the CAPs, but as anyone knows who has contributed to this discussion in writing, that is the only emphasis the program allows for, so no underlining, or bold font to EMPHASZE A POINT.
    You don’t have to be a current or former wildland firefighter (but if helps) to be interested or participate in this on-line discussion (my first) WTKTT proves that point. By the way, “Wants To Know The Truth”, you are without a doubt, the SMARTEST GUY IN THE ROOM.
    And you are in fact, the leader of our GROUP. Congratulations! Yes, we have a group, your recent taking someone to task for using the WE was uncalled for. Just like when you took someone to task for saying Branden instead of Brendan (or whichever it was, who cares?).
    We all knew who he was talking about. You are like the computer geek who everybody needs…but everybody wants to smack up beside their head sometimes because they know they are smarter than everyone else and sometimes they enjoy making others feel dumb. BUT…you ARE the smartest guy in the room, we need you…thank you for taking the time out of whatever busy schedule you have, doing whatever the hell it is that you do for a day job to lead this discussion and analyze so much stuff that it makes my head hurt just trying to follow it.
    Although I do strongly agree with the others that you should lay off the “wannabe hero’s” and references to suicidal actions, BUT…I write that off to your ignorance of the wildland firefighting culture, which is why I’m here, and you have expressed a willingness to learn about it, which is more than most can say. I am also thankful for all of the others who have more recent fire line experience than I do who are contributing here and everyone else who are giving so much of their time to this effort.
    Therefore, I am formerly announcing the creation of the informal Yarnell Hill Fire Alternative Serious Accident Investigation Team (ASAIT) and I am appointing all of you (you know who you are) who have been contributing to the furtherance of this discussion as members in good standing of the ASAIT. Furthermore, I am officially appointing, by the Power Vested In Me By The Internet, Wants To Know The Truth as the ASAIT Team Lead.
    Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed and the rest of the Granite Mountain Hotshots are certified heroes, and that was true even before they died on the Yarnell Hill Fire. Dying on the Yarnell Hill Fire didn’t make them true American Heroes…everything they did as men, husbands, sons, brothers, fathers and wildland firefighters made them heroes before June 30, 2013. But…they did die on the Yarnell Hill Fire and we owe it to their families and each other to try and figure out…WHY!
    So…if I am so busy and happy in retirement…why am I participating in this discussion, you might ask? What is my motivation? Why do I care someone may still ask? You did not know any of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. None of your loved ones died horrible deaths on the Yarnell Hill Fire. Is it because I am now irrelevant and I need this to roll in my GLORY DAYS as a former wildland firefighter and my need to feel relevant and important again as at least one critic has suggested. YES…most definitely!
    I’m just kidding…I hope. I hope I’m trying to contribute here because I care about wildland firefighter safety and I identify with the Granite Mountain Hotshots because of my lifelong connection to Prescott, Arizona. Truthfully though, it might be in part because I still have some PTSD from the Battement Creek Fire of 1976.
    We didn’t know anything about PTSD back then, not even the term, and if the USFS did, they didn’t tell us, or give a **** about wasting time or money on bullshit, like talking about how you are feeling for Christ’s sake, what is wrong with you for cryin’ out loud, saddle up, we are going to give you the opportunity to hit the fire line again. We like it, we love it, we want more of it.
    Speaking of PTSD, I haven’t heard anything for a long time about the Arizona DPS EMT who jumped out of that helicopter and ran up that box canyon through the heat and smoke hoping to save at least some firefighters. My God. I can’t even imagine the horror you came face to face with.
    You ran up there praying to find seriously injured but live firefighters. You heard the voices coming from the radios underneath the fire shelters. You believed you might have actually found life for a few moments, and then the shock and horror of the reality must have hit you like a ton of bricks. You faced all of that horror alone. How were you able to continue to function? How are you doing now? I never could have done what you did. Thank you for your service.
    Things WERE done differently back in the good ole days. We were mopping up the fire next to the bright plastic flagging that was fluttering in the breeze that marked were the burned bodies of our dead friends and comrades had laid on the charred and blackened slope of Battlement Mesa only the day before. Grief counseling? No. I never even heard of grief counseling until after the South Canyon Fire Disaster, which I guess makes the 1990’s the Age of Enlightenment in wildland firefighting.
    We covered our grief and hid our pain from each other by joking about “crispy critters”, wildland firefighters who die by being burned alive or when superheated gasses collapse their lungs before the wildfire burns the flesh from their bones. We were a culture that was heavily influenced by the numerically few Vietnam combat veterans in our midst at the time, but who were almost always the older, more worldly, and more influential members of our crew.
    The Mormon Lake Hotshots were one of the sister crews of the Happy Jack Hotshots, my crew, from our home Forest, the Coconino National Forest. Mormon Lake is only 12 miles from Happy Jack. We were simply taken into a dark conference room for a “talking to” at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Flagstaff, Arizona, after we finished mopping up the Battlement Creek Fire, and returned home.
    We were ordered not to even TALK about the fire amongst ourselves in that dark room a long time ago. And we didn’t…we were loyal to Our Fire Gods, who were not very loyal to us in return…and in fact, they betrayed us and themselves in the end.
    Just like the Fire Gods of today have betrayed the Granite Mountain Hotshots to protect the reputations and careers of the managers of today, AND…of course to protect the responsible agencies and their corresponding managers from civil liabilities and the consequences of their actions and/or non-actions.
    So…back to my motivation. I spoke out because I have an quick temper and an aggressive personality (which of course, is a bad combination, it was touch and go for a few decades when I hoped I might end up at the top of pile, but I was afraid I would end up out of a job, but things worked out OK in the end, and I managed not to accomplish either one) and I got really…really…angry at all of the clueless structural firemen and ignorant politicians who were suddenly, and out-of-the-blue speaking for all WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS.
    Before June 30, 2013, the average person was only vaguely aware there even were wildland firefighters, and generally completely clueless about hotshots in particular. After June 30, 2013, we had the Prescott Fire Department speaking on behalf of wildland firefighters everywhere.
    I had to care what everybody thought about everything for a few decades, and now I don’t really care what anybody thinks about anything. But…if I can help, I would like to do that.
    This is the house that WE built. YOU (structural firefighters in general and the Prescott Fire Department in particular) are nothing more than Johnny-come-latelies, and an unfortunate by-product from the creation of the Incident Command System (ICS).
    The ICS was designed to allow the wildland firefighting community to operate more “efficiently”…kind of a force multiplier. To do more with less. Does that sound familiar? But most importantly, YOU, the creators of ICS intended it to be all things to all people…a hybrid system by design and definition didn’t you? Hotshot crews cleaning up after Hurricane Andrew, wildfire overhead coordinating debris clean up at Ground Zero after the World Trade Centers were destroyed.
    Translation? Gut the professional wildland firefighting organization and the Command and Control organizational structure that supported them, the Large Fire Organization. Eliminate thousands of federal full time, temporary, seasonal, and summer (the little tricks the federal government uses to get out of paying benefits to wildland firefighters is almost endless) wildland firefighters (almost all of them from the USFS) to save the taxpayer money.
    The same taxpayers who now cry on the nightly news on a regular basis because their little slice of heaven…otherwise known as the Wildland Urban Interface Paradox, I added the word paradox, and sometimes their whole community is burnt to the ground by a raging wildfire.
    USFS ICS Implementation Plan (circa 1982)
    Step 1. Identify every Local Yokel Fire Department in the country by combing through the local telephone books.
    Step 2. Give every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Sally from said Local Yokel Fire Department 8 hours of ICS training.
    Step 3. Eliminate a large percentage of the USFS professional wildland firefighting force that took decades to build up.
    Step 4. Buy the Local Yokel Fire Department of bunch of new stuff to play with, using some of the money you saved by eliminating a large percentage of the USFS professional wildland firefighting force.
    Step 5. Sign Interagency Memorandums Of Understanding wherein the USFS agrees to reimburse the Local Yokel Fire (LYFD) Department for wages and other expenditures they incur when going to federal wildland fires.
    Side Note: This means the LYFD can hire extra people or save money on the existing people they already have. The LYFD can also acquire a lot of really useful, and sometimes just really neat stuff they couldn’t otherwise afford because the feds are paying for it and writing it off to wildland firefighting expenditure cost codes, which are essentially blank checks issued by the U.S. Treasury Department whenever a wildfire is going to hell in a hand basket.
    Step 6. Call it good, and hope for the best.

    Do you want to know the truth? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    End result? Chief Darrell Willis waved a magic wand the USFS sent in a box marked Local Yokel Fire Department ICS Starter Kit and created a Category 1 (or is it Type I now? I have been out for a while, and I do get lost sometimes) Hotshot Crew from the Prescott Fire Department Brush Disposal Crew, sprinkle some magic dust from the same ICS starter kit over the head of the guy who happens to be running said brush disposal crew at the time, and call him a Hotshot Crew Superintendent.
    Falsify a bunch of paperwork you send to the dumb feds, they won’t know the difference anyway, cut corners whenever and wherever possible, and Wallah! The Good Citizens of Prescott get an almost free brush disposal crew (for pennies on the dollar) and the Prescott Fire Department gets the bragging rights for having the only Interagency Hotshot Crew sponsored by a city fire department in the nation.
    Former Prescott Fire Department Chief Darrell Willis then retires, and gets rehired by the same department at more than $90,000 a year to double-dip and order free stuff for the crew from a big book the USFS sent him. And drive around in a new 4×4 extended cab pickup truck the feds bought him with some of the money they saved by eliminating a large percentage of their professional wildland firefighting force.
    Almost everybody is happy…everybody except for all of those who loved the Granite Mountain Hotshots that is. I’m sorry Eric Marsh…I tried to keep my mouth shut. But a certain clarity can come with age, and enough time to think things through. All of the lies and deception can slowly sneak up on you like an insidious mist, but the truth can come like a flash bang grenade going off inside your head (which, literally speaking…would make a REAL MESS). What is the moral to this story? Sometimes actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences can be decades in the making.
    Yes, I am conflicted about Eric Marsh. As I have also repeatedly stated, “By all accounts he was a squared away crew boss.” But…almost his entire crew is dead because of where he led them. So…that might not, and I say might not, have been the best way to select the crew boss for the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Which established, experienced hotshot crew boss did Eric Marsh learn how to be a hotshot crew boss under. Which hotshot crew did Eric Marsh learn how to be a hotshot on.
    Who taught Eric Marsh his values, that his crew always comes first, no matter what? Was it Darrell Willis, with his obsession on running into buildings that are on fire? I honestly don’t know, and maybe these are unfair questions, but I think they need to be asked. Almost an entire hotshot crew is dead. And I repeat, yes…I am conflicted.
    A lot of people took offense and got mad at me when I said a major contributing factor in the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots was the fact that they were a hybrid crew. Well…that is only a very small piece off the overall picture. THE ENTIRE ICS IS A HYBRID SYSTEM. It was intended to be that way, BY DESIGN, ON PURPOSE. The ICS is also responsible for the deaths of the 5 engine crewmen on the Esperanza Fire.
    Do you think all of those who are involved in investigating this catastrophe are not political? Do you really think Jim Karels is an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR? Mr. Karels is a POLITICAL APPONTEE of a Republican Governor. Mr. Karels was conducting the investigation for another POLTICAL APPOINTEE OF ANOTHER Republican Governor. Do you think that was an accident, or by design? On the other hand, the state OHSA team is a state agency and it looks like they just stuck it to the State Forestry Division. I don’t know?
    Speaking of clueless and ignorant…how about the majority of the media who have reported on this story. Everyone except for John Dougherty that is. Did he get everything exactly right every time? No. But he did try hard and he make corrections whenever it was warranted. As far as the rest of the talking heads and “journalists,” they just repeated the same wrong and oversimplified information and news filler.
    The same reporters who have reported for decades that every crew heading up the mountain to fight a wildfire is a hotshot crew because they don’t know anything about wildland firefighting, what all the other crews are called, which just happens to be the vast majority of wildland firefighting crews, and whatever they are called, it doesn’t sound as “CATCHY” as “HOTSHOTS”, and they are either too busy or too lazy to bother to find out the differences.
    This reporting is done to a general public who is generally completely clueless about wildland firefighting and who have always thought that the term “elite firefighter” is synonymous with “SMOKEJUMPER”, just because almost nothing looks neater than a wildland firefighter jumping out of airplane with nothing but a parachute, a bag of tools and a bag of food to go and fight a WILDFIRE.
    Plus smokejumpers just look very cool on the nightly news and it is fun for the reporters to cover them every year. And of course smokejumpers have had great press for decades now, the Mann Gulch Fire, the book “Young Men and Fire”, and the movie “Red Skies Over Montana”, just for openers, have really gone a long way in creating their almost mystical and enviable reputations as being “Elite Wildland Firefighters.”
    The truth is that the average smokejumper IS more elite than the average hotshot, but not all smokejumpers are more elite than the average hotshot, and most importantly, the best hotshots can easily keep pace hiking up the mountain with heavy loads or cutting hot line with the best smokejumpers. Most smokejumpers are ex-hotshots. Smokejumpers generally go on very small fires, in very small units.
    Often in a unit as small as two people and they stay on those very small fires for days at a time until there is no heat left in their little fire and then they pack up their tools and supplies and often have a very long and lonely hike out of the backcountry. Individualism is a very important characteristic trait for a smokejumper. Reliance on one’s self and maybe one other person is key to ones survival. In the case of a hotshot, think about exactly the opposite.
    Smokejumpers are used to working alone or with one other person, who will probably be a different person the next time they jump on a very small fire in the middle of nowhere, and who may even be from a different jump base than the smokejumper in question is, and they may not even know them or have ever worked with them, or they may just be somebody who knows somebody or they may be known by reputation alone, although it is a very small community.
    Smokejumpers are sent on very small fires in the middle of nowhere, a long ways from anything else, in very rugged terrain, because if there was a road close by, they would send an engine with an engine crew, if it wasn’t a long ways, and in located in very rugged terrain, they would send a helicopter with a helitack crew.
    But…helicopters fly slower than a jump plane, have smaller flying radius’, and they can’t land everywhere (although the advent of helicopter rappelling closed some of that gap) smokejumpers can…so smokejumpers are very useful to keep small fires from becoming big fires.
    Plus, smokejumpers have the added value of looking really cool in their jumpsuits and helmets with the wire mesh to protect their faces when they land in trees or while laying around getting really bronze on the airport runway tarmac or working out while waiting for the siren to go off while the hotshots are humping it up the mountain in a crew line. But…they are a limited resource and very expensive to use, so they are only used on small specific types of fires, generally speaking.
    Everything I am saying here is “GENERALLY SPEAKING”, there are lots of exceptions to everything I have said or will say. However, whenever smokejumpers lose the little fires, or don’t get there in time or about a million other variables come into play, well then…it’s Katie bar the door, it’s too late to send a helicopter with just a helitack crew and we are fixin’ to get real western and have ourselves an out-of-control wildfire.
    And engines with engine crews can’t do the job alone, so they need hand crews, and when the wildfire becomes a MONSTER, well…then it’s time to send in the “Best of the Best”…the hotshots, the grunts, the ground pounders, and maybe some other people included as well, maybe even the occasional smokejumper thrown in acting as a single resource for some fire line assignment (usually in management or in an “overhead” position) that does not require a parachute or being as bronze and as sculpted as a Greek God or Goddess.
    Are you picking up on some bitter rivalry here? Good…it’s a normal and healthy interaction in any relationship between smokejumpers and hotshots. Even hypothetical smokejumpers and a old washed up ex-hotshot. All of the above comments about how smokejumpers operate is pretty much the exact opposite of how hotshots operate.
    With hotshot crews, individualism can be a quick career or even a job ender. It’s almost never about the individual, it’s almost always about the unit, the team, the crew. Twenty hotshots perform on the fire line like a single unit, 40 legs, 40 arms, 20 heads, but only one brain…the Superintendents.
    Now of course that is an exaggeration, but I hope you understand my overall point. And of course hotshot crews are capable of being broken into smaller units or modules, either by squads or teams, such as a burnout or backfire team with as few 2 members, but that is beside the point. The sum of a hotshot crew is greater than the sum of its parts. That’s why it works. That’s how ordinary people are able to do an extraordinary job.
    Now that you have the back story, I can finally make my primary point. I am going to finally have to give up on my argument that we can’t blame the firefighter. There is just too much evidence that indicates we have to blame the firefighter, but…we can add caveats. That is the best outcome we can hope for at this point.
    They are dead, that fact alone is prima facie evidence they screwed up…now we need to know why.
    In an earlier comment in this forum I said, “If the USFS Fire Management Officer who made me a hotshot crew boss would have told me it was Easter, I would have immediately started looking for Easter Eggs, regardless of what the actual date was. That was how much I respected and trusted that man. He was a father figure to me. I believe Eric Marsh and Darrel Willis had a similar relationship.
    That is how the wildland firefighting culture works, it always has, and it always will. That is how ordinary people do extraordinary work. That is why “the whole of a wildland firefighting crew (not just hotshot crews) is greater than the sum of its parts”, to paraphrase an old saying. If a hotshot crew boss tells his or her (San Juan Hotshots) crew that its Easter…well, you know the rest.”
    BUT…HERE COMES THE REALLY, REALLY, IMPORTANT PART OF THAT LITTLE SAYING…it only works if…against all odds, common sense, logic and the rules of the universe…it really is somehow Easter…even though the calendar say’s it’s not…and if the person calling out, “Today is Easter”, gets it wrong, well then…people die really, really, horrible deaths.
    On a side note, here is my thought on newer and better Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that includes the fire shelters carried by the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Wildland firefighters don’t need better PPE, e.g., HEAVIER, and BULKIER fire shelters to hump up and down the mountains with all of the other crap they have to carry.
    Wildland firefighters need to stop working above or at the head of uncontrolled wildfires. I don’t want to cry anymore when I watch the evening news because any more wildland firefighters have been burned to death or died when superheated gasses collapsed their lungs. The point of a fire shelter, is that they are never, never, ever, supposed to be used.
    My generation of wildland firefighters did not believe in fire shelters…so we did a lot better job of staying out of the path of an uncontrolled wildfire. This…compared to the new generation of wildland firefighters who have been taught to believe in fire shelters, and therefore there has been a much greater increase in the incident rate of fire shelter deployments over the past few years. Thankfully, almost all of them have been successful. This is a similar phenomenon to those who quit using seat belts after they got a car that had air bags.
    A lot of really bad stuff came with creation and widespread use of social media on the internet. But, some good things also came, it is now much easier to keep them “honest.” And everybody can have an opinion about everything and have a forum to express that opinion to everyone. Which can be a bad thing because a lot of people don’t have the slightest idea what they are talking about. In my case however, it is a really good thing because I think everyone should listen to me and follow my advice. I just can’t find anybody to agree with me, so now at least I have a bigger audience to try and appeal to.
    One thing that has been proved over the centuries to be a fact when it comes to institutions investigating themselves. IT DOESN’T WORK. And I think this is now extra true for wildland firefighting ever since the Lessons Learned from the 30-Mile Fire truly sank into wildland firefighters. You can now be indicted if you REALLY SCREW UP.
    “No court has ever held that the rights guaranteed under our Constitution are different for public employees than for other citizens. As public servants, however, they can, and should, be accountable to the public for the performance of their public duties. When that accountability clashes with their individual Constitutional rights, the courts must strike a balance. Such was the case decided by the Supreme Court in Garrity v. New Jersey, when police officers accused of being involved in a ticket-fixing scheme were ordered by their department to give testimony about their conduct, or be fired if they refused. Their testimony was used to convict them in the scheme. Finding that the testimony obtained under threat of job loss was “compelled” testimony prohibited by the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination, the court held the statements were immune from use in the criminal prosecution, and reversed their convictions.
    So the Supreme Court said that a public agency can’t force employees to give statements to an investigator by threatening them with loss of their jobs and then still expect to use those statements to criminally prosecute the employee. If investigators do that, then it would have the same effect as if a prosecutor granted the employee, what we call, “use immunity”, that is, a guarantee that the statement, or any information gained as a result of their statement, cannot be used to prosecute them for a crime.
    Well, let me see if I understand this, then. If I am an OIG or an internal affairs investigator, the employees I interview are, in effect, compelled to answer my questions. But under Garrity, what they would tell me can’t be used to prosecute them. Isn’t it possible to interview them and use their statements to prosecute them?
    Not as long as they are truly compelled, it would violate their Fifth Amendment right. However, if the compulsion was removed, say by removing the threat to their employment for choosing to invoke their Fifth Amendment right, then any statements they’d give would be voluntary and could be used against them in a criminal prosecution against them. The Department of Justice has issued guidance that recommends use of a Garrity warning to accomplish just that.”
    All of this is according to http://www.fletc.gov/training/programs/legal-division/podcasts/fletc-legal-division-self-incrimination-roadmap-podcasts/self-incrimination-roadmap-podcasts-transcripts/self-incrimination-interrogating-government-employees-podcast-transcript.html
    Why does it matter that I was a Supervisory Criminal Investigator (Sr. Special Agent GS-1811) with a seat at the table where these kinds of decisions were made. Well…it goes to my credibility as a SME on this subject. I was trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), the BEST in the World (according to them) on how to conduct investigations.
    The way all fire investigations have always been conducted up until now, is THE WRONG WAY TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION. FYI…I learned right off the bat as an investigator that I do not have to as smart as WTKTT to conduct a really thorough investigation, all I have to do is find a cadre of people like him (highly technically and competent in specific tasks) if that is what is called for, and put them to work while I oversee their work. The same is true for Fire Behavior Analysts, experts in Fire Command and Control, the Dispatch System and everything else you can think of, an investigator doesn’t have to know everything about everything, he or she only needs to know how to find those people and put them to work.
    So…finally and most importantly, I’m formerly calling for all future fire investigations to be conducted by professionals, you know…teams of people who have been trained in HOW TO CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION, GS-1811’s that work for somebody, the USDI, and the USDA, augmented by investigators from the State Attorney General’s Office, and Sheriff’s Office, etc., as need be, with a representative or liaison from the agency’s management who were responsible for the fire assigned to the team.
    A cadre or core group of these individuals and/or a combination of these investigators need to be identified and receive further training in wildland firefighting organization, terminology, culture, etc. at FLETC. All of these individuals need to be certified as Wildland Fire Investigators by FLETC (as I was) for starters. Oh…and one more thing…they also need a big briefcase full of Garrity warnings.

    • Gary Olson says

      P.S., To all Wildland Firefighters;

      FYI – The worst of the wildfires today are not the wildfires my generation fought. They burn hotter, they move faster, and they are far more deadly. Therefore, there is less forgiveness for making mistakes. And the mistakes you do make, can be far more deadly.

      • mike says


        I was one of those who had never of the term “hotshots” prior to 6/30/13. I am easily old enough to remember Storm King but do not recall the national media using that term then. When I started posting about this event (and it took a couple of months for me to do so), I felt really inadequate to offer an opinion, still do. When it first took place, the tragedy of it was what grabbed me. I too thought it was an act of God, a sad and unavoidable occurrence. But I came to learn that the story portrayed in the national (and most of the Arizona) media and the actual reality were like 2 completely separate events.

        I do not know why finding the truth of what happened that day matters so much to me, it just does. I do not have the personal connection that so many here do. It just seems that those involved in an official capacity just want to check the box and move on – do an investigation and close it because that is what you do in these events. Who cares if it is the truth. Well, dammit, it does matter. These were good and decent men and we owe it to their memories. There are so many survivors left behind whose lives will be changed forever. I pray that a merciful God in time is able comfort them.

          • Gary Olson says

            The national news media did not use the term “hotshot” very much in connection with the South Canyon Fire, which what it was officially called, but most people referred to it as the fire on Storm King Mountain.

            This is because it was a real cross section of firefighters who were killed, which included smokejumpers and who were the ones the news media talked about the most, although there were a lot more hotshots killed.

            I highly recommend reading
            Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire, by John N. Maclean, if you are interested in wildland firefighter safety and just how screwed up things can get.

    • Yavapai Co. Residents says

      Thank you for taking the time to write, Gary.

      We’ve lived near wildlands for most of our lives, but did not choose to live in/within a WUI until Prescott.

      All our lives, we never took for granted what FFs and WFFs do for us each season. We took for granted that they wouldn’t come home to their loved ones. That’s a kudos for jobs well done each season, despite limited funding, resources, changes in policy, etc.

      For us, the legacy of the fallen 19 is that we grieve; we’d see them in stores shopping, see their buggies around town, etc. The legacy of the 19 for us is we have finally spent time (this past summer) researching and learning as much about what WFFs (in all agencies) actually do, the details, that we now have a profound, very deep, respect for what these young men and women do for the U.S. each season.

      Here come the tears, again, so I’m going to post.

  15. calvin says

    The mystery of 19 young, smart, strong men all laying down waiting for certain death deserves as much attention as the decision to leave a known safety zone.
    Lets put aside all the mistakes that were made that brought all 19 of these men into harms, way for a moment. The leadership on the fire that day failed all 19 GM Hotshots and that is a fact! I will accept the theory that 17 of the 19 were strictly following orders up to a point. 17 of these men were led into this death trap without a vote. When they saw the fire that was about to take their lives, they must have felt serious anger, disappointment and most importantly FEAR. All of their trust in Marsh and Steed was completely destroyed at this moment. These 2 men led 17 men to their deaths and that cannot be denied. Not one man even tried to make a run for it, WHY? Gary and other firemen here have made the point that the deployment site was not survivable. According to the SAIR, Marsh TOLD ASM2, THAT IS EXACTLY WHERE WE WANT THE RETARDANT, two minutes later they were preparing to deploy. They were told at that point. OK, we are bringing you the VLAT. It has been pointed out how busy the radio traffic was at this after 4pm June 30. Why would Marsh come on the radio (seemingly out of nowhere) to tell ASM2: THAT IS EXACTLY WHERE WE WANT THE RETARDANT if he wasn’t expecting it? The assumption that he was calling for a drop to protect the town of Yarnell has been disproven as the smoke would have prevented any view of that area. I am sticking with my previous thoughts. Someone was SUPPOSED to be LOOKING OUT for them! Someone told them the VLAT would give them a buffer. I believe Mcdonough and WIllis know exactly who that person is

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      calvin… great summary. I have ALWAYS been with you on your
      idea that the reason they didn’t run because Marsh could have
      very well been screaming over the wind and roaring sound of
      the approaching fire… “Don’t RUN!… DON’T RUN!!!… the
      VLAT is COMING!”

      He was told that is WAS coming.

      As for “That’s where we want the retardant”… that’s still a
      mystery to me. I have guessed it was because Marsh was
      still just walking merrily along playing ‘DIVS A’ like he had
      been doing all day and thought he was helping ‘fire command’
      just like up another drop… but that is all that is… a guess.

      I have also pretty much disproven my OWN guess there
      that if now both the SAIR and the ADOSH are correct…
      there is no way Marsh could have SEEN that line-up
      flight from down on the floor of the box canyon.

      Did he just HEAR the damn thing going over ‘to the north’
      and just said “that’s where we want retardant” like some
      dumb robot who thought that was still his job?


      So I still really don’t know what to think about that.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Also… am I the only one who thinks it’s a little weird that
        ASM2 would tell these poor men “We are bringing you
        the VLAT” even BEFORE he even bothers to try to
        find out where the heck they WERE?

        The FINAL (known?) transmission is him finally trying
        to find out WHERE they should ‘bring the VLAT’…

        …and ASM2 and Marsh even manage to screw that up.

        All ASM2 asks is “So you’re on the south side of the
        fire then?”

        Marsh replies ( probably WHILE he was trying to
        get into his shelter, which he never fully completed )…


        That’s a pretty piss-poor radio exchange between
        someone who is trying to find men on the ground
        before they die and the man (men) who is about
        to die and NEEDS to be found RIGHT NOW.

        would have been the better question.

        “600 YARDS DUE WEST OF BOULDER SPRINGS RANCH” would have been the better answer.

        No. All we get is some stupid “Affirm”.

        Screw-ups right until even the FINAL moment(s).

  16. calvin says

    The following information was found at Military.com July 24 by Cpl. Chelsea Anderson, Marine Veterans among 19 firefighters killed

    With the Hotshots safety uncertain, Willis’ crew met its own challenges — a significant advancement of the fire at their location made him shift his focus to his own crew. While dealing with his own oncoming blaze, Willis received a phone call alerting his attention back to the Granite Mountain crew. Willis’ crew was in a tight spot, but he knew the Granite Mountain Hotshots were up against even more. He handed over command of his division to his subordinate and moved around to the other side of the fire where the operations chief for the Granite Mountain crew was located.
    Once there, Willis made multiple unsuccessful calls to the Hotshots. His thoughts began to run wild. He had full confidence in the leadership of crew captain Jesse Steed and the rest of the 20-man team, but his calls remained unanswered.

    So it appears that DIV Z was not the only one abandoning their assignment on June 30. Or was Chief Willis actually Div Z?

  17. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> From Arizona Central article about family members
    >> reactions to the ADOSH report…
    >> Ashcraft said she wasn’t ready to discuss whether she would bring
    >> legal action in her husband’s death, but she said it might be a way
    >> to get officials to talk.
    >> “Unfortunately, sometimes, those answers only come about once an
    >> issue is litigated,” she said. “Because otherwise, you can’t get the
    >> truth until you get those people (to talk) under penalty of perjury.”

    Spot on.

    You GO, girl.

  18. Gary Olson says

    FYI – The Office of the Solicitor General has to approve an employee testifying or being interviewed in civil case. All departments have a Solicitor General such as USDA Solicitor General, USDI Solicitor General etc. It is very, very, very hard, if not impossible to challenge or fight the federal government in court. It is standard operating procedure and it is an automatic defensive action, so don’t read too much into that particular aspect, just like any attorney advises their client not to talk to the other side. It is not about right and wrong even with our own government, it is about protecting your clients and doing what is best for THEM not what the general public thinks is RIGHT.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Poor Blue Ridge Hotshots.

      They just went from the only people who seemed like
      they knew what they were doing that day…

      …to the people who now seem to have the most to HIDE.

      As far as I’m concerned… they are ALL ‘fair game’ now.

      From IHC’s own (public) website…

      Blue Ridge IHC
      Coconino NF
      Mogollon District
      8738 Ranger Road
      Happy Jack, AZ 86024

      Duty location for crew: Happy Jack, AZ

      Brian Frisby, Superintendent
      Email: [email protected]
      (928) 477-5023

      Rogers Trueheart Brown, Assistant Superintendent
      Email: [email protected]
      (928) 477-5024

      Travis Fuller, Squad Boss
      Email: [email protected]
      (928) 477-5027

      Michael Gordon, Squad Boss
      Email: [email protected]
      ( 928) 477-5027

      Cory Ball, Squad Boss
      (928) 477-5022
      Email: [email protected]

      Blue Ridge Hotshots FAX number…
      (928) 477-5057 (Fax)

    • Gary Olson says

      P.S., the “client” is not the employee. The federal government and their attorneys will support and protect the employee only as long as it is in the best interests of their real client to do so, the “agency” who is involved.

      Once their interests diverge, the attorneys for the government cut the employees throat and they leave them for dead on the trail. Nobody ever said it is supposed to be fun to be a federal employee.

      That is why so many federal employees, all of those who are smart and have something to lose, carry their own liability insurance. Life is not fair.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Gary… you are right… but this was no bus accident.

        This was the greatest single-day loss of firefighters
        since some lucky idiots knocked down the World
        Trade Center(s)… and the most historic and tragic
        blunder in the entire history of the Federal Wildland
        Firefighting program.

        It’s HISTORIC.

        I think ‘all bets might be off’ for this one.

        The only ‘bus accidents’ here are going to be the
        people the Feds and the Arizona Forestry Commission
        and the City of Prescott start throwing UNDER said
        ‘buses’ in the very near future.

  19. Robert the Second says

    Regarding DIVS Z Rance Marquez –

    Did you all notice that at 1030 he ABANDONED his position due to issues with fire behavior, fuels, etc. being “problemtatic?” And that he never returned to his post, nor did the IMT replace him to fulfill DIVS Z duties, responibilities, supervision, and oversight?

    WTF is up with that? The ones that worked for/with him on the Doce Fire made comments like he was way out of his league, beyond his comfort level, and the like.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      This Marquez guy is, apparently, some piece of work.

      Doesn’t even get there until after 1:00 PM… starts arguing with
      everyone ( Marsh included ), abandons his job, then
      what?… off to the Ranch House Restaurant for a burger?

      I’d love to see his INVOICE for that day.
      Do you think he even had the ‘sand’ to submit one?

  20. Robert the Second says


    So what do you think changed his (Marsh) mind from when he told OPS at 1600 that he could/would not assist with Yarnell to whenever he decided to leave the SZ and head into the death bowl? The structure fire mentality of saving structures, the fact that thye were just hunkering and not really doing anything productive in their minds, … what do you think?

    • mike says

      I think he thought about it, nothing more than that.
      After all we are talking about a couple of minutes time here, no more than that. The MacKenzie video is part of the discussion or “reconsideration” process. His first reaction (the correct one) was to say no, but then he gave in to the urge to help. I do not think it is any more complicated than that. He talked to Steed about it and they decided to go.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Then there would be some kind of documented radio
        call BACK to ‘Musser’ saying… “We talked it over again
        and we will be there”.

        Why in the HELL would they ‘change their minds’ and
        not let the person who even put the idea into their
        heads know they were now ‘on the way’?

        NONE of this makes any sense.

        There is also still the possibility that Musser was
        standing right next to Willis… told Willis that Marsh
        said “They’re not coming… Marsh said they are
        committed to the black for now”…

        …and Willis turned away, muttered to himself…
        “the hell they are”, and still got on his cell phone,
        called Marsh and said…

        “Eric… this is your BOSS, Willis. I think you can make
        it… and we really need you down here. Catch my
        drift? Move out.”

        It’s still possible.

        Cell phone records are just as important to have
        as they have been since day one here.

        • mike says

          If you are interviewing Musser and he tells you of the inquiry at 1600 and the fact he was told no, and you know at 1604 the GMHS are on their way, is not the first question you ask “Did Marsh communicate back with you?”. The report is dead silent about this question, which surely had to be asked. So did he or did he not? I don’t know. We are left hanging.

          All this “head-shaking” about him changing his mind does not change the fact that he did, and in less than 4 minutes! Maybe Willis called him, I don’t know. Not much can happen in 4 minutes. I do think it is apparent the the GMHS headed to Yarnell to provide some form of assistance following a discussion with OPS2.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            It was more than 4 minutes.

            More like 15 minutes… with a LOT
            happening in those 15 minutes.

            The ADOSH says the ‘request’ came from
            OPS2 ( Musser ) at ‘shortly after 1545’.

            If it was even 4 minutes ‘shortly after’ ( I
            wouldn’t call 4 minutes ‘shortly after’ in
            this kind of tight timeframe but maybe
            they think it is )… then that was STILL
            1 minute BEFORE the ADOSH says
            McDonough was going to abandon his
            lookout post. ( SAIR says this happened
            at 1555 but now ADOSH puts it 5
            minutes earlier at 1550 ).

            So all of the following things happened
            between the time OPS2 let them know
            they were needed in town… and they
            actually decided to leave ‘good black’.

            – Brendan abandoned his lookout spot.

            – Brendan got picked up by Frisby.

            – Frisby told Marsh he had Brendan and
            they would move vehicles.

            – GM moved from one ‘boulder pile’ as
            shown in the MacKenzie 1553 photo
            set… to the next boulder pile as per
            the MacKenzie 1600 – 1602 photos and

            – The ‘comfort level’ conversation took place
            between Marsh/Steed… and a still
            unidentified ‘third voice’ saying “You bet”
            back to Eric Marsh.

            – Air Attack says that fire will reach town
            in 1-2 hours.

            – 1604 – Wade Parker sends final text
            to his mother saying ‘jus starting to evac’.

            – 1605 – They are moving south now.

            That’s a lot of ‘stuff’ happening between
            the time ADOSH says Musser asked
            them to ‘come join the party down here’
            and them actually deciding to ‘change
            their minds’.

            I still think ( perhaps ) the report from
            Air Attack that the fire was still 1-2
            HOURS away from town even at
            the 1555 – 1600 timeframe may have
            had a BIG influence on their decison.

            I think it’s possible they trusted that guy
            in that airplane too much… and ended
            up paying for that misplaced trust with
            their lives.

            There’s more to come here, folks.
            You can count on that.

            The ADOSH report is pretty much just
            another piece of brown-stuff showing up
            in this ongoing crapfest.

      • Gary Olson says

        We have discussed the wildland fire culture quite a bit, but there is at least one difference with the military. I think It is very, very, rare for someone to say, “I order you to do such and such.” I think “orders” are given more like ordinary people would do in a conversation, a lot like WTKTT say’s above, so Marsh and Steed would hear a request, “Hey can you guy’s get down here ASAP to help us here?” That would be more like how an order is given, more like a request to do what the requester thinks is right. And of course I think they would not have a problem telling just anybody “no” but would have a problem telling somebody special “no”.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Yes… I suppose the ‘military’ style stuff only really
          shines through in training and ‘behind closed
          doors’ such as when every time a new recruit
          would step on one of the black tiles that spell
          ‘Granite Mountain’ that Marsh inlaid himself into
          the floor of their ‘ready room’… Marsh would
          say “Drop and give me 50” ( Pushups ).

          In most ‘normal’ work environments ( even ones
          that do, in fact, require order and discipline )
          stepping on a certain color tile is no big deal.

          Here… in this culture… it’s “Give me 50”.

          There is another ‘moment’ in the SAIR that
          has gone unanswered now in the ADOSH
          that backs up what you are saying.

          There is something else that someone
          ‘asked Marsh nicely’ to do ( instead of just
          telling him to do it )… and Marsh even felt
          ‘un-military’ enough to just say… “I’d like
          to pass on that”. Very civil. Very democratic.

          Problem is… we still have no idea what the
          hell he was ‘passing’ on… so nice and politely.

          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.”

          PASS on WHAT?

          The SAIR doesn’t say.

          ADOSH now describes this same moment
          but doesn’t even mention Marsh saying
          “I want to pass on that”.

          What did someone ASK him to do ( nicely? )
          at THAT point?

          • mike says

            I think he is just saying “I want to tell you” which is the same as “I want to pass on”. To “pass on” information means to relay it.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              I stand corrected. You are right.
              There is NO ‘period’ there in that
              sentence from the SAIR. I was
              reading it as two statements instead
              of just one.

              It really is a shame that Blue Ridge
              was late that day and missed all
              the briefings. Otherwise… he would
              have known exactly what Marsh
              meant and at least SOMEONE
              would have known exactly where
              they were headed.

              Maybe this is why BR is all
              lawyered up now and refusing to
              talk about anything. Their lawyers
              are seeing some liability here.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Correction for above.

            I was wrong.

            It wasn’t “Drop and give me 50”.
            It was “Drop and give me 100”.

            From the Kyle Dickman article…
            and his interview with Brendan

            :: After rolling out of his sleeping bag
            :: that Sunday morning, Eric headed to
            :: the parking lot, crossing the black
            :: tiles he’d helped install in the white
            :: floor to spell out “GMIHC—Granite
            :: Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew.”
            :: When rookies stepped on the black
            :: tiles, they owed the veterans
            :: 100 push-ups.
            :: He pulled out his JetBoil stove and a
            :: Nalgene full of Bisbee’s specialty
            :: coffee grounds—both of which he
            :: always carried in his fire-line gear—
            :: and brewed up a pot of coffee. Eric
            :: had been sober for 13 years.
            :: Coffee was his only drug (now), and
            :: he took it black.

          • calvin says

            As above p24. Marsh states that he believes the fire is almost as far as the GM vehicles.

            Lets compare this with the audio from Mackenzie video.
            Steed says The fire is almost as far as the two track we walked in on.
            According to the fire progression map, these two statements were made at different times.
            Steed’s statement, identified to occur shortly after 1600, describes what the fire progression map shows. The fire is almost at the two track, near the grader.
            The statement made by Marsh, identifying the fire “almost at the GM vehicles”, must have occurred a few minutes later (according to the fire progression map.)
            The fire arrived at the GM vehicle parking area at approximately 1622. Marsh obviously made the statement BEFORE the GM vehicles were moved. Time unknown. According to the fire progression chart, the fire made a huge push toward the vehicles starting at 1615.This would put the time BR moves the 2 GM buggies closer to 1615. This would also support WTKTT times of when Marsh actually lost view of the middle bowl, GM parking area.

  21. Robert the Second says


    The way I read the AZ OSHA report is that OPS Musser did NOT ask GM HS to DO anything. He was merely inquiring of Marsh and/or GM HS “if they COULD assist at Yarnell.” So, he did NOT “ask them to leave there.” Therefore, this was NOT a direct request nor was it an order or any direction to go there, but merely seeking information from them to see IF they were able to. The report stated that “either Marsh or GMHS Captain Steed replied that they could not,” so they deferred and suggested contacting BR HS. Which makes sense because that was the Division BR HS was already working in.

    • mike says

      But you do not ask in those circumstances unless you want the answer to be yes. I think it is perfectly believable that he just inquired. And I think it is perfectly believable that Marsh wanted to help out if at all possible. So, yes, the onus of the decision to go was on Marsh, he made the call. And I think that is a believable scenario for why the GMHS were headed where they were.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      OPTION 1
      Musser: Hey Eric… is there any chance you guys could get here?
      Marsh: I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Frisby. He’s already down
      there and then get back to me. In the meantime I’ll ask Steed
      what his ‘comfort level’ is.

      OPTION 2
      Musser: Hey Eric… can you guys please get down here?
      Marsh: I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Frisby. He’s already down
      there and then get back to me. In the meantime I’ll ask Steed
      what his ‘comfort level’ is.

      What’s the difference?

      It doesn’t matter how Musser would have PHRASED a
      question like that at a time like that.

      As mike says above… Marsh/Steed would have HEARD the
      same thing no matter what.

      “We are needed down there.”

      How do we know there wasn’t ANOTHER conversation right
      after that one that went something like this…

      Musser: Eric… I talked to Frisby. He said “We don’t do hero
      stuff”. Can I count on you guys?

      Marsh: I talked to Steed. His comfort level isn’t that high but
      Air Attack just said it will take 1-2 hours before the fire reaches
      town so he thinks we can make it… so yea… we’ll be THERE.
      We’ll be coming in from the west through that bomb-proof
      ranch thing… but don’t tell OPS1 we’re coming or he might
      have a cow.

      Musser: Roger that. Thanks. See ya soon.

      ** Let’s look at EXACTLY what the ADOSH report says…

      Page 18 of ADOSH Narrative….

      :: Shortly thereafter ( 1545 ) Operations Section Chief II 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 ).

      God… I hate this ‘narrative’ crap.

      So we do not KNOW ( even now ) what Mr. Musser even
      actually ‘said’ to these guys. This is just some ADOSH
      person writing more ‘narrative’ crap and not giving us

      We can, however, be certain ( if even Musser wasn’t ) that he
      was talking to Marsh. Not Steed.

      If I understand ‘the culture’ as described by RTS, Gary Olson,
      Mr. Powers and others… there is NO WAY that ‘Captain Steed’
      would have made that kind of authoritative statement back
      to Musser without ‘checking with Eric first’.

      So if the person Musser was speaking to did, in fact, make
      that snap ‘no’ decision right away… then it had to be Marsh.

      Was that it for Musser’s interview?

      Did he stop and go to the bathroom after telling the ADOSH
      folks about this conversation… and then never came back?

      What happened NEXT?

      What did Blue Ridge SAY to Musser’s request?
      Did Musser even ASK them?
      If Frisby said “We don’t do hero stuff, sorry.”… did Musser
      then call Marsh/Steed back and tell them BR said “NO”?.

      Fer cryin’ out loud. Throw us a bone here.

      This is all IMPORTANT!

  22. Robert the Second says


    “They MUST have thought they had the time to do what they were asked to do that afternoon.” Yes, they clearly underestimated the ROS in that fuel type under those weather conditions that day. It’s as if Watch Out Number 4 applied to them in their own turf – ‘Unfamiliar with local factors influencing weather and fire behavior.’

    “But I still want to know why they were even there in that ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.” Either they were directed to go there by one of the OPS or else Marsh and Steed decided on their own or together to do it. They could have and should have refused the first one and given an option, like ‘let it pulse and we’ll go down afterwards’ or ‘we’ll walk through the black from here.’ The second one has strong indications of prior bad decsions with good outcomes. In other words, they’ve done it before and gotten away with it, so let’s try it again.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The ‘new’ theory here… that it was OPS2 ( Musser ) and not
      OPS1 ( Abel ) that might have ‘asked them to leave there’
      might actually explain a few other ongoing mysteries.

      Fulfilling a direct request from OPS2 ( Musser ) might have been
      the reason they either didn’t CARE… or didn’t WANT OPS1 ( Abel )
      to know where they really were or what their ‘mission’ was.

      In other words… OPS2 asked them to ‘come be heroes’.
      They (GM) decided they were going to do that.
      If they tried to clear it with OPS1… he might have said “NO!”.

      So they just took off… trusting what Air Attack said about
      having 1-2 hours before the fire reached town and that
      that was plenty of time to ‘do this’.

      Air Attack was wrong. WAY wrong… and they paid for
      trusting that 1-2 hour prediction with their lives.

  23. Robert the Second says


    Okay, so lemmings was a poor metaphor but it was late when I posted.

    We did our best to prevent Groupthink and encouraged the same with other Crews and workshops and trainings. And there were a lot of good firefighters on the GMHS that had ‘the sand’ to say ‘WTF are we doing and why are we doing this?” It is taught and encouraged on a Crew-by-Crew basis I suppose. But like I said in another post, there were guys on the GMHS that knew or should’ve known better and would have and/or should have spoken up. If they did, it’s obvious to me that nobody listened to change their actions.

    As far as the quasi-military stance, it MUST be that way. It’s not a democracy. You don’t get to vote, unless it’s where you all want to eat maybe.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I still think they ALL simply thought they had the time to do what
      was being asked of them ( by Paul Musser… OPS2? ).

      I still think Marsh/Steed were relying on the last report they
      got from Air Attack before they set off on this missions.
      Air Attack said it wouldb 1-2 hours before the fire reached

      I think they trusted the guy in the airplane to know what he
      was talking about… and they just didn’t think much about
      the possibility he could have been TOTALLY wrong.

      I’ve done a lot of research on these fellas.

      I have scoured the Internet looking for other pictures taken
      by Christopher MacKenzie just in the hopes of finding an
      original from his Canon Sureshot so I could extract
      JPEG EXIF data and identify the exact model of camera.

      This guy was a wildland firefighter, a snowboarder,
      a punk rocker, he had just helped his mother through a
      terrible health issue.

      This guy had ‘sand’… no doubt.

      They ALL have similar stories.

      They MUST have thought they had the time to do what they
      were asked to do that afternoon.

      But I still want to know why they were even there in
      that ‘wrong place at the wrong time’.

  24. Yavapai Co. Residents says

    WTKTT, yes, well said that the financial consequences are very real for whoever is involved.

    Thank you for clarifying the “subcontractor” status of the GMIHC on the Yarnell Hill Fire incident. My source was in error re: the process the ASFD follows. I have my own business and often work within two statuses, even simultaneously: 1099 and W-2 subcontractor.

    The latter, W-2 subcontractor, the name of my employer changes to the business entity I’m under contract with rather than my own business as the employer entity for 1099 status.

    I had forgotten that the initial request was not fulfilled through normal channels, and that’s a critical point/issue, particularly on the legal front as you suggested. Is it still true that SWCC continued to deny ASD’s request for GMIHC? If yes, then “that is huge”.

    Yes, I did read Marcia McKee’s “Notice of Claim” in its entirety when it first was published online in PDF file format.

    It’s so sad that a mother, grieving over the loss of her only child, has to resort to this “Notice of Claim” and the stated dollar amounts to try and obtain the truth from the government entities. I wonder if all of this we now see is a result of a cummulation of “hiding the truth” from previous WFF fatal incidents, especially the Thirtymile Fire of 2001? (We have read all of John N. Maclean’s books plus his father’s on the Mann Gulch fire. But, the Thirtymile Fire seems to have been a “big game changer”.)

    We, too, like the WFF family, only want to know the truth about what happened to save WFFs’ lives. We miss our GMIHC very much, and we equally appreciate our Prescott NF IHC and want them to stay safe and always come home after an incident.

    (FYI only: I also know that there is at least one member of the COP City Counsel who cares very deeply about keeping WFFs and our area FFs safe, and who does care if they live or die on the line. That person is also a proponent of continuing to create defensible space in our community. That City Counsel member asked Fraijo and Willis for data to support bringing back an active GMIHC, which they provided. I watched that City Counsel meeting on our local public access channel and heard the data/numbers from Fraijo and Willis.)

    But, yes, I understand you writing that “…it really is all about ‘the money’ at this point (unfortunately).”, and I agree with you that it’s so sad that a grieving family member feels she needs to go down that road in order to get the truth.

    And, speaking of wanting to get the truth…what about the USDOA Forestry Service, now that the BRIHC members are under a “gag order”?

    Why isn’t BHIHC talking?

    Maybe the “Notice of Claim” needs to be amended to add the USFS?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      There was a picture taken by reporter Michelle Lee of the
      Arizona Republic of the Blue Ridge Hotshots all in a ‘huddle’
      ( like a fooball team ) at the Ranch House Restaurant at
      precisely 5:48 PM that afternoon. ( See a post WAY above
      about the Tom Story and Michelle Lee photos from that day ).

      Ranger 58 ( The DPS Helicopter ) had already been in
      the air looking for Granite Mountain for a half-hour or
      so ( since 5:16 PM ).

      It would not be until 6:35 PM that the DPS medic would
      confirm 19 fatalities over the radio.

      So this ‘moment’ captured by Michelle Lee could not have
      been the moment when Blue Ridge actually learned the
      real fate of Granite Mountain… but 5:48 would have
      represented a full ONE HOUR since they all heard about
      the deployment… and I am given to understand that in
      WFF circles… if you don’t hear from anyone for an hour
      after they said they are ‘deploying’… you can pretty
      much assume the worst.

      So I think the Michelle Lee photo actually DOES capture
      the moment when the Blue Ridge Hotshots were
      ‘assuming the worst’.

      I have always thought it was a little ‘odd’, though.

      There just wasn’t something quite right about that ‘huddle’.

      Like there was ‘something more to it’ than just those men
      ‘huddling’ together to share their grief.

      It almost looks like SOMETHING is being intently DISCUSSED.

      Even the Blue Ridge Hotshot in the foreground has his
      hand to his ear to make sure he is hearing EVERY WORD
      that the ‘quarterback’ in this huddle ( Frisby? ) is saying.

      Could this be the moment when all of these Blue Ridge
      Hotshots are actually being told “Do NOT talk about what
      has just happened here today with ANYONE.”?

      The photo I am talking about is here…


      It was ‘tweeted’ by Michelle Lee from the parking lot of
      the Ranch House Restaurant at 5:48 PM, June 30, 2013…

  25. mike says

    Random thoughts this AM.

    First, it makes sense OPS1 asked BR first, they were closer. IF they did and were turned down, imagine the level of grief added to what we thought the BR super was already feeling – how absolutely horrible.

    Second, did the SAIT know about this Musser request? If not, why not? If so, and they left it out, the SAIT is exposed as a fraud and these guys should never be near a fire investigation for eternity.

    Third, note the Musser request would have occurred after the “hunker down and be safe” instruction.

    Fourth, maybe Brendan McDonough knows all of this and feels they did the “right” thing. And that is why he says he will never second guess or say anything negative. Also “I know what happened and others do too” (paraphrased).

    Finally I always said there were 2 questions. 1) Why were they there? and 2) Why did they underestimate the risk? I think the answer to #1 is coming into focus. Getting a good answer for #2 may be harder.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      mike… totally agree. Finding an answer to #1 is NEVER really
      going to make sense of #2. They were professionals. Even
      if they were ORDERED to get to Glen Ilah… somewhere
      along that hike south… or right at the point where they
      thought the only way to get to the ranch was to drop into
      a fuel-filled box canyon that was in front of an advancing fire…

      …they SHOULD have done a ‘full stop’… gotten on the radio…
      and told someone… “Sorry… no can do.”

      But I still want the answer to #1.
      I think the families of these men deserve to know.

  26. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> mike asked…
    >> Has anyone been able to decipher exactly what Steed says the last time
    >> he speaks in the MacKenzie video? I think I hear the word “walk”, but
    >> have a feeling what he says might be important and I am not sure
    >> what that is.

    The last thing Steed says is…

    “I copy.. and it’s almost made it that two track road that we walked in on.”

    There is no more ‘audio’ after that ( none that I can hear, anyway ).

    I think the new information today about OPS2 ( Paul Musser ) definitely being
    a part of that mysterious ‘discussing their options’ conversation puts
    new light on who that mysterious ‘third voice’ is heard in the video.

    Eric Marsh had a habit of ending his sentences with ‘ya know’.

    We hear it once when he is talking directly to Steed about his
    ‘comfort level’ in the first 9 second clip in the video… and then we
    hear him say ‘…ya know’ again when he is just finishing another
    ‘statement’ as the second 9 clip video BEGINS… but that ‘ya know’
    was NOT directed at Steed. What we hear there is Marsh finishing
    a sentence that was directed at SOMEONE ELSE who was on
    that radio channel at that moment… and that SOMEONE ELSE
    ( Not Steed ) replies to Eric with “You bet” ( over the radio, with
    modulation ).

    Could that be Musser saying “You bet.”?

    Here’s the skinny on that part of the video from a previous post I made…


    At the EDIT point where the manual ‘fade’ has been ‘insterted’ ( by some still
    unknown person ) we hear the very tail end of a sentence that Marsh is
    finishing which appears to be this…

    “…need, ya know”

    Then ( still on the radio with modulation ), SOMEONE
    ( Not Steed ) says “You bet”.

    Then we hear the transmission end with the distinct sound of radio modulation
    ‘cutting off’… and only THEN do we hear Steed say ( without any radio
    modulation because the video recorder was capturing his voice in real time
    close to the camera )…

    “I copy.. and it’s almost made it that two track road that we walked in on.”

    The key here is that moment when the radio modulation ceases. Whoever said
    “You bet” in response to Marsh’s “…need, ya know” was saying it OVER THE
    RADIO… and Steed only chimed in AFTER the modulation cut off.

    So whoever said “You bet” was the person Marsh was actually directing his
    “…need, ya know” statement to and whoever said “You bet” in response was
    ON THE RADIO AS WELL ( and it was NOT Steed ).

    Did we just find out (today) that the ‘third voice’ there is Paul Musser…
    and that he was a full participant in that mysterious ‘discussing their options’

  27. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Kudos to Rocksteady, RTS, calvin, others for that great work on the ROS
    ( Rate Of Spread ) numbers.

    I can’t really add to that obviously expert work, but I did get a chance to come
    up to speed on this actual ‘WindWizard’ product that was used to produce the
    ‘Wind Flow’ chart on page 79 of the SAIR.

    The WindWizard product has, in fact, been ‘obsolete’ for quite some time…
    even before the SAIT used it.

    The Missoula Fire Sciences Lab has long since moved on to a new software
    product called ‘WindNinja’.

    WindWizard was only available, before its demise, to people willing to pay
    thousands of dollars in licensing fees.

    WindNinja is much the same product, is greatly improved, but is still considered
    ‘experimental’ and is only in what they call BETA in software terms. That means
    the authors believe it DOES work… but they are looking for actual ‘field use’ and
    ‘testing’ and feedback from users. Bugs are still expected to be found.

    As such… that means it’s available for free ( for now ).

    So I just downloaded it and installed it myself from the following location…

    ** WindNInja

    Missoula Fire Lab
    WindNinja download
    for Win32 or Win64
    38 megabyte self-contained installation program.
    WindNinja version 2.2.0 for Windows® Installation Program
    WindNinja-2.2.0-win32-install.exe (32-bit) OR
    WindNinja-2.2.0-win64-install.exe (64-bit)
    Download it for FREE here…

    WindNinja is, for all intents and purposes, the same WindWizard core software
    with improvements and new features. The same actual ‘modeling’ algorithms
    that were/are in WindWizard have just been ‘ported’ over to WindNinja.

    In other words… WindNinja has the same ‘brain’ as WindWizard and
    will model the winds the exact same way WindWizard did/does.

    The OUTPUT from WindNinja is also identical to what WindWizard produces.
    You get a 3D terrain image in Google Earth KML ( Keyword Markup Language )
    format that is immediately viewable in Google Earth.

    This is exactly what the SAIR team used for their ‘Wind Speed’ chart on page
    79 of the SAIR, after doing a ‘run’ with some input data. It is just a computer
    screen capture of a Google Earth display of the KML output file from a
    WindWizard modeling run.

    That ‘input data’ is what the mystery would still be.
    The SAIR doesn’t say what numbers they used to generate that chart.
    They just show us ‘the results’.

    As they say in my part of the world… using this software is not exactly ‘rocket
    surgery’. It is DESIGNED to be ‘easy to use’ and only requires some very basic
    input to produce some pretty detailed results.

    About the only complicated thing is actually obtaining the right topographical
    maps to be used to generate the final terrain maps for Google Earth.

    That was much more complicated with WindWizard than it is now for WindNinja.
    The new software allows you to go direct to download sites for just about any
    topographical data for any location ( in the USA, anyway ).

    All you do is select the right location in the USA… draw a box around the exact
    place you want to measure ‘wind speeds’, and click a DOWNLOAD MAP
    DATA button.

    Everything is automatic after that.

    You can immediately just start putting wind information in and get pretty
    Google Earth 3D charts back out that look just like page 79 of the SAIR.

    In just a few minutes… I was able to produce a ‘wind speed’ chart for the
    same box canyon in Yarnell that looks ALMOST identical to what appears
    on page 79 of the SAIR.

    When I say ALMOST… that’s the rub.

    The wind speeds over the ‘mounds’ and the ‘ridges’ are easily duplicated
    just as they are seen in the SAIR… but the wind behavior in the box canyon
    itself is not.

    As near as I can tell… the ONLY way the SAIT could have achieved the kind of
    ‘multiple diurnal’ wind speed rates that they are showing for the floor of that
    box canyon using this particular software was to use a special MODE in either
    WindWizard or WindNinja that is called “Point Initialization”.

    What that means is that you have to pretty much already know what the
    information is for certain ‘points’ on the map before WindWizard or WindNinja
    can just show you the graphical representation of those (specific) areas.

    ‘Point Initialization’ mode was meant to supplement the ‘domain averaging’
    mode in the software and allow users to enter actual information coming
    from actual weather stations at certain points in the area being ‘modeled’.

    You CAN, however, just ‘make up’ your own weather station information for any
    specific point and just ‘pretend’ that there was an actual weather station there
    giving you good readings for that ‘point’. The software then just ‘trusts you’
    that this ‘point information’ is accurate and it ‘works it into’ the wind results
    along with the computed ‘domain averaging’ stuff.

    I could be wrong… but I believe this is the only way the SAIT could have used
    the actual WindWizard software product to achieve the actual graphic results
    shown on page 79 of the SAIR.

    That chart appears to be a combination of ‘Domain Averaging’ and this special
    use of the ‘Point Initialization’ mode.

    So it’s not exactly a GIGO situation ( Garbage In, Garbage Out ).
    It’s more like a FDIERO ( Fixed Data In, Expected Results Out ).

    They MAY have simply ‘decided’ what the wind speed chart for the canyon was
    SUPPOSED to look like… and then just created their own ‘Point Initialization’ files
    for various spots in the canyon and fiddled with them until the graphic output
    showed them what they already expected to see.

    In other words… as good as the modeling algorithms in WindSpeed and
    WindNinja really are ( it’s actually good work )… they are not AS smart as
    the figure on page 79 of the SAIR would have us believe. There appears to
    have been some ‘forced results’ included in that ‘modeling run’ we can see.

    That would pretty much fit in with the whole approach of the SAIR itself.
    Arrive at a conclusion FIRST… then present only evidence that supports it.

    I could be wrong ( but I don’t think I am ).

    If they had only published the exact ‘modeling’ input data and ‘prediction run’
    settings that they actually used to generate that chart on page 79 ( WITHOUT
    using any special or custom ‘Point Intialization’ files or data )…

    …then it would be easy to prove the software actually did come up with all that
    complicated canyon wind flow all by itself.

    Any other run of WindWizard or WindNinja with the same ‘input’ should
    then produce the SAME results.

    It it does not… then they MUST have been using some ‘made up’ Point
    Initialization files to achieve the results they already knew they wanted to

    By the way… here is the exact ‘modeling run’ setup and wind input information
    I have already used to produce a chart that is ALMOST identical to page 79
    of the SAIR, except for the complicated canyon floor wind behavior they
    are showing right around the deployment site.

    This would be the kind of ‘what did YOU use?’ data that I would have loved for
    them to have published along with THEIR modeling run on page 79, so we
    could see if it could be duplicated without ‘interference’ or ‘manipulation
    of the data’.

    ** WindNinja Modeling Run
    ** Box Canyon west of Glen Ilah
    ** Identical area to page 79 of the SAIR report.

    Input parameters…

    Elevation Input File: Yarnell-Arizona.tif
    Vegetaion: Brush
    Mesh Resolution: Fine
    Time Zone: America/Phoenix

    Surface Input…

    Use Elevation Input File? ( YES )
    Use Diurnal Input? ( YES )

    Wind input…

    Domain Average Wind
    Use Custom Point Initialization Files?: NO
    Wind height: Custom 6 feet
    Wind speed: 30 mph
    Wind direction ( from ): 20 degrees
    NOTE: 0 = From true North, 270 = From due West )

    Output options…

    Output Height: Custom – 6 feet
    Format for: Google Earth ( KML output file )
    Line Width 1.0
    [ YES ] Legend – Uniform Range
    Resolution: [ YES ] Use Mesh Resolution ( 274.56 Meters )

    • Rocksteady says

      In teh world of fire behaviour work it is very common to do “point initialization, like WindNinja” for weather information. We call them “Cyber stations”. With weather stations being a significant distance apart at varying elevations and aspects, we will blend most accurate info from each station, representitive of the fire and create a blended Cyber Station. It is not 100% accurate, of course, but dependant on the location of the weather stations you are using, it can be relatively accurate for your fire location.

      For example, where I live, we have a weaterh station at the airport (1000 ft ASL), but within 10 miles we have peaks of over 9000′. We also have weather stations at over 5000′. By using the Airport and 5000′ station, you pick which weather attributes are most “accurate” based on field intel.

      It is more of the art of fire behaviour coming into play, rather than the science. On a large, expanded attack fire that we know is going to go on for a significant period of time, we will install a quick deploy weather station on hte fire site to give accurate weather info, to be analyzed and used to make fire behaviour predictions, including fire behaviour forecasts/advisories.

      So, in conclusion, it is not unheard of to massage data to attempt to improve accuracy..

      • Yavapai Co. Residents says

        Two days ago, I learned through MesoWest that February 2013, a new cooperative observer Wx station was acquired.

        It is in Peeples Valley and is E2144 (or sometimes EW2144).

        The SAIT use, I think, the cooperative observer Wx in Stanton, which is well below Yarnell Hill and is close to Congress. I don’t have a page number on me, but I did see the Stanton station in the SAIR as well as in the Wildfire Associates report that came out yesterday.

        However, when I showed the June 29 – June 30 data from the Peeples Valley Wx station to a friend who is a retired WFF and a consultant on WFF fatality incidents, that friend felt the Peeples Valley data was not accurate.

        You can go to this URL I saved to search for a see the Wx data I saw from the Peeples Valley station:


        Then find #47 on the map, and click the black dot to the right of #47. The result will be a popup window.

        Then, at the bottom of the popup window, click “Additional Tabular and Graphical Displays”.

        When that page displays, on the left side and down a bit you will see a link called “Change Date/Time”, click that link.

        On the “Change Date/Time” page, I selected 30 June 2013, and a time of 1700. The below URL is the data result:


        (You fire science experts on these Comments may already know about this; I posted for other, fellow lay people who are like me…trying to find out what happened to GMIHC.)

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        >> Rocksteady wrote…
        >> So, in conclusion, it is not unheard of to massage
        >> data to attempt to improve accuracy.

        Exactly. My point above was that, apparently, with these
        WindWizard and WindNinja products coming out of
        the Missoula Fire Science Labs…

        …you pretty much HAVE to do that in order to achieve
        graphic results that would look anything like what the
        SAIR published on page 79.

        The software just isn’t ‘smart enough’ to have come up
        with that ‘Wind Chart’ on page 79 of the SAIR.

        The impression, I think, for most people is that they
        somehow type in some wind speed and direction
        information, pushed a button, and Volia!… out comes
        that complicated graphic showing how the canyon
        turned into a chimney that day.

        That is absolutely NOT the case here.

        Their HAD to have been some pretty specific, detailed
        ‘point’ information added to the modeling run.

        So it’s more of a ‘telling the software what we want it
        to show’ situation than ‘let the software tell us what
        we don’t know’ situation.

        The Wind Chart on page 79 MIGHT be a good
        representation of ‘what happened that day’.

        Then again… it might NOT be.

        It all depends what data they typed in, and where
        that data came from.

        • rocksteady says

          Windninja and WindWizard work along the same process. They take weather readings at certain location and using algorithms (which may or may not be accurate) then it uses these algorithms to predict what the wind MAY be doing at certain locations at a certain time. The results are predicted by the algorithms as to how terrain and valley features would influence the wind.

          I know they are working on Ninja to confirm its accurracy…Right now its just a draft, work in progress. Is the wind they are predicting at ground level, 100′ above ground level or 500′ above ground level??? In the world of firefighting it makes all the difference.

          A lot also depends on the accuracy of the weather station information. Is the station a constant reading station (like an airport) or does it record data once or twice an hour? Is the stations anemometer accurate and calibrated?

          Then, of course, there could be algorithm issues that we can’t even see. When you hit the “run” button, how do we know that the correct calculations are even being done.

          It’s a tool, to be taken with a large grain of salt. Personally, I am skeptical until it is fully tested and validated..

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            >> Rocksteady wrote…
            >> Is the wind they are predicting at ground
            >> level, 100′ above ground level or 500′
            >> above ground level??? In the world of
            >> firefighting it makes all the difference.

            See my own ‘sample input data’ up above
            for the run I did that pretty much matches
            that ‘Wind Chart’ published in the SAIR.

            The software lets YOU decide what
            ‘heights above the ground’ to chart.

            I believe the default is about 100 feet, but
            those modeling runs beared no
            resemblance to the SAIR ‘Wind Chart’.

            So I started ‘reducing’ the altitude in
            10 foot increments. When I got down
            to 10 feet it started to look more like
            what the SAIR diagram shows.

            Turns out that at 6 feet above ground
            is when the modeling run started to look
            like a ‘perfect match’ for the SAIR chart.

            So I guess the SAIT wanted to show
            wind behavior at man-height level that
            day… and that’s the ‘modeling scenario’
            we see on page 79 of the SAIR.

            They still had to ‘make up’ some weather
            station ‘Point input’ for around the
            deployment site… but that input was
            probably typed in for the ‘man-height’
            level as well.

  28. mike says

    I think the ADOSH report highlights something that just has not been emphasized in press reports – the degree to which fire command lost control of the situation that afternoon. When it blew up faster and more extreme than they thought, everything went south. I think they thought they were going to lose citizens. I also think they thought they might lose firefighters, just not the ones they did. There have been hints at the panic at the command level (the Republic article on the Glen Ilah evacuations) that afternoon, but this report shows what a mess that afternoon was more so than before. They were behind the curve during this entire fire, and their resulting panic contributed to 19 hotshots messing up.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I know that Joy Collura has pointed this out a number of times…
      ( and she still wants some answers from someone ) but the
      more I look at ALL of the photographs she took that
      morning… I now share her ‘bewilderment’ how the fire that
      she saw up close ( and lived to talk about it ) and that she
      photographed in detail that MORNING could have possibly
      turned into the fire being photographed with news helicopters
      later that afternoon eating the town of Yarnell, AND killing

      When you look at ALL of Joy Collura’s photographs collectively
      from ‘early in the day’ it just doesn’t even seem POSSIBLE
      that it’s the same fire just some hours later ‘moonscaping’
      everything in its path.

      There were air drops going on ALL day… but all we hear now
      is how ‘frustrated’ Eric Marsh himself was with them ( and
      others, too ).

      It just seems like they kept dropping the red ‘retardant’ stuff
      all day in places where they ‘thought’ it might be headed ( which
      eventually didn’t seem to do much good that day at all ) instead
      of anyone making any kind of effort to actually put the damn
      thing OUT on ANY front… head or tail.

      I know that fighting a fire is all about ‘anchor points’ ( GM’s
      assignment ) and ‘preventing spread’ ( VLATS with red stuff )…

      …but shouldn’t all that also be accompanied by SOME effort
      to actually put the damn FLAMES that are already there OUT?.

      If you are spending $12,000 per hour for two DC10’s… can’t
      you order up one with the red stuff… and one that actually
      has some WATER in it?

      When wind changes are ‘expected’ for later in the day… it
      doesn’t take a genius to know that the ‘tail’ of the thing is
      going to become the ‘head’ later on.

      Why wasn’t there any big effort to get that ‘tail’ line PUT OUT
      early in the day… so that when the wind shifted later on
      all you would be left with is the old ‘head’ becoming the
      new ‘tail’… but it’s got nothing to burn but previous ‘black’.

      LOTS of questions still need to be answered here.

      Even if no one had died that day… this entire ‘Yarnell Hill Fire’
      thing might still be going down in the history books as…

      “How NOT to fight a fire”.

      • Rocksteady says


        Retardant is more effective than plain water.
        It not only stays wet longer than water, not evaporating as fast, but also the chemical composition, as it is reached by the flame front. Google Fire Retardant, it will explain the complex process.

        No matter what you toss out of an airplane onto a fire (Water/Water and Foam/Retardant/Water and Gel) it only knocks down the fire. The fire is not OUT, until the ground pounders come along and put it out. Whether that be by using pumps and hose, creating a fuel free line and letting it naturally consume everything, or by lighting it up and burning off….

        The old Chevy pickup truck commercial used to drive me nuts… “Fier is changing direction, threatening a crew, in comes air tanker, drops load on the fire… Final radio traffic “FIRE’s OUT, AND THE TRUCKS CLEAN”…..

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          I think the new ADOSH report makes it pretty
          clear that there simply WAS no real ‘plan’ that
          day at all… so it’s really not worth any more
          guessing about ‘why didn’t they do this’ or
          ‘why didn’t they do that’.

          From what I can tell now after reading the
          ADOSH detail… my grandmother would have
          done a better job handling that fire that day.

          NONE of these people involved with the
          Yarnell Hill Fire should actually ever be allowed
          to have a radio in their hands EVER again.

          Joy Collura has photographed all KINDS of
          aircraft over both the head and the tail of that
          fire that day.

          It sounds now like the fire would have been less
          of a monster by 4:30 PM if they had just let the
          air guys make up their own minds how to fight
          it and they had just issued a ‘drop at will’ order
          around 1:00 PM instead of 4:04 PM.

  29. Robert the Second says


    Fairly accurate conclusion regarding the legal morass that is in the offing Mr. WTKTT.

    Except that I take umbrage with this statement: “… and 17 of them were obliged to just ‘obey the orders’ of the 2 who were leading them.” They were NOT obliged to ‘obey the orders’ or any other oders if they were unsafe, illegal, immoral, or unethical.’ And in this case their orders were clearly unsafe.

    There were several men on that Crew that knew better or should have known better and disobeyed the order based on our Turn Down protocol without fear of losing their jobs. That’s why I keep suggesting Groupthink. Otherwise, it appears they went down into the bowl like lemmings.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I think the whole TD ( Turn Down ) ‘protocol’ itself is going to be
      at the heart of any actual legal proceedings over this.

      In this more-than-quasi military culture there IS a ‘difference’
      being established between what a normal ’employee’ should
      be able to do and what these guys were ‘expected’ to do.

      Anyone can always just say ‘f**k you’ to anyone… but you
      should also expect to lose your job.

      In this culture… I get the feeling everyone always lives in
      fear of either the ‘f**k you” moment… or having to invoke the
      TD protocol… because of some kind of culture-ingrained
      fear that you would giving up your ‘career’ instead of just
      some stupid job.

      That all needs to be examined in the light of day.

      It’s a dangerous JOB. I get it…

      …but it’s still just a JOB.

      It is NOT ‘the military’, no matter how hard the people in it
      like to pretend that it is.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      >> RTS
      >> Otherwise, it appears they went down into
      >> the bowl like lemmings.

      Well.. they pretty much DID… didn’t they?

      Except for one critical difference…

      …even lemmings KNOW they are going to die
      as they approach the cliff.

      It would be the whole ‘lemming’ and ‘Groupthink’ thing that
      needs to come under the microscope here… if people
      really ARE interested in saving lives in the future.

      I still think this incident calls for review of the ENTIRE
      WFF ‘culture’… before more ‘Groupthinkers’ walk
      off any more cliffs and leave any more widows and
      fatherless children.

      Order and discipline are one thing. Gotta be there.

      Knowing how to say “Are you out of your f**king MIND?”
      is something else altogether… and needs to be TAUGHT
      if someone doesn’t have the built-in sand for it.

      • Yavapai Co. Residents says

        “Emotions run high as relatives of firefighters react to report”


        “Dan Parker, a captain with the Chino Valley Fire District who lost his son Wade Parker in the fire, said it surprised him that there seemed to be so many operational missteps: safety and planning officers not showing up when expected, maps not given to firefighters, communications crossed.”

        “I get the impression sort of like our guys were out there on their own,” he said after the meeting. “When they realized that something needed to be done and they did it, it was too late.”

        Ashcraft put her hand to her head in disbelief when Krotenberg said he was blocked from speaking with one firefighting crew that was present on the scene and was restricted in questions he could ask a supervisor on the fire.

        “Why is it that someone could tell OSHA you can’t speak to them and you can’t ask them those things?” she said, sitting in the auditorium after the hearing ended.

        “I would have thought they would at least be able to reach the people we’ve not been able to or get the answers we’ve not been able to.”

        Ashcraft said she wasn’t ready to discuss whether she would bring legal action in her husband’s death, but she said it might be a way to get officials to talk.

        “Unfortunately, sometimes, those answers only come about once an issue is litigated,” she said. “Because otherwise, you can’t get the truth until you get those people (to talk) under penalty of perjury.”

        Again, why isn’t BRIHC talking?

        Anyone? Please, take a stab at my question, speculate, guess.

        Why isn’t BRIHC talking?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Why don’t we all just start ASKING them?

          Poor Blue Ridge Hotshots.

          They just went from the only people who
          seemed like they knew what they were doing
          that day…

          …to the people who now seem to have the
          most to HIDE.

          As far as I’m concerned… they are ALL
          ‘fair game’ now following their documented
          behavior with regards to the ADOSH

          From IHC’s own (public) website…

          Blue Ridge IHC
          Coconino NF
          Mogollon District
          8738 Ranger Road
          Happy Jack, AZ 86024

          Duty location for crew: Happy Jack, AZ

          Brian Frisby, Superintendent
          Email: [email protected]
          (928) 477-5023

          Rogers Trueheart Brown, Assistant Superintendent
          Email: [email protected]
          (928) 477-5024

          Travis Fuller, Squad Boss
          Email: [email protected]
          (928) 477-5027

          Michael Gordon, Squad Boss
          Email: [email protected]
          ( 928) 477-5027

          Cory Ball, Squad Boss
          (928) 477-5022
          Email: [email protected]

          Blue Ridge Hotshots FAX number…
          (928) 477-5057 (Fax)

  30. Yavapai Co. Residents says

    WTKTT, thank you again. Yesterday, I discovered that even the COP FFs and the GMIHC have to have their wildland fire task books approved and signed off by the ASFD.

    Specifically, by the Arizona State Wildfire Qualification Review Committee. Sue xx is the Training Specialist who oversees the task book process.

    The Committee’s URL is:

    On that page are PDFs of Committee Meeting Minutes. I read a few last night, and they include long lists of names of FFs throughout Arizona, the specific task book each is working on, and their status in the process.

    So, again, it sounds like the state of AZ is on the hook for this as well, and not the City of Prescott.

    I do have many years of Human Resources experience. When the GMIHC were contracted by ASFD to work the Yarnell Hill Fire under a cooperative agreement, they became “employees” of the state of Arizona for that incident, hence the ADOSH investigation into “wrongful death”, and stating how GMIHC’s “employer”, the ASFD, failed to provide that safe work environment.

    For that, the City of Prescott is not liable.

    The City of Prescott has lots of other issues, but they were not the official, contractual incident managers of the GMIHC on 6/30. ASFD, and only ASFD, was.

    I need to log off and get some sleep now.

    However, I have enjoyed your previous thread above about the BRIHC, and believe that is a thread to dig into deeper.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      YCR… as you have just pointed out… things get VERY
      complicated, legally speaking… but the financial consequences
      are VERY real for WHOEVER is involved here.

      We lost 19 of some of the best and brightest among us, for
      what appears to be no damn good ( or even sane ) reason…
      and the families not only deserve to know what REALLY
      happened… they deserve to be fully compensated for
      their (preventable) loss(es).

      I will correct you on one thing, though.

      The initial request for GM IHC was NOT fulfilled through
      ‘normal’ channels. It took a ‘special request’ ( some phone
      calls and some emails ) to get them ‘contracted’ for the
      fire the next day. That, itself, is unusual and will come into
      play for any legal proceedings.

      That being said… these men did not ‘technically’ become
      ’employees’ for the State of Arizona the next day.

      They became ‘subcontractors’.

      There is, in fact, a difference… legally speaking.

      They were still ’employed’ by the City of Prescott.
      That’s the name that appears on their paychecks at all times.
      The 17 young men who were led to their deaths by the
      other 2 who they were obliged to ‘obey’ were most
      certainly still ‘working for the City of Prescott’ that day.

      The City of Prescott, the prime ‘subcontractor’, submits
      ‘billable hours’ for them and then the City Manager of
      Prescott gets the ‘check’ from the State of Arizona.

      Very complicated, legally speaking.

      But yes… go and read the first ‘wrongful death’ suit claim
      that has been filed.

      It names a lot of people as ‘defendants’… but the BIG THREE are…

      State of Arizona
      Yavapai County ( YOUR County, I assume )
      City of Prescott

      The ‘claim’ is seeking at least $12 million in damages from
      EACH of these main defendants ( $36 million total ).

      If the attorneys representing ALL the ‘defendants’ opt to
      take the ‘sum certain’ exit route… then the plaintiff has
      agreed to just a ‘single sum’ of 12 million.

      That could come from the State of Arizona ( and probably
      would ) since even just 12 million is a pretty big hit on either
      a City Municipal or even a County budget.

      So it really is all about ‘the money’ at this point ( unfortunately ).

      The WFF community just wants to know EXACTLY what
      happened in order to try and save lives in the future.

      The people who might have to ‘pay up’ don’t have that
      same goal. They could care less who dies in the future so
      long as they don’t have to pay a lot of money THIS time.

  31. Yavapai Co. Residents says

    WTKTT, thank you for your thoughtful and concise reply. We’re just area residents who care, and after we read what the ADOSH report stated about BRIHC, well, the first thing that came to mind was: “What are they, BRIHC, hiding?” And, we felt sad to think that because we respect and honor all WFFs in all agencies for the hard work they do in our communities.

    I don’t have a legal background, and I do very much appreciate your clear explanation above.

    However, BRIHC’s reticence to assist any investigation (encouraged by their attorneys?) creates the appearance to the general public that they have something to hide.

    If they don’t have anything to hide, why not discuss the events of that day with ADOSH to help with the Lessons Learned needed by their fellow WFF brothers and sisters?

    Robert the Second replied that it’s a “typical ‘gag order’ maneuver by the feds”.

    Is that true?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      YCR… for the ‘powers that be’ here…

      …it’s simply about the money.

      They HAVE to let the ‘lawyers’ control ‘the story’ here ( for now ).
      They can’t afford NOT to.

      Planes just don’t fall out of the sky.
      Trains just don’t run off tracks.
      19 (supposedly) trained firefighters just don’t walk into a wall of
      flames in broad daylight and die.

      Something went terribly wrong for men in an Arizona State
      and City of Prescott Municipal sponsored (salaried) workplace

      This was an ’employment’ related incident.

      There are ’employers’ involved here, and regardless of any
      normally ever-present danger in the nature of the work
      itself… if any loss of life can be attributed to misconduct,
      negligence, improperly implemented safety procedures,
      falsified paperwork, incompetence or even just plain stupidity…

      That’s called ( in legal circles ) ‘wrongful death’.

      The situation is unique in that the Granite Mountain Hotshots
      were the ONLY Type 1 IHC Hotshot Crew in the country
      that was ‘wholly owned and operated’ by a simple City Municipal
      Fire Department ( The City of Prescott Fire Department ).

      The men who died were simply EMPLOYED by the City
      of Prescott. If there were any ‘training’ issues, or proof of
      falsified certification documents ( that seems to be true
      already ), or proof of incompetence on the part of squad
      bosses or leaders that day who were charged with the
      safety of 17 other men… then the financial burden could rest
      solely on the City of Prescott.

      The first ‘wrongful death’ claim for this incident has already
      been filed. It is (for the next 60 days, anyway) what is called
      a ‘sum-certain claim’. That means for 60 days… they can just
      pay the fixed sum of $12 million to this family of just one of
      the 19 firefighters ‘make it go away’… or then it goes to court
      ( and ALL the evidence from that day finally comes out ) and
      the damages awarded could be astronomically higher than that.

      If they just pay the $12 million to ‘make this one suit go away’,
      OR anyone actually ADMITS what the ‘real’ cause of the
      accident was and it turns out to not be pretty…
      then here come the other 18 sum-certain claims right away…
      probably for the same amount(s), if not more.

      All those men died together… and 17 of them were obliged
      to just ‘obey the orders’ of the 2 who were leading them.

      They all died TOGETHER… under the same circumstances.

      If fault is found for just ONE of the deaths… then that fault
      automatically applies to every single other death.

      The entire estimated financial resources available to the city of
      Prescott, Arizona for the year 2014 is $230,161,910.

      19 ‘wrongful death’ sum-certain claims settled out of court at
      $12 million each is $228,000,000.

      That will leave them only $2 million to run the entire city.

      They will have to ‘turn the lights out’ in Prescott.

      If they do NOT ‘settle out of court’… and the damage awards
      go higher than 12 million per family ( and they easily could )…

      Prescott, Arizona, will simply be ‘up for sale’ on Ebay.

  32. Robert the Second says

    Yavapai Co. Residents,

    Most likely, the BRHS were told NOT to participate by their Agency, a fairly typical ‘gag order’ manuever by the Feds. They were not even allowed copies of their own statements by the SAIT.


    I agree with you that it was fairly common knowledge because of all the radios there and that’s what they were scanning and talking about as well, not to mention phone calls and texts and all. They could see it all from their SZ in the good black. And the AZ OSHA report revealed that one of the OPS queried GMHS if they had anyone available to assist in that endeavor.

    Hot Shots especially don’t use the evacuation term much because it’s strictly law enforcement that enforces it. I’m sure

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The radio channels were all starting to pack up with chatter
      circa 1600 as everyone realized it was time to get out of
      dodge… so I’m not saying that Wade’s message to his
      mother about ‘jus startin to evac’ came SPECIFICALLY from
      some ‘secret’ radio communication that might be what was
      ‘cut out’ of the MacKenzie video…

      …but then again…

      …maybe it DID.

      Something is bad wrong when here it is, MONTHS later, and
      we still don’t have a full recounting of who even MIGHT have
      been on the radio with other people at certain times… or NOT.

  33. Yavapai Co. Residents says

    WantsToKnowTheTruth, thank you for keeping the questions coming. I have been lurking here, and am coming into the light today to ask you/everyone a sincere question: What do you all think about the USDA Forestry Service and the Blue Ridge IHC refusing to cooperate with the ADOSH investigation, even with federal OSHA’s Phoenix office assistance? Instead the told ADOSH to “file a Touhy request”. And referring ADOSH to federal General Counsel? And, that what materials BRIHC did provide to ADOSH were so redacted that ADOS said they were “useless” (could not use)?

    Thoughts anyone?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I think they have good lawyers… and that they have been letting
      them run the show since the day after the incident.

      It’s actually a very touchy ‘jurisdictional’ issue with any OSHA
      agency when they try to investigate anything. Any OSHA body
      is not what lawyers would call a ‘prosecutory authority’, so
      lawyers can always advise their clients that as long as you
      stay just short of any ‘impeding an investigation’ charges…
      you can treat them like the ‘press’ and try and pick and
      choose what they have the ‘right to know’.

      OSHA can’t file any criminal charges. They can only investigate
      a workplace related incident and deliver findings, and impose
      some tightly restricted fines or remedies.

      So it’s not like being interviewed by the District Attorney, or
      some other ‘prosecutory authority’. You can still just ‘play
      the game’, so to speak, and walk that fine line between
      actually HELPING them discover the truth ( which is their
      job ) but not be accused of ‘impeding a state/federal
      investigation’, which COULD carry some actual jail time.

      People who feel they have something to hide are usually
      very good at hiding it… and lawyers are even better than they
      are at it when that’s what you pay them do do.

      That’s just a fact.

      I think it would be better, at this point, for everyone to just come
      out and tell “the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help
      them God.” It could save lives in the future, which is what
      I think everyone SHOULD want here.

      This whole “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we
      practice to deceive” thing just ain’t workin’ out for ’em.

  34. says

    This sentence jumped out at me:

    “At approximately 1600, Operations Section Chief Paul Musser radioed Granite Mountain IHC to ask if they could assist at Yarnell. Either Marsh or Granite Mountain IHC Captain Jesse Steed replied they could not and suggested he contact Blue Ridge IHC.” Page 15 “Worksheets for Proposed Citations”

    Second key point is that the DIV Z Supervisor (most likely Rance Marquez) abandoned his position.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      See just above. At least this might explain Wade Parker’s text to
      his mother when he told her ‘jus starting to evac’ ( Yarnell ).

      Maybe this is the (previously) undocumented conversation
      between fire command and Marsh/Steed during the
      mysterious ‘discussing their options’ conversation at
      the same time ( 1600 ish ).

      Might even be the still-mysterious ‘third voice’ that can
      be heard saying “You bet” over the radio in the MacKenzie

      None of those men up on that ridge at 1600 could SEE
      Yarnell ‘jus starting to evac’, as Wade Parker told his mother
      at 1604 ( 4:04 PM ).

      Someone had to be on the radio TELLING them that was now
      happening down there.

      So Wade Parker heard that… and that’s what he passed on
      to his mother.

      Brendan McDonough would have also heard ALL of this,
      and he is still very much alive to clear all this up, if he
      would only choose to do so.

    • mike says

      Wow, I missed that. The “discussing their options” conversation was at 1602 I thought. So could they be reconsidering helping OPS1 out in that conversation – “I’ve known this was coming all day”. I guess the SAIT thought this little detail was irrelevant. I have come to believe that the initiating event was a request and not an order. I think they the fire command was overwhelmed and was trying to round up help where they could. Did he also ask BR and the BR super turn him down, hence all the BR guys in the parking lot. But the BR super did decide to help himself (but not risk his men). Just some random thoughts.

      Has anyone been able to decipher exactly what Steed says the last time he speaks in the MacKenzie video? I think I hear the word “walk”, but have a feeling what he says might be important and I am not sure what that is.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        mike… here’s a ‘continuation of your thought’…

        Why in the heck would even OPS1 think to ask
        GM if they could help… when all we are told over and
        over is that “he had put them out of his mind because
        he knew they were safe way out west in the black and
        he had much more important things to worry about.”

        Where in the world would this guy even get the idea
        that, with plenty of other professional firefighters right
        there on Shrine road and Highway 89… he would
        need to even ask some fellas out in the boondocks if
        they could get all the way back to town ( 2 miles ).

        Here comes the OMG moment…

        What if OPS1 had ALREADY asked Blue Ridge… and
        Brian Frisby said “Nope. That’s not what we do.”?

        Maybe OPS1 really felt like some ‘Hotshots’ would help,
        but the ones that were right there in town and from
        4:00 PM onward would only be photographed multiple
        times just standing around ‘doing nothing’ had
        ALREADY ‘turned him down’.

        Here’s the other clincher…

        What if THAT is why the ‘Blue Ridge Hotshots’ are
        all ‘lawyered up’ and have (apparently) been refusing
        to fully cooperate with the investigation(s)?

        Maybe they are just following their own lawyer’s advice
        and trying to stay out of ‘liability’ land just like everyone
        else involved with this fiasco seems to be doing.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Just a quick followup to my own post just above.

          Report says…

          :: At approximately 1600, Operations Section
          :: Chief Paul Musser radioed Granite Mountain
          :: IHC to ask if they could assist at Yarnell.
          :: Either Marsh or Granite Mountain IHC Captain
          :: Jesse Steed replied they could not and
          :: suggested he contact Blue Ridge IHC.

          Notice that it doesn’t say ANYTHING about
          whether Musser had ALREADY ‘contacted
          Blue Ridge’ before even making that request.

          That was either Marsh’s or Steed’s natural
          reaction to the request… but maybe Musser
          didn’t mention he had ALREADY tried that
          before even ‘asking’ them.

          Is there still a missing part to that conversation?

          Was the next thing Musser said something
          like this…

          “Eric… ( and/or Jesse )… I already tried that.
          Frisby said ‘that’s not what we do’ and won’t
          help with the evacuations… so that’s why
          I was wondering if there’s any chance you
          guys could at least get over to Glen Ilah and
          maybe help out.”

          Then here comes the ‘comfort level’ discussion
          partially captured on the MacKenzie video… and
          then the death march.

          Had they (Marsh/Steed) already been informed
          that the ‘other’ Hotshots weren’t going to lift a
          finger, even after being asked… and that just
          amplified their own reluctance to (also) say “No”?

          Quick question for firefighters ( and current or
          former Hotshots ) then…

          What would the repercussions be like in the
          WFF business if it became common knowledge
          that a Hotshot crew was ASKED to “go try and
          help save people”… and they actually said
          “Nope… that’s not what we do?”.

          Would they start finding women’s underwear
          attached to the side-mirrors of their Crew
          Carriers at the next fire they showed up on,
          or something equally crass/juvenile?

          I would think that would be something that
          that crew would NEVER want to become
          ‘public knowledge’…

          …and I am talking about BOTH ‘Blue Ridge’
          AND ‘Granite Mountain’ here. Maybe Brian
          Frisby didn’t give a crap what anyone was
          going to think… but maybe the only Hotshot
          Crew run by a Municipal Fire Department that
          had already been ‘harassed’ at previous fires
          cared very much what ‘people might think’.

    • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

      This this the first bit of information to be found anywhere, that indicates ‘someone’ was in contact with GM in regards to their possibly moving to Yarnell to help out. With the time frame reported, this sure fits with the documented decision making with-in the crew that was going on at that time, making it appear that they finally relented from their initial refusal, and moved toward town.

      Pushing that decision, in the back of their minds was the knowledge that they had already made apparently bad decisions in parking their vehicles and placing their look-out, so they were probably motived to help in Yarnell and try and end their day on a good note.

      That one sentence in the OSHA report may finally answer the question as to ‘WHY’.

      • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

        This this the first bit of information to be found anywhere, that indicates ‘someone’ was in contact with GM in regards to their possibly moving to Yarnell to help out. With the time frame reported, this sure fits with the documented decision making with-in the crew that was going on at that time, making it appear that they finally relented from their initial refusal, and moved toward town.

        Pushing that decision, in the back of their minds was the knowledge that they had already made apparently bad decisions in parking their vehicles and placing their look-out, so they were probably motived to help in Yarnell and try and end their day on a good note.

        That one sentence in the OSHA report may finally answer the question as to ‘WHY’.

        • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

          My above comment was one that was stuck in moderation for a while, and which I originally tried to post under John Dougherty’s comment about the ‘new’ info provided in the OSHA report regarding OPs asking GM if they could get over to Yarnell to help.

        • calvin says

          Darrell Willis said “We heard they were headed in a southerly direction.” They were not moving to Yarnell. Basically, only to Boulder Springs Ranch

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          The ADOSH now tells us that Granite Mountain’s FAILURES
          continued throughout most of the day. ADOSH supplies much
          more detail about what they were ACTUALLY doing out there
          that day, about Marsh’s frustration with the drops… and how
          that frustration actually caused GM to have to ‘change plans’
          at least once.

          The ADOSH also now points out another particularly BAD
          failure on their part later in the afternoon.

          If there was any ‘plan’ for what they were doing at all up
          there that day… we now learn that it was to supposedly
          ‘tie in’ that anchor point with a burnoff back to the
          two-track they walked in on… and eventually with a major
          burn-off of the ‘dozer line’ to provide a massive fire break
          all the way from Sesame and on up to ridge.

          They were asked late in the day when they would be
          finished doing their part of that… and Steed said they
          were still an hour away from being near done with that.

          That was a failure point, again.

          They needed to have been done by THEN, or there
          was no time left and no way to even perform the original plan.

          The ‘burnoff of the dozer line out to anchor point’ never
          happened. The plan was abandoned circa 1555.

          So there they sat ‘in the black’… looking at nothing but
          failures and poor decision making on their part for pretty
          much the entire day.

          So you are right… maybe all these cumulative ‘failures’
          and ‘screw ups’ that day influenced their decision making.

          Maybe saying ‘no’ to the request from OPS2 ( Musser )
          just started to stick in their craw and they didn’t want
          even that failure to be able to help to be the final
          failure of the day for them.

          Remember… this is a crew that has been known to be
          ‘made fun of’ by other members of the WFF community
          at other fires. They had a ‘chip on their shoulder’ already.

          Maybe they were really worried about all their failures that
          day being the only ‘story’ of GM involvement with the
          Yarnell Hill Fire.

          They saw a chance to ‘redeem themselves’ and not get
          made fun of again.

          It’s possible.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            NOTE: This was meant to be a ‘Reply’ to TTWARE’s original
            mainline comment just above… but showed up here as a new
            thread post instead.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Hmmm… something a little weird going on with the forum software.
              I have tried to leave two ‘Replies’ now and even though the input
              boxes appear normally where they should… the posting comes
              out as a ‘new’ comment on the mainline thread.

              Maybe we have just exceeded the software limits!

              • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

                WTKTT, On a technical note, how do you copy and paste on here without it getting all screwed up?

                • The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

                  WTKTT, I see what you mean about the reply buttons, as my previous ‘query’ to you was as a reply under your comment, and it too, came out as a ‘new’ comment.

                  • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                    TTWARE… this is supposed to be a simple ‘Reply’ to your “I see what you mean” message above. The ‘Reply’ input box is appearing right now as I type in the right place. We will see if it actually shows up in the right place a ‘Reply’ should… or whether it just appears as a new mainline thread message instead.

                    There MIGHT be what is called a ‘nesting level’ limit for this software and the number of ‘Replies’ on this thread might have pushed it over that limit. If that’s the case… then I guess my only advice would be for everyone to be SURE and just say, at the start of your replies, WHO you are replying TO… and just a quick reference to the message being replied to.

                    Something like…

                    TTWARE: Re: Your message about Replies…

                  • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                    TTWARE: Re: Your message about ‘cutting and pasting’

                    >> TTWARE wrote…
                    >> WTKTT, On a technical note, how do you copy and paste
                    >> on here without it getting all screwed up?

                    Well… not sure what you mean. Works OK most of the time
                    for me… just be sure not to include the top DATE banner
                    of a message in your ‘cut and paste’. It has some HTML
                    formatting characters in it that you can’t see.

                    In general… just remember that these input boxes are what
                    are called HTML ‘textareas’. That means the RETURN (Enter)
                    key still works fine… and will NOT ‘send’ the message when
                    you hit it. It will, in fact, put a Carriage Return / Line Feed into
                    the text exactly where you want it… so you can freely ‘format’
                    the cut-and-pastes exactly the way you want to.

                    The ONLY time your input will END and the post is actually
                    send will be by clicking the ‘Post Comment’ button down
                    there on the bottom right of the input area.

                    So fee free to use manual RETURN (Enter) key to help you
                    format your post(s).

  35. Robert the Second says

    Check out Human Factors specialist Ted Putnam’s paper titled ‘Up In Smoke’ regarding all the cover-ups and whitewashes.

    Search for “Ted Putnam Human Factors Up In Smoke”

    Everytime I try and post the link it disappears into cyberspace.

  36. mike says

    Remember Jerry Payne, from the Forestry Service, when he came out and pointed the finger directly at Eric Marsh. He was lamblasted then, mainly for jumping the gun on the investigation. That sort of public talk was quickly quieted. Now that the Forestry Service is facing getting this hung around their necks, I suspect there will be more public pushback, including a willingness to criticize the actions of the GMHS. I do not know where this will lead, but the days of “nobody did anything wrong” are long gone.

  37. Robert the Second says

    WTKTT and Mike,

    When Wade Parker texted his mother that “This thing is running straight for yarnel. jus starting to evac you can see fire on the left town on right. …” he is referring to the EVACUTATION OF YARNELL and other commmunities, NOT the GMHS. Crews don’t ‘evacuate’ their positions. We always used the phrase ‘moving out’ and other Crews would’ve used something like that. Structures and towns deal are evacuated, not Hot Shot Crews..

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Fair enough. I buy that. I actually forgot to ask that crucial
      question in my previous post.

      How often do Hotshots even use the word ‘evacuate’?
      Apparently, not much… so that puts much more weight
      into your interpretation of Wade’s remark than mine.

      But even your interpretation TELLS us something.

      It tells us that Wade ( and everyone else listening to the
      radio around that time, including McDonough ) DID hear
      everything that was being said between Steed, Marsh,
      and whoever else participated in that conversation.

      You could not SEE Yarnell ‘jus starting to evac’ from
      where Wade was standing.

      That means he was just passing information along to his
      mother that he just heard over the radio.

      Someone participated in that ‘discussing their options’
      conversation who KNEW the evacuations were ‘just
      starting’… passed that on to Steed and Marsh over
      the radio… and Parker heard it and passed that fact
      on to his mother.

      Was that Willis? ( Structure Protection Coordinator that day ),
      or is there still some undocumented radio conversation
      between OPS1 and Marsh/Steed around that time?

      Someone TOLD them the evacuations were ‘jus starting’.

      I wonder who that was… and how long they stayed on the
      radio for the REST of the mysterious ‘discussing their
      options’ conversation?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Speaking of ‘evacuations’…

      At 4:04 p.m., Wade Parker ‘texted’ his mother that photograph
      from the same location as the MacKenzie photos / videos.
      That’s the photograph that was used as Figure 9 on page 24
      of the SAIR.

      He also sent a text message along with it that has been widely
      reported by the media…

      He ( Parker ) said…

      “This thing is running straight for yarnel. jus starting to evac.
      you can see fire on the left town on right. DO NOT POST THIS

      I suppose he just didn’t want that photo to get out ‘ahead’
      of the fire command’s job that day and start a ‘panic’.

      However… I don’t think enough has been made of the small
      piece of insight that Wade accidentally provided in his
      text message.

      He said…

      “…jus starting to evac.”

      He did NOT say…

      “We’re going to go protect a ranch”
      “We’re going to go protect Glen Ilah”
      “Somebody ordered us back to town.”

      All he says is…

      “We are EVACUATING now”.

      We can hear in the MacKenzie videos that the mysterious
      “discussing their options” and “comfort level” discussion
      that took place between Steed and Marsh circa 4:00 PM
      happened over the RADIO… and Steed was not ‘off in some
      corner’ with the radio turned down for that.

      EVERYONE on that crew heard EVERYTHING that was
      discussed during that radio conversation ( including Brendan
      McDonough ).

      So it’s not like Steed removed himself from their hearing while
      some ‘secret plan’ was devised over the open radio channel…
      and then management turned to the troops and LIED to them
      about why they needed to ‘move out’.

      If Parker used the word ‘evac’ ( Evacuation ), then that MUST
      be what he heard and what he thought the reasoning was for
      the move and why he chose to use that word in his text to
      his mother.

      So did Granite Mountain really not BELIEVE they were
      ‘safe’ up there in the black? Did Steed and Marsh REALLY
      believe they NEEDED to ‘evacuate’… that they somehow would
      not have been ‘safe’ if the fire charged their current position…
      and that’s all there was to it?

      MANY firefighters have now seen the pictures of that ‘good black’
      up on that ridge and the massive SIZE of it at the time… and
      all seem to agree there was no question that was ‘good black’…

      …but this whole ‘mystery’ isn’t about what anyone still alive
      believes. It’s about what two dead men may have
      believed ( Steed and Marsh ).

      All of the mysteries still remain about them acting like some
      kind of ‘Black-Ops’ team skulking around in the back country
      and not WANTING anyone to know exactly where they were…

      …but perhaps the MOTIVATION was exactly what Wade
      Parker texted to his mother.

      They thought they were performing a warranted ‘evacuation’
      from an ‘unsafe area’.

      Brendan McDonough knows the answer here.
      He’s just not saying.

      • mike says

        I thought he was referring to the town evacuating, which would mean something entirely different as far as motivation. Hard to know which I suppose. Anybody see any reason that Marsh would have thought the position in the black was not safe?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          See below. I think you and RTS are much more right
          about this than I am.

          We also are now learning, from information just
          coming out today, that there was, apparently,
          some participation by OPS1 ( Paul Musser? )
          in this mysterious ‘discussing their options’
          conversation circa 1600 ( 4:00 ) PM.

          Then maybe HE was the one ‘informing’ these
          men on the ridge that Yarnell was now
          ‘jus starting to evac’, as Wade Parker told his
          mother just 4 minutes later ( 1604 – 4:04 PM ).

          Maybe Musser is also that mysterious ‘third voice’
          saying “You bet!” over the radio channel in the
          MacKenzie video.

          Maybe what they were doing by ‘editing’ the
          MacKenzie video was simply trying to wipe out
          all audio evidence that OPS1 was a participant
          in that ‘discussing their options’ conversation…
          but they simply missed him saying “You bet!”
          in the video clips they DID allow to surface.

  38. mike says

    Write-up in the Az Republic now. Places significant blame on fire command (failure to evacuate firefighters from dangerous situation in a timely fashion). I will have to leave it to the firefighters here to give their opinion on whether this is a justified finding. How would this affect battling wildfires in the future?

  39. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    ** NEW VIDEO

    I have uploaded another video to a public YouTube account that contains a
    Google Earth 3D ‘eye-level’ walk along the high ridge two-track road that
    GM hiked from the ‘Lunch Spot’ to the ‘Descent Point’.

    The ‘high terrain resolution’ feature of Google Earth 3D was used for all the
    eye-level views in the video.

    The journey begins at 4:04 PM at what the SAIR has established as the
    ‘Lunch Spot’ and continues on to the point where the SAIR says they
    descended into the box canyon at 4:20 PM.

    For each MINUTE of the walk south… the video has a ‘time marker’ on the
    trail to show approximately where they must have been each minute
    along the way that afternoon.

    At each of those MINUTE markers… the ‘camera’ turns to the east for a
    moment to show the exact eye-level view of the ‘middle bowl’ that they would
    have had at each point along the way. This is a pretty good way to just
    ‘see what they saw’ all along that hike that afternoon.

    NOTE: It’s pretty much been established that the MacKenzie photos/videos
    circa 4:02 PM and the final Wade Parker photo taken at 4:04 PM were NOT
    shot at the exact point that the SAIR has established as the ‘Lunch Spot’…
    but since that is the point they ( the SAIT ) apparently used to establish
    the ‘times’ they have published in their report… I stuck with their choice for
    the ‘Lunch Spot’, anyway, as the starting point for this ‘trail walk’.

    The video actually has TWO parts.

    The FIRST part is more of a ‘fly-over’ ( not at eye-level ) of the trail
    marked with the time stamps. It also ‘flies’ down into the canyon
    and on to the deployment site. The first part then ‘reverses’, flies
    back up the canyon and over the time-stamped trail again… and
    back to the ‘Lunch Spot’.

    The SECOND part is the ‘eye-level trail walk’. It starts at about 3:15.
    The ‘camera’ shows the trail right in front of you as you walk along
    to each of the ‘minute’ markers… and then turns to the east at each
    and every marker to see what the eye-level ‘view’ out towards the fire
    would have been like at that point.

    Here is the link to the video…

    Video Title: Fly-through with time markers then eye-level trail walk


    NOTE: At about 7:53 in the video, when you finally reached the 4:20 PM
    ‘Descent Point’, the eye-level camera turns south and you can clearly see
    that there would have been NO WAY for them to tell, at ground level, that the
    road they were on would eventually turn east and take them to the Boulder
    Springs Ranch. There was a large hill just due south of the ‘Descent Point’
    that was blocking their view of where that road actually went. If they did not
    already have the ‘situational awareness’ to KNOW that the road would
    eventually take them to the ranch, then there was no way to obtain that
    knowledge just by ‘looking around’ at the 4:20 PM ‘Descent Point’.


    The big question that this video tries to address…

    Did they have good ‘eyes on the fire’ down in that ‘middle bowl’ at various
    times on their hike south from the ‘Lunch Spot’ to the ‘Descent Point’?

    Here would be my ‘votes’ ( your mileage may vary )…

    4:04 PM: Yes
    4:05 PM: Yes
    4:06 PM: Yes
    4:07 PM: Yes
    4:08 PM: Yes
    4:09 PM: Yes
    4:10 PM: Yes
    4:11 PM: Yes
    4:12 PM: Yes
    4:13 PM: Yes
    4:14 PM: Yes
    4:15 PM: Yes
    4:16 PM: Yes
    4:17 PM: Yes
    4:18 PM: Yes
    4:19 PM: No
    4:20 PM: No

    So, as far as I can tell from here ( and with this ground level walk of the
    two-track ) they should really have not lost pretty good ‘eyes on the fire’
    until 4:19 PM, just before they reached the point where they descended
    into the box canyon.

    Caveat: There is a large ‘mound’ off in the distance right in the center of
    what the SAIR is choosing to call the ‘middle bowl’. It is hard to tell how that
    ‘mound’ may have ALSO been obstructing their view of the advancing
    fireline. I am now going to overlay the actual ‘fire line’ advancement times
    and positions ( according to the SAIR ) onto the floor of the middle bowl and
    that should provide some more clues about what they may or may not have
    been able to see ‘out there’ as they walked south.

    Please ( anyone ) feel free to disagree with me on any of this.

    That’s the point of this exercise… to determine whether a Google Earth
    3D reproduction of this walk they took, and the views they might have had,
    is in any way ‘accurate’.

    Here is the ‘About’ information that was also uploaded with the VIDEO…


    This is a fly-through of the hike the Granite Mountain Hotshots
    took from the ‘Lunch Spot’ reported in the SAIR to the point where
    they descended into the box canyon on June 30, 2013. There are
    time markers for their approximate location at each minute along the
    route, starting at 4:04 PM until they reached the descent point
    at 4:20 PM ( according to the SAIR ). The video then flies ‘down and
    back’ to the deployment site for a moment, then back to the
    ‘Lunch Spot’ again. The second half of the video ( starting at
    about 3:15 ) is an actual eye-level walk along the same ridge trail.
    The ‘camera’ turns to the east at each 1 minute interval along the
    way to show the view that anyone walking that two-track road would
    have actually had that day all during the hike south. The satellite
    terrain data used for this video was obtained on April 9, 2013, just
    82 days before the Yarnell incident.

  40. Rocksteady says

    I have my fingers crossed that this report will blow the whole whitewash wide open… Doubt it, but still hoping, for the sake of the families of the lost. They deserve to know WHY!!!

  41. mike says

    Multiple sources reporting citations/penalties recommended against the state forestry service. No further details. Could be significant or not. Sounds like someone is going to be taken to task, but whether it will shed light on what happened is not yet known. I’m pessimistic that a government regulatory agency will do the job of getting to the bottom of this. More faith in certain media or law enforcement.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      This is all about saving lives in the future. Every little citation,
      penalty, or (hopefully) new piece of truth about what REALLY
      happened that day… will help do that.

      • mike says

        You are right. Even addressing issues that were not the primary causal factor that day might save lives. But from initial reports, it sounds like there will be no insight into the sentinel issue. I agree with Sonny and Joy. Somebody knows something, and someday they won’t be able to live with it anymore.

  42. mike says

    According to Arizona media, OSHA investigators to present report to commissioners on Wednesday. Do not know if will be made public then. I have a sinking feeling this will be more of the same.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Arizona’s OSHA board is managed totally by the ICA
      ( Industrial Commission of Arizona ).

      Normally… all business conducted at an ICA ( Industrial
      Commission of Arizona ) commission meeting is SUPPOSED
      to be ‘public’…

      …but the ICA commissioners have the right to request that any
      item on their agenda be discussed in ‘private’ or ‘executive’
      session. If a certain number of commissioners agree… then
      the public minutes will be silent about that part of the meeting
      and no one gets to hear what was said.

      I’ve read a lot of the ‘minutes’ from previous meetings and
      the ‘private session’ is usually reserved for personnel or
      financial matters… but they can actually vote to go into
      and out of ‘private’ or ‘executive’ session just about any time
      during any meeting for just about anything they want.

      I wonder if they will just do that, this time.

      The main (official) web page for AOSHA is here…


      Their meetings are public, and take place 2.-3 times per month.

      You can see what their own discussion of their own
      investigator’s report to ‘the commission’ will look like by
      reading any of the prior ‘minutes’ of any meeting.

      Investigators present report(s) on any particular incident,
      then commissioners then discuss recommended ‘actions’
      like sanctions or fines.

      On the menu on the left side of the page at the site
      above… just pick this sequence…

      Second option from the top of menu…

      Commission Meetings

      Then pick either ‘Agendas’ or ‘Minutes’.

      Each copy of the minutes of the last commission meeting
      always ends with reminding the commissioners exactly
      when the NEXT (public) meeting takes place.

      I don’t see how they could possibly NOT find that A LOT of
      things were SERIOUSLY wrong with this ‘workplace environment’
      that day… and the handling of this entire fire in general… but I
      guess we shall see.

  43. The Truth Will Always Remain Elusive says

    WTKTT, I’m playing a bit of catch-up in reading these posts. I have a comment regarding a supposition you made 2-3 weeks ago, and I’m posting it here so it won’t get lost under long-ago posts. You made a reference to a positive id of Darrell Willis’ white pick-up at the cafe. Without yet reading all the posts between that one and this one, in the one’s prior, I was unable to ascertain how and when that positive id was made. I would just caution you that the Prescott Fire Department has several of those white trucks, some of them seemingly identical. It could have belonged to another PFD employee assigned to the fire.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      TTWARE… You are right… PFD has MORE than just one
      of those all-white extended cabs. If you go into ‘Street View’
      using Google and look down the driveway at the back
      parking lot of the Prescott Fire Station… there are at
      least ( only? ) TWO sitting there by the dumpster.

      When I made what I thought was the ‘definite ID’ on Willis’
      truck there at that Ranch House Restaurant ( in the Russ
      Reason interview video ) I thought that Willis was the ONLY
      one ( Other than GM itself ) from PFD ‘assigned’ to the
      fire that day. You are right. We have since learned there were
      all kinds of people from PFD there that day ( but we still don’t
      know exactly WHO? ).

      Regardless… I still think that is actually Willis’ pickup there at
      the cafe with the flashers going in the ‘Russ Reason’ video.

      The license plate number is clearly visible.


      NOTE: It is POSSIBLE that the ’4′ is simply some kind of small
      Arizona logo which would make the actual plate number
      just “ATE 515″.

      Here is that original post from way up above describing how
      I arrived at the conclusion in the first place…


      I have been working to identify previously unidentified
      vehicles in that last video I found and I have one done.

      That is definitely Darrell Willis’ all-white truck that is parked
      between the two cafe’ driveway entrances and has its
      flashers on.

      Here is how I verified that…

      Darell Willis has been personally named in the first legal claim
      filed on the Yarnell incident.

      An address is published in the first claim filed 11/15/13
      associated with Willis….

      Darrell Willis Wildlands Division Chief
      Granite Mountain IHS Crew
      1700 Iron Springs Road, Prescott, Arizona 86305

      This is NOT his home address. It is simply the street address
      of the Prescott Fire Station… but that turned out to be
      all I needed to ID his vehicle.

      If you simply drop this address line into the search bar
      of Google maps…

      1700 Iron Springs Road, Prescott, Arizona 86305

      …you are now looking at the Prescott Fire Station
      on a nice, bright sunny day.

      You will see a number of ‘all-white’ vehicles parked outside
      the station in the rear parking lot.

      Position your Google Maps ‘Street View’ to look right down the
      station driveway on the north side, then zoom in on the all-white
      extended cab pickup sitting in the rear of the lot between the
      dumpster and the other black pickup with the over-size tires.

      This all-white extended-cab pickup is an EXACT match for
      the all-white extended-cab pickup seen in the video… right
      down to the wheel fender cowlings and the actual tire rims.

      In the video… the flashers are running but if you look at the
      tailgate of the vehicle in front you can also clearly see that the
      headlights are ON and shining onto that tailgate of the vehicle
      in front of it. This most probably means the engine is running
      and whoever is sitting in THIS vehicle is also using their
      high-amp on-board radio and the engine is running so as not
      to run down the battery.

      In the VERY first part of the video… the driver’s side door
      of this all-white pickup is open and if you squint… I think
      you can see someone’s legs sticking out of the car like
      they are sitting sideways in the driver’s seat with their feet
      on the ground outside of the pickup.

      I would guess that is Willis… just listening to the radio.

      The actual LICENSE PLATE number of this all-white extended
      cab pickup truck in the video with its flashers on is…


      NOTE: It is POSSIBLE that the ’4′ is simply some kind of small
      Arizona logo which would make the actual plate number
      just “ATE 515″.

  44. Robert the Second says


    Here are some Live Fuel Moisture readings from the Verde Ranger District for June 2013.

    On June 24th – the OAK brush was somewhat high at 95.89, the MANZANITA was 81.29, and the JUNIPER was 88.96. The FMO noted that since May 28th, the OAK FM had sharply trended down 22 points from its May 28th moisture.

    So, even with somewhat high FM in the oak brush, just the sheer volume, density, and a 45-50 year old decadent stand would account for the observed fire behavior and rates of spread.

    • Rocksteady says

      Rerunning (fine tuning the numbers)

      Chapparal fuel type, 1hr fuel 10% (assumed), 10 hr. 2% (confirmed), 100 hr 3% (Confirmed), Herbaceous and woody fuel moisture Averaged 90% (confirmed by RTS), slope 0%,

      Winds of 20 mph = 6.3 mph growth, 46 ft high flame front
      30 = 11.2 mph, with a 60 ft flame height

      winds of 40 = 17 mph, with 72 ft flame front.

      The actual wind from the weather station shows at 15:00 SW winds at 13 gusting 22, at 16:00 NNE at 26 gusting 41.

      So, in all reality, the above noted rates of spread are in the ballpark (as far as a computer generated prediction goes.)

      If I were writing a FB Advisory on this fire, I would be sure to include these in the document… Most people start to roll their eyes when you start babbling about fuel moistures and all that, but you tell them… 6 mph and 46 ft tall, they get the hint..

      I suspect, but can’t validate that teh windspeeds may have actually been higher than those recorded, right at the fire itself due to convection and indrafts. I did a burn off operation in a spruce/pine type in Northern Alberta that had an East wind of 8 mph, but once I got convection, the wind came from all directions, up to 50 mph…. This was measured on a Kestrel at least a mile away from my operation.

      Unfortunately my modelling software will not allow for a windspeed higher than 40 mph.

  45. Robert the Second says


    I provided you with some OBSERVED FM readings from select sites above, and working on getting the live herbaceous FM.

  46. Rocksteady says

    Here goes, I had to make some assumptions, but I will specify them..

    KNown data. 10 hr fuels 2%, 100 hr 3%, flat ground (slope 0f 1%),

    assumptions – 1 hr fuels, Live Herbacious, Live woody

    Using a 1 hr fuel of 15%, with 100% Herb moisture, 100% Woody moisture
    at 20 mph wind = 5 mi/h spread 38 ft flame height
    at 30= 9 mi/h with 50 ft
    at 40 = 13 mi/h with 60 ft

    When I change the 1 hr to 10%, same live&herb
    at 20 = 6 mph, 44 ft
    at 30 = 10.5 with 57
    at 40 = 16 with 69 ft

    When I only change the herb and live to 30% (minimum score on this program) Could be accurate if extended drought, as documented.
    At 20 = 12 mph with 66 ft
    at 30 = 21 mph, with 86 ft
    at 40 = 32 mph, with 104 ft.

    I have never worked in chaparral, so have no clue if my 1 hr fuels (10 or 15%) are within real values. As well, I do not know if my fuel moisture for live herbacious and live woody are realistic (30% and 100%).

    If someone on here can provide me better anecdotal evidence as to what these numbers SHOULD be, I can rerun the numbers.

  47. calvin says

    I think the fact that Mcdonough and BRIHC parked at the Ranch House is simply explained. They parked there waiting for the word that GM and Marsh had arrived at Boulder Springs. If they had driven out to Boulder Springs prematurely, they could have been trapped there. So they were just waiting. Note they didn’t drive North where Frisby thought they were going. And Mcdonough told them (GM Supt and Capt) “I’ll see em soon.”
    So if Mcdonough didn’t go “help” BR do anything after he got in Marsh’s truck ( and only traversed Sesame on his way to the Ranch House) ; what WAS he doing in this 30 plus minute time period? Helping SPGS1? Continuing his lookout duties?
    WTKTT… I also noticed that Mcdonough just sort of fell off the map (or the SAIR) after being picked up by Frisby. p63 of SAIR Sequence of events 0700-1622 does not mention DIV A (Marsh) once. At 0700 it simply says SPGS1 drives out to the fire with GMIHC. No mention of DIV A. 1153-1239 BR Supt and Capt drive UTV to anchor point and meet GMIHC there. No mention of DIV A. I do not know what this means except the SAIT did a horrible job with this report!

    p.ii map with landmarks…… According to this map Mcdonough is sitting in his lookout position approximately 1/4 mile from the retardant line. My observation from overlaying the fire progression map onto p.ii is that the retardant line was compromised near the grader position first and that occurred around 1530, or about the same time figure 8 (on p23 of SAIR) was taken

  48. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin asked…
    >> Once Mcdonough was dropped off at Eric’s truck. Frisby ( BR Supt )
    >> went to get other drivers to move GM buggies. Did Mcdonough head
    >> on over to the Ranch House then?

    >> Joy A Collura and Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan responded…
    >> Buford of Yarnell states the man Jim next to Helm’s saw Brendan drive
    >> out and that is not off the Shrine area but over near Sesame area—he
    >> stated the look Brendan had is worth you all reaching Jim to go over
    >> his testimony of that moment.

    Whoa. Full stop.

    If that is true… that someone saw Brendan EXIT the Sesame area that day
    (alone in the GM Supervisor truck) back through Glen Ilah… and that he had
    some kind of horrific or worried look on his face… and did NOT go over to
    the Shrine area at all…

    …then that makes mincemeat of BOTH the SAIR report AND Brendan’s
    own public statements about this timeframe and about his participation
    in ‘moving the GM vehicles’.

    First let’s revisit what the SAIR says about this… and then we will revisit
    what Brendan himself has said about this in his public video interview.

    ** What the SAIR has to say about Brendan’s involvement
    ** ( or lack thereof? ) in moving the GM vehicles…

    Page 24 of the SAIR says…

    :: BR Supt drops GM Lookout off at the Granite Mountain IHC Supt truck
    :: at about 1555 and then heads around the corner to get some of his
    :: crew to help move the Granite Mountain crew carriers. On the Granite
    :: Mountain intra-crew frequency, GM Lookout hears DIVS A and GM
    :: Capt talking about their options, whether to stay in the black or to
    :: come up with a plan to move.

    NOTE: There it is again. The SAIR states, unequivocally, that Brendan
    McDonough heard every word of the mysterious (and crucial) ‘discussing
    their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions between Marsh and Steed…
    but does not supply one iota of additional text that would then explain
    everything that was going to happen the rest of the day and that we are
    all still simply ‘guessing’ about.

    ALSO NOTE: The SAIR says Brendan was dropped off SPECIFICALLY
    at the ‘GM Supervisor Truck’ and then, at that point, BR Supt was only
    fetching crew to move the Carriers themselves. This MAY suggest that
    Brendan was, in fact, ‘on his own’ at that point with the GM Supervisor
    truck and never participated in helping BR move the Carriers at all.

    ALSO NOTE: After this little blurb in the SAIR about Brendan being ‘dropped
    off at the GM Supervisor truck’… ‘GM Lookout’ ( Brendan McDonough ) is
    NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN in the entire SAIR report. As far as the
    SAIR is concerned… Brendan just ‘disappears from history’ at that moment.

    That is… unless you count the ‘timeline’ at the end of the SAIR document.
    There ( on page 63 ), the SAIR suddenly seems to assert that Brendan DID
    go over to the Shrine Area with the BR fellas…

    Page 63 of the SAIR ( Event Timeline )…

    1555 ( 4:55 PM ): Granite Mountain Lookout and Blue Ridge IHC start
    moving Granite Mountain IHC trucks to Shrine area

    The SAIR continues at this point with more detail about the moving
    of the GM Crew Carriers… but with NO MENTION of McDonough now…

    Page 25 of the SAIR says…

    :: Fire reaches SPGS1’s first trigger point, and he requests YCSO to order
    :: an immediate resident evacuation for Yarnell. ( 1600 / 4:00 PM according
    :: to SAIR event timeline, page 63 ). Around this time, drivers arrive at the
    :: Shrine area with the Granite Mountain crew carriers, and soon they are
    :: loading the Blue Ridge crewmembers and leaving the area.

    NOTE: This section does NOT say that McDonough was actually WITH
    the ‘drivers that arrive at the Shrine area’. McDonough was driving Eric
    Marsh’s Superintendent truck. The SAIR only says that the ‘Crew
    Carriers’ arrived over at the Shrine circa 1600 ( 4:00 PM ). This is now
    a full page AFTER Brendan had been mentioned being specifically
    dropped off by the ‘GM Superintendent truck’ and would then ‘disappear
    from history’ and never be mentioned again the report.

    ** That’s it for the SAIR’s description of Brendan’s involvement ( or lack
    ** thereof ? ) in moving the GM vehicles.
    ** Now let’s revist what Brendan himself had to say ( in public ) about that…

    Brendan in his own words about this ‘moving the vehicles’ activity
    from his public video interview with the Daily Courier…

    :: So at that point ( when BR Supt picked me up by the old grader ) I loaded
    :: my stuff up… and… as I’m loading my stuff up… I hand my radio to the…
    :: the sup off of the other hotshot crew and… he’s relaying information to
    :: my superintendent and captain about where our vehicles are parked, that
    :: they’re gonna move ‘em for us, that they have me with them… and it’s
    :: safer for me to go out with him, back to the vehicles, back to the main
    :: road in Yarnell than to try and meet up with them ( my own crew )…
    :: and he relayed information on what the fire’s doing and kinda what
    :: their goal was.. and… just giving them as much information as he
    :: could… on what was goin’ on… and… at that point.. um… I was already
    :: in the ATV and we’re on our way and I’m just… on the radio… I tell…
    :: uh… my superintendent and captain that if they need anything, give
    :: me a call, and that I’ll see ‘em soon.
    :: We ( BR Supt and I ) had arrived at the vehicles… and Blue Ridge
    :: hotshot crew… they helped us ( Me and BR Supt? ) bump those
    :: vehicles around to a different side of the fire, in a safer area… um…
    :: for them to be in… and at that point… I was pretty much with them…
    :: and… I mean… in this job you’re supposed to always remain flexible…
    :: and… uh… when I had left… my position was compromised… and my
    :: safety… and my crew understood… and they were comfortable with
    :: me leaving knowing that they could see the fire… and… um…
    :: I mean… as any… any crew member they always wish they could
    :: be with their crew… those are the guys ya love and ya wanna work
    :: with… and… when I was with Blue Ridge I felt very comfortable,
    :: ya know. It was.. It was almost like being… ya know… with a…
    :: it was at home. Good feeling… um… but our goal was to prep a
    :: dozer line which means to get ready to burn it… possibly… so we
    :: were gonna clear out a lot of the fuels that’s on this line that a
    :: dozer has pushed… heavy equipment has pushed… and within
    :: minutes of getting there… uh… the fire activity was just picking up
    :: and keep picking up from when I had left… and… around that time…
    :: this had to been around 4… 4:15, 4:30 ish… I’m guessing…
    :: my times on that day are really hazy… um… we ended up going…
    :: they kinda pulled the resources off and the divisions and… jus cus
    :: of what was goin’ on and people on their own were doing it jus…
    :: wasn’t… uh… safe area… cus at that point when we had moved we
    :: were even closer to the fire… and… we pulled off, we parked at
    :: a cafe’, and during the time, ya know, told my superintendent and
    :: captain that we had the vehicles in a safe area… and… once
    :: again… if they needed anything just give me a call and I’ll see
    :: ‘em soon… and that’s the last time that I talked to ‘em.


    Forget the fact that Brendan’s story doesn’t even hold water within
    the same two paragraphs… because the SAIR says BR Supt told
    SPGS1 ( Willis? ) they were NOT going to ‘burn that dozer’ line
    ( there was no longer time ) while he was simply on his way to get
    some BR fellas to go back and help Brendan.

    Page 24 of SAIR says…

    :: 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.

    That means Brendan’s story about “our goal (he and BR now) was to
    prep a dozer line” is nonsense. That ‘plan’ was abandoned before
    Brian Frisby ( BR Supt ) ever even got back to the Shrine area to
    even begin to tell some other BR guys to go back to where the GM
    Crew Carriers ( and Brendan, supposedly? ) was.

    So yea… forget the inconsistencies in Brendan’s own story
    even from sentence to sentence…

    If, as a WITNESS now claims, Brendan really did just EXIT Sesame street
    by himself ( driving the GM Supervisor truck ) the way GM came in that
    morning… out Lakewood drive through Glen Ilah and directly to the Ranch
    House Restaurant…

    …and ONLY the GM Crew Carriers got ‘humped’ over to the Shrine area
    by some of the BR fellas…

    …then BOTH the SAIR report AND Brendan’s public statements
    are complete fiction.

    I suppose this could all be EASILY verified by ANY of the Blue Ridge
    Mountain Hotshots and not just Brian Frisby ( BR Supt. )

    Was Brendan McDonough ( in the GM Supervisor Truck ) EVER really
    ‘over with them now’ in the Shrine area after he left his lookout
    position… or did he simply ‘disappear’ that afternoon after getting dropped
    off at the truck by Brian Frisby?

    Did he just head right over the Ranch House Restaurant and order
    a burger, or something?

    NOTE: The SAIR event timeline also says this about the firefighters
    leaving the Shrine area, going out to the ‘staging’ area where
    Shrine road meets Hwy 89, and then everyone proceeding directly
    down to the Ranch House Restaurant ( the cafe’ )…

    1640 ( 4:40 PM )
    Last firefighters leave the northern subdivision of Yarnell and reach Hwy 89
    ( staging area where Shrine road meets Hwy 89 – The Tom Story photograph? )

    1643 ( 4:43 PM )
    Fire resources regroup at the Ranch House Restaurant in southern Yarnell.

    Not possible, if Brendan’s story is to be believed.

    He said that when he arrived at the cafe’ with everyone else… he then called
    his ‘cap and sup’ a SECOND time to tell them the vehicles were now safe
    at the cafe’ and if they needed anything… ‘just give him a call’.

    If the SAIR is right about the TIME when everyone actually arrived at the
    cafe’… then Brendan was talking to men that were already in their shelters
    and just about to die ( or already gone ).

    SAIR says Marsh’s final “Affirm!” radio message came at 1642 ( 4:42 PM ).

    That’s 1 minute BEFORE Brendan ( according to him ) would have called
    his ‘cap and sup’ just to chit-chat about the vehicles and tell them
    they were now “safe at the cafe’ “.

    No wonder even Brendan doesn’t give any hint what Steed or Marsh’s
    response to that second ‘see ya soon’ call from him that day might
    have been.

    There WAS no response…because ( according to the SAIR timeline )
    they were both already dead.

    • Sonny says

      http://bufordsworkshop.com/ is the contact page for Buford just so you know and I am short on online time so that is all I can do so you can find out the man next to Helm’s place who saw that face he described to us- a look of worry is what Buford was told- WORTH looking into especially OSHA and investigators but it seems you all are more invested in this and I hope to have some down time soon to sit and really READ the comment wall but we just have a lot going on to spend the time but we are giving you all pure information and sources—

    • Joy A Collura says

      That means Brendan’s story about “our goal (he and BR now) was to
      prep a dozer line” is nonsense. That ‘plan’ was abandoned before
      Brian Frisby ( BR Supt ) ever even got back to the Shrine area to
      even begin to tell some other BR guys to go back to where the GM

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Joy… on that particular day… BLUE helmets were being
        worn by Blue Ridge Hotshots… and BLACK helmets
        were being worn by Granite Mountain Hotshots.

        Early in the day… there WAS work being done to ‘prepare
        that dozer line’ just in CASE it might need to be
        ‘burned off’ later in the day as a kind of ‘fires break’ to try
        and keep the fire from getting to Yarnell.

        One of the Blue Ridge Hotshots was assigned to the
        actual ‘heavy equipment’ (dozer) crew early in the day
        as well… so that’s probably who you saw and what
        they were doing.

        However… as the day went on… the likelihood of
        actually ‘burning off’ that ‘prepared’ dozer line became
        less and less… and by the time BR Supt was asked
        by SPGS1 ( around 3:55, just after BR Supt dropped
        Brendan off at the GM Supervisor truck ) if ‘burning
        that dozer line’ was still a viable option…

        Brian Frisby ( BR Supt ) said NO.
        It was too late for that to do any good.

        The fire had already changed directions and had very
        quicky crossed trigger points for the evacuation of
        Yarnell… and the focus shifted to that, instead.

        Eric Marsh heard that radio conversation and also
        AGREED with BR Supt that it would no longer
        serve a useful purpose to ‘burn that dozer line’ at that
        point. If Eric Marsh heard that cancelling of that plan
        on the radio… then so did Brendan McDonough.

        Brendan still says ‘helping the prep the dozer line in
        case it might need to be burned off’ became his job
        AFTER he abandoned his lookout post and ( supposedly )
        was re-assigned to the Blue Ridge crew…

        …but just moments after Brendan was dropped off at
        the GM Supervisor truck by BR Supt… that is when
        BR Supt cancelled the whole plan to burn that
        dozer line.

        So Brendan could NOT have had that ‘as his job’
        after joining Blue Ridge. It wasn’t ‘a job’ anymore.
        They weren’t even going to bother doing that and the
        focus was now on ‘evacuating the Shrine area’.

        So where did Brendan really go after BR Supt dropped
        him off at the GM Supervisor Truck around 3:55 PM?

        Apparently… we are back to ‘not knowing’.

        It doesn’t appear that the story being told by the SAIR
        report OR the story told by Brendan in his own
        public video interview is accurate.

        More needs to be learned about what Brendan was
        really doing ( and where he really went ) after BR Supt
        dropped him off at the GM Supervisor Truck… other
        than just simply sitting or driving around in the GM
        truck and hearing EVERYTHING that was being said
        over the truck’s onboard radio that afternoon… which
        we already KNOW he was doing.

  49. Robert the Second says


    This is what I could find for the Fuel Moisture data you asked for. Not a lot really.

    The Wild Fire Assessment System (WFAS) Archive had OBSERVED Fuel Moistures (FM) for the following sites for June 30, 2013:

    Verde (3100′) – 100 hr FM = 4% and 10 hr FM = 2%
    Goodwin Mesa (4209′) – 100 hr FM = 3% and 10 hr FM = 2%.
    Cherry (5174′) – 100 hr FM = 3% and 10 hr FM = 2%

    Stanton (the one the SAIT used) was not included in the WFAS data.

    So, it looks like Verde is your best bet for both elevation and comparable fuel model compared to Yarnell. Next best would probably be Goodwin Mesa.

    Seasonal Fire WX Outlook for June 2013 and beyond but NO actual fuel mositures (FM), except for a 1000 hr. FM map.

    That’s the best I could do for now.

  50. says

    wants to know the truth- I am ready to walk it online- can you repost the process- I am ready to see what you saw and since I have hiked it hundreds of times before and hundreds times after the fire and I can share how accurate it is—tell me your point a is the helispot than walk it to the deployment spot?
    your videos were excellent. sad too. I am weeping for the many children without their father and wives without their husbands and etc. and I think of the Yarnell community and their losses and my loss of my desert pals- the wildlife and that unique terrain. It is hard to watch the box canyon video. Thank you for making it. I want my family to see it. much gratitude.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Joy… see a longer post just below ( made on December 4 )
      where I have posted a link to a new public video that is my
      ‘eye-level trail walk’ created using Google Earth 3D and
      NAVSAT satellite imagery dated April 9, 2013 ( Just 82 days
      before the tragedy ).

      I used what the SAIR has called the ‘Lunch Spot’ for the start
      of their walk to the south up on that ridge… but that is fairly
      close to the ‘helispot’ that you refer to and is also marked
      on a map in the SAIR.

      The important part of the video is that it STOPS at every
      minute along the way… and the ‘camera’ then turns to the
      east at each of those points to see exactly what an eye-level
      view out into the ‘middle bowl’ should have looked like.

      My best guess here is that they really did not lose the ability
      to see the ‘advancing fireline’ until about 4:18 or 4:19 PM,
      as they approached the spot where Tex found the roll of
      pink tape and they decided to drop into the canyon.

      There MAY be a few other moments along the hike when
      it would have been hard to see the ‘middle bowl’ ( like
      around the 4:09 or 4:10 PM mark? ) but I believe they
      would have then regained any momentary loss of the
      middle bowl again in the 4:11 to 4:18 timerange.

      Anyway… watch the video and see what YOU think.
      I would love to know.

      Here some of what I posted below along with a link
      to the new video…

      ** NEW VIDEO

      I have uploaded another video to a public YouTube account
      that contains a Google Earth 3D ‘eye-level’ walk along the
      high ridge two-track road that GM hiked from the ‘Lunch Spot’
      to the ‘Descent Point’.

      The ‘high terrain resolution’ feature of Google Earth 3D was
      used for all the eye-level views in the video.

      The journey begins at 4:04 PM at what the SAIR has established
      as the ‘Lunch Spot’ and continues on to the point where the
      SAIR says they descended into the box canyon at 4:20 PM.

      For each MINUTE of the walk south… the video has a ‘time
      marker’ on the trail to show approximately where they must
      have been each minute along the way that afternoon.

      At each of those MINUTE markers… the ‘camera’ turns to the
      east for a moment to show the exact eye-level view of the
      ‘middle bowl’ that they would have had at each point along
      the way. This is a pretty good way to just ‘see what they saw’
      all along that hike that afternoon.

      The video actually has TWO parts.

      The FIRST part is more of a ‘fly-over’ ( not at eye-level ) of the
      trail marked with the time stamps. It also ‘flies’ down into the
      canyon and on to the deployment site. The first part then
      ‘reverses’, flies back up the canyon and over the time-stamped
      trail again… and back to the ‘Lunch Spot’.

      The SECOND part is the ‘eye-level trail walk’. It starts at
      about 3:15. The ‘camera’ shows the trail right in front of you
      as you walk along to each of the ‘minute’ markers… and then
      turns to the east at each and every marker to see what the
      eye-level ‘view’ out towards the fire would have been like at
      that point.

      Here is the link to the video…

      Video Title: Fly-through with time markers then eye-level trail walk


      NOTE: This video is an experiment. I believe it tells me that
      they had pretty good ‘eyes on the fire’ for a LOT of that
      hike to the south that day… until they lost sight of it around
      4:18 or 4:19 PM… but I would love to know what anyone
      else who has ‘been there’ thinks at to the accuracy of
      the Google Earth imagery.

  51. says

    we looked at your video- it is eery to see it from above but we have hiked with many many people and many fire/wind experts and the wonderful video you created is the way Joy wanted to go down 6-30-13 and Tex stated on 6-30-13 that was WORSE than the area the 19 went down and fire/wind experts we hiked with agreed with Tex so that video was well made to recreate the way Joy wanted to go that very day—and was told by Tex and fire experts I would of perished. Thank you for making a video- please keep it up. I want my family to see this video. Thank you.

  52. says

    We were out on Black Friday—not my normal style—we were looking for game trail deals and such. When we were sitting in traffic waiting than waiting in long lines almost like when one visits an amusement park ride line; dragged out long lines everywhere. Than I thought how Thanksgiving went- waiting for the yummy food to be done and gathering around with loved ones waiting to eat that traditional meal. With Christmas ahead and the waiting to open a gift—all this “waiting” reminded me of things outside the Holiday traditions and that is waiting for someone’s next interview where they say “you remember that report for Yarnell Hill Fire we put out and I kept sticking up for it—-I am now ready to share and admit it was due to my professional position that I stated that publicly a lot—I felt if you all heard it again from me you would believe it or maybe I would start believing it if I kept saying it. I know you all waited in silence as the world rushed by waiting for me to say here I am—I am now ready to go beyond my profession…beyond my position…and give you the details that lacked in the report because I know every bit of information is needed in hopes to never have this happen again. I had experts work on this report so I felt it was done sufficient. Yet I will tell you now I really could not sleep at night with ease knowing nineteen men died and I had more information to share to the report but I had to figure out how to piece the report together to avoid ligations and such.”

    (maybe see this interview will come out this Holiday Season or I was dreaming myself or I was doing one of those “what if” moments I see on this comment area to guess what happened and how a man sleeps at night.)

    EVERYONE- We hope you have a warm and loving Holiday Season—maybe this Holiday Season will bring much grace and blessings that we see publicly more details unfold to this tragic weekend where nineteen men died and a community that was affected by it. We toast our glasses to you all—

    “Salute- may the truth prevail…may one who walks with integrity keep honoring God and may He guide your path with a clear direction.”

  53. calvin says

    Any way you slice it, According to the fire progression map, the ROS from the closest point of the fire line to the deployment was only one mile from the deployment site at 1600. This makes the ROS claim made by the SAIR, or the WIND WIZARD completely false. The fire progression map shows the fire was moving less than 2mph in the final 40 minutes of the GMIHC lives. This changes my perception of all the events that unfolded that afternoon. It also brings me back to the point I made earlier about the GM and Marsh waiting on the VLAT drop. Just my thoughts!

  54. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    I have uploaded another video to a public YouTube page.

    This one is a ‘down and back’ fly-through of the box canyon itself from
    the point where the roll of pink tape was found on the high ridge
    two-track road, down the slope and over the deployment site… then
    on to the Ranch and the long driveway that leads to it, then it
    turns around and comes back the other way… all the way back
    over the deployment site and up to the same starting point on the ridge.

    It is using the ‘high terrain resolution’ feature of Google Earth and
    is a fly-through at about 100 feet of altitude ( not eye-level ).

    There is no suggested exact ‘route’ for the GM Hotshots because I don’t
    believe that has ever actually been determined. The hikers Gilligan and
    Collura have reported that some ‘cuttings’ have been found somewhere
    outside the deployment site itself… but there is no information on exactly
    where those might be or if they are evidence of the exact path that GM
    might have taken for their descent that afternoon.

    The video does, however, show the series of ‘clearings’ that all line up
    to the west of the deployment site. Again… there is no real evidence
    whether the GM crew were either aware of these ‘clearings’ or used
    them to aid with their descent.

    Here is the link to the video…

    Video title: Box Canyon Fly-through


    Here is the ‘About’ information published along with the video…

    A down and back fly-through of the box canyon at about 100 feet of altitude.
    It continues on past the deployment site to the Boulder Springs Ranch, the
    driveway that leads to it, and then back across the ranch and the box canyon
    again from east to west. The NAVSAT satellite terrain data used in these
    images was dated April 9, 2013, just 82 days before the incident on
    June 30, 2013. The video also shows the series of small clearings that
    were just west of the deployment site.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        The reason I included the overfly of that LOOONG
        driveway that actually leads from Glen Ilah out to
        the ranch itself is to just give everyone an idea of
        how FAR they would still have had to go, even if
        they HAD reached the ranch, before they would have
        been able to do any point or structure protection,
        if that was even part of the sad equation that day.

        If if they had reached the ranch without dying… they
        would still have needed another 20-25 minutes to
        get all the way down that driveway to where they
        even MIGHT have been any good to anybody.

        They just didn’t have that kind of time.
        They MUST have known that.

        I’m still not sure I buy just about any ‘they were going
        to save people’ scenarios based on the obvious
        realities of that journey… and how they MUST have
        known there just was no time that afternoon for a
        ‘mission’ like that. 3:30 PM? Maybe. 4:00 PM? No way.

        Maybe, in the end, it will just turn out they didn’t
        want to spend the damn night up there, and didn’t
        really give a crap about protecting anything or

        Also… I still think those ‘clearings’ that obviously
        line up to the west of the deployment site COULD
        have helped with a ‘drop packs and haul ass’
        scenario. Yes… there was tangled brush connecting
        the clearings… but there would have been the
        opportunity for at least some ‘clear field running’
        on the way back up.

        Would ALL 19 have made it?

        Nope. Don’t think so.

        Would 1 or 2 of the youngest, healthiest ones have
        gotten back up that ridge… if they had not wasted
        even ONE SECOND preparing their own death site?

        I still think so.

  55. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> Gary Olson wrote…
    >> The Granite Mountain Hotshots were on the move in the middle of a very
    >> dynamic situation with the fire going to hell in a hand basket. They did a
    >> lot of talking between themselves, especially since they were probably
    >> not standing next to each other during most or all of the time.
    >> I hate to point the finger at McDonough, that young man has had nothing
    >> in his life to prepare him for what he is and will be going through in the near
    >> future. But…neither did the rest of his crew and that fact didn’t help them
    >> on June 30, 2013.
    >> If he can keep his mouth shut he will probably have a long and happy career
    >> as a Prescott City Fireman and remain a home town hero. If he talks about
    >> what he knows, he will be unemployed and have to leave town. Tough
    >> choice for a young man with at least one dependent (a daughter I think)
    >> to make.

    Brendan McDonough has already stated (in public) that he has no intentions
    of ‘keeping his mouth shut’… but he wants it all to be on HIS terms.

    In his second ( of two ) public video interviews with the Prescott Daily
    Courier he said…

    :: I’ll make a statement that I’ll always stand behind my 19 brothers
    :: and support them, and I’ll make it known that there was no bad
    :: decision made… That no one’s at fault for what happened.
    :: I’ll make it known that I was there and I know what happened…
    :: (and) there was a lot of other people that were there and knew
    :: what happened.

    The Courier article that accompanied the release of his video
    statements also went on to say…

    :: Brendan was ill on Friday and Saturday, June 28-29, but returned
    :: to work with his crew in time for the Yarnell Hill wildfire assignment
    :: early on the morning of June 30.
    :: There were some things he (Brendan) didn’t want to discuss about
    :: that day with The Daily Courier.

    Like what? ( or, at least, WHY not? )
    Who else ‘knows what he knows’? ( as he clearly states they do ).

    So in the same breath he says he will always “make it known what
    happened that day… because I was there”… and then says there
    are things he “won’t talk about”.

    Surely this young man has to realize what a sense of ‘mystery’ he,
    himself, is adding to this whole thing with statements like that.

    When he is called to testify in court as one of the only living witnesses to a
    terrible ( and now historic ) accident…

    He won’t be able to take the 5th… and he won’t be able to pick and
    choose what to say like you can with a reporter.

    I hope he’s ready… ‘cus it’s a-comin’.

  56. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> Pii of SAIR shows the Granite Mountain
    >> Crew Carriers approximately 0.8 miles from
    >> deployment site!!!! WTKTT…. Can you
    >> confirm this distance via Google Earth?

    calvin… the answer is up above where you first posted the information.
    You were close. It’s more like 0.7 miles, a little closer than you thought….

    …but this just a general ‘Public Service Announcement’ for anyone
    who is wondering about ‘distance measurements’ and such.

    You do NOT need ‘Google Earth’ to simply measure exact distances.

    Plain old ‘Google Maps’ can do that for you.

    At the bottom of the left-hand pane of ‘Google Maps’ is a series
    of small clickable links that looks like this…

    “Report a problem – Maps Labs – Help”

    Just click the ‘Maps Labs’ link and you are presented with some TOOLS
    that Google Maps can immediately use on the maps you are looking at.

    The first one on the list that appears is the ‘Distance Measurement Tool’.

    Just click the ‘Enable’ button on that, then click the ‘Save Changes’
    button at the bottom of the panel… and when you return to your map
    you will now have a new little ICON in the lower left corner of the map.

    When you click that ICON… you are now in ‘Distance Measuring Mode’.

    Just click one point anywhere on the map… then click another point
    anywhere on the map… and the exact DISTANCE between those
    points will print over in the left-hand panel. You can switch between
    meters or feet. The ‘Delete last point’ and ‘Reset’ buttons over there
    also do exactly what you would think.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup… you can use the plain old ‘Google Maps’ distance
      measuring tool to do some pretty complicated ‘path’ measuring.

      Once you click a point… and then another point… the distance
      appears in the left pane…

      …but if you KEEP CLICKING ‘more points’… the TOTAL
      distance from your FIRST point will continue to accumulate.

      So it isn’t’ just for ‘as the bird flies’ distance measuring.

      You can zoom down on a road or a path or a trail… and
      then just keep following it along and ‘clicking’ on more
      points… and you can quickly compute the total distance
      for things that don’t even follow straight lines like rural
      roads or hiking trails.

  57. RJ says

    Rates or spread (ROS) are averaged for the entire flaming front of the fire. As the fire burns through different fuel beds or on different aspects, the ROS may change. I suspect the ROS in that box canyon may have been very fast, bordering on area ignition as it preheated and ignited.

    • Bob Powers says

      Thanks RJ I think if WTKTT would go back and look at the picture of the different wind directions and velocities in the box canyon that was in the report that might help. Rate of spread changes with fuel type, wind speed and direction, topography as the fire front advances. The rate of spreads were slower out on the flats and changed drastically in the canyons.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Page 78 of the SAIR ( the page just before the wind
        speed diagram ) states the following as a FACT…

        :: The drainage was also parallel with modeled wind
        :: vectors that would have resulted in increased rates
        :: of spread. The fire accelerated a second time as
        :: it entered the deployment bowl and winds aligned
        :: with the drainage, funneling to increase velocities
        :: (Figure 20). The estimated time between the sighting
        :: of the fire front from the deployment site to the time
        :: the fire reached the deployment site was less than
        :: two minutes.

        Not possible…

        …unless their documented event line is wrong.

        The SAIR also documents at least ( if not more )
        than THREE minutes between the time Captain Steed
        first ‘saw the flaming front’ ( 16:39 4:39 PM ) and
        the final “Affirm!” message from Marsh ( 16:42 4:32 PM ).
        Marsh was not ‘fully deployed’ in his shelter… but he
        did have time to get it out, try to get in it, and his
        feet were found sticking through the separated
        end cap of the shelter. That means he may have
        had only 25 seconds or so after the “Affirm!”
        message but 25 seconds is 25 seconds… so that
        could be added to the 3 minute documented event
        timeline making the total documented time there 3:25.

        They can’t have it both ways.

        Either there were LESS than TWO minutes
        ( and their documented event timeline is wrong ).


        There were THREE ( or a little more ) minutes.
        ( and their ROS and fire travel times are wrong ).

        Which is it, I wonder?

        Re: Figure 20 ( Estimated winds in the canyon ).

        WindWizard is a software product that originated
        at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. The SAIT
        relied heavily on resources from Missoula including
        even just ‘members of the Missoula Fire Department’.

        Figure 20 ( the wind chart ) specifically says it was
        generated using this ‘WindWizard’ product.

        At the actual Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory
        website there is this disclaimer that the software
        isn’t even supported anymore…

        :: WindWizard is no longer supported by the
        :: Missoula Fire Sciences Lab as the underlying
        :: software is not readily available. Much of the
        :: Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) modeling
        :: within the WindWizard framework will be added
        :: to WindNinja within the next two years.

        At http://www.firemodels.org, they also only list WindWizard
        as ‘Software that was under development’ and
        that it is ‘not supported anymore’.

        It actually lists these disclaimers about it…

        – PC software under development.
        – No longer available.
        – Gridded wind model that reflects the effect of topography.
        – Not a forecast model.

        I am NOT saying they got it wrong… but you have to
        realize that we might be looking at the GIGO
        effect here. ( Garbage In / Garbage Out ).

        There is no detail about what information was GIVEN
        to this (experimental?) ‘WindWizard’ software in order
        to produce that chart. There is no actual TIME stamp
        on the figure itself… as if it represents any actual
        moment in time.

        There is NO DOUBT that the canyon acted like a
        ‘chimney’. Even the hiker Tex Gilligan with no fire
        classes under his belt knew that was going to happen
        as early as 1:00 PM that day… and certainly the
        ‘trained’ firefighters in the field that day should have
        known the same thing.

        I’m just saying that this very pretty ‘wind flow’ diagram in
        the SAIR produced with ‘experimental’ software might
        not be all it’s cracked up to be.

        • Bob Powers says

          And we all may be right as it is all estimates based on radio info and spread info and what the fire may or may not have done. It’s a little hard to put into exact time with no time of burn over and death times etc. So we are still guessing. Having been thru a burn over on the Los Padres I can tell you what I saw and heard. Although not in a canyon we were in a cat built safety zone on a dirt road, mid slope. When the fire started to make its run you could see the top of the smoke column laying over us and the fire like a vacuum pulling the bottom of the smoke and oxygen back to the fire at a terrific rate. This was in 20 to 30 ft. brush. Just before the fire hit our location and went over us it was the sound of jets making a strafing run over us. In 10 min. that fire took out 10,000 ac and left only staubs.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            So you are saying that there is also an
            ‘inflow’ moment that, for lack of a better
            comparison, is just like a rip-tide that
            reverses the flow and PULLS instead
            of PUSHES.

            Like being near an approaching
            vacuum cleaner and then suddenly
            ‘feeling the suction’.

            I have been close enough to a tornado
            to feel the same thing. One moment
            the wind is blasting you… then there
            is a ‘moment of silence’… then you
            feel the SUCTION.

  58. Bob Powers says

    I think Rock steady might be able to spread some light on this as FBA and how spread rates are calculated. I think it is a little different than what you are doing but I don’t have the reference material.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I am by no means pretending to be an expert in this field… but
      we can’t throw out Einstein, either.

      If the SAIR is asserting that a man was talking on the radio
      saying he just now saw something was coming at him…
      and then also asserts that he did not retreat and he was still
      alive 3 minutes later…
      then the ‘something’ that he saw coming at him could NOT
      have been traveling at 12 MPH when he first saw it unless
      it was a fixed distance away.

      There would have to have been a distinct ‘ramp up’ in
      the speed AS it was approaching him… but even that
      can be figured out.

      If the 12 MPH at impact is still asserted… and so are the
      3 minutes… then the ‘ramp up’ could also be determined.

      It’s just math.

      Problem is that the ‘times’ and the ‘durations” ( like how much
      time they REALLY had between first MAYDAY and the actual
      burnover ) are still so wonky that nothing can be said ( or
      computed ) for sure ( yet ).

      Actual ‘time of burnover’ would help.

    • Rocksteady says

      If someone can provide me with some data from the nearest weather station, I should be able to run a rough model.

      I require the Fuel Model (I am thinking Fuel Model 4 – Chapparal), 1, 10 and 100 hr moisture, Live herbacious Moisture, Live woody moisture.

      I can mess around with variables of wind and slope.

      I checked into the archived IAP’s but did not note this info.

      If someone can gather this info, I will see what my computer will spit out.

      As a cursory glance, I DOUBT the alleged 12 mph for fire growth.

      12mph is 63360 ft per hour, 17 chains per minute???

      • Rocksteady says

        Went back into all of the IAP’s for the incident, no real data that I can use to confirm rates of spread… Statements like “the entire fuel layer is very dry”???? What is very dry? 10%, 12%, 18%????

        The first few IAP’s just talk about temp, rh and winds..Its not til a few days later that they specify “25 to 40 chains/hr and flame height of 10-25ft”….

        Okay, but where is the orginal data (inputs) that create those outputs????

      • calvin says

        From Wildfire Today:
        Robert Tissell on July 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm said:

        The RAWS station at Iron Springs, north near Prescott, has a more direct recording of the t-storm effects that afternoon. Look at the change from 1406 to 1506:
        QISA3 IRON SPRINGS 34.593611 -112.511389 5385 ft RAWS

        Data provided by: Bureau of Land Management & USDA Forest Service
        MesoWest Disclaimer

        English Units Variable Descriptions

        6,30,2013, 0,06,MST, 80.0,27,6.0,11.0,261,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,11,270,12.40,50.8
        6,30,2013, 1,06,MST, 78.0,22,6.0,12.0,228,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,12,263,12.40,45.1
        6,30,2013, 2,06,MST, 71.0,32,3.0,8.0,187,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,8,228,12.40,46.6
        6,30,2013, 3,06,MST, 73.0,32,3.0,5.0,226,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,5,224,12.40,48.3
        6,30,2013, 4,06,MST, 69.0,37,2.0,5.0,204,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,5,255,12.40,47.8
        6,30,2013, 5,06,MST, 69.0,34,2.0,7.0,327,2,0.0,,3.20,,,,7,314,12.40,46.1
        6,30,2013, 6,06,MST, 69.0,35,2.0,8.0,187,2,21.0,,3.20,,,,8,309,12.40,46.7
        6,30,2013, 7,06,MST, 81.0,29,4.0,6.0,204,2,183.0,,3.20,,,,6,197,12.80,53.1
        6,30,2013, 8,06,MST, 89.0,22,6.0,10.0,253,2,322.0,,3.20,,,,10,243,13.10,53.9
        6,30,2013, 9,06,MST, 91.0,18,7.0,11.0,69,2,558.0,,3.20,,,,11,248,13.20,51.3
        6,30,2013, 10,06,MST, 95.0,17,8.0,12.0,243,2,736.0,,3.20,,,,12,244,13.20,53.2
        6,30,2013, 11,06,MST, 96.0,14,7.0,16.0,255,2,871.0,,3.20,,,,16,240,13.20,50.0
        6,30,2013, 12,06,MST, 99.0,13,7.0,27.0,138,2,954.0,,3.20,,,,27,172,13.30,50.7
        6,30,2013, 13,06,MST, 96.0,12,8.0,19.0,284,2,752.0,,3.20,,,,19,254,12.80,46.9
        6,30,2013, 14,06,MST, 96.0,14,10.0,22.0,228,2,730.0,,3.20,,,,22,251,12.80,50.0
        6,30,2013, 15,06,MST, 79.0,17,15.0,25.0,93,2,256.0,,3.25,,,,25,82,12.80,40.9
        6,30,2013, 16,06,MST, 68.0,47,7.0,29.0,250,2,8.0,,4.19,,,,29,57,12.60,51.7
        6,30,2013, 17,06,MST, 81.0,51,20.0,30.0,263,2,9.0,,4.19,,,,30,281,12.50,65.2
        6,30,2013, 18,06,MST, 80.0,33,14.0,30.0,271,2,50.0,,4.19,,,,30,268,12.50,54.9
        6,30,2013, 19,06,MST, 80.0,29,7.0,14.0,282,2,86.0,,4.19,,,,14,268,12.60,52.2
        6,30,2013, 20,06,MST, 77.0,33,4.0,10.0,329,1,13.0,,4.19,,,,10,336,12.50,52.3
        6,30,2013, 21,06,MST, 69.0,54,6.0,8.0,298,2,0.0,,4.19,,,,8,307,12.50,55.5
        6,30,2013, 22,06,MST, 67.0,60,2.0,8.0,206,2,0.0,,4.19,,,,8,308,12.40,55.9
        6,30,2013, 23,06,MST, 68.0,59,3.0,5.0,288,2,0.0,,4.19,,,,5,314,12.40,56.4

  59. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> The approximate time the fire hit the deployment site being 1642
    >> (For the sake of easy math). IF this is accurate, The fire progressed
    >> 0.8 miles ( from where the carriers had been parked to the deployment site )
    >> in 20 minutes (1622-1642) or 3mph.
    >> BUT. P24 SAIR has DIV A saying the fire is almost as far as the GM
    >> vehicles at about 1555-1600. A full 20 plus minutes before the Fire
    >> progression chart indicates.
    >> At NO time during the day, ACCORDING TO MY INTERPRETATION of
    >> pii and P81 of SAIR does the fire move at a pace of 11mph.
    >> If I am wrong PLEASE TELL ME!

    I have been looking at this on and off myself and every time I do… the
    idea that the fire could have been moving at 10-12 mph at the time
    the Hotshots first saw it ( as the SAIR would have us believe ) is
    totally impossible.

    Let’s take a look at what 12 mph really means.

    For anything ( a fire included ) to travel…

    1 yard at 12 mph takes only 0.17 milliseconds.
    2 yards at 12 mph takes 0.34 ms
    3 yards @ 12 mph takes 0.51 ms
    4 yards @ 12 mph takes 0.68 ms
    5 yards @ 12 mph takes 0.85 ms
    6 yards @ 12 mph takes 1.02 seconds

    The SAIR says that the first MAYDAY came in ( from Steed, but they don’t
    admit that ) at 1639 ( 4:39 PM )…

    Page 27 of the SAIR…

    :: an overmodulated and static-filled transmission comes over the
    :: air-to-ground frequency at 1639:
    :: “Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in
    :: front of the flaming front.” 9

    The SAIR goes on to detail more communications ( and time ) after
    this and is still vague about all that… but we then definitely have another
    timestamp to work with.

    The next one is on the very next page of the SAIR ( Page 28 )…

    :: ASM2: “Okay copy that. So you’re on the south side of the fire then?”
    :: At about 1642, DIVS A yells: “Affirm!”

    So the SAIR is documenting a THREE minute time period here between
    when they first saw the flames and when they were still alive to use the radio.
    ( First MAYDAY at 1639 and last known transmission at 1642 ).

    The SAIR then goes on to say in their ‘summary’ that they ‘had less than
    two minutes to prepare the deployment site’. They don’t say whether that
    is an ADDITIONAL two minutes following Marsh’s final “Affirm!” transmission,
    or whether they are including that ‘less than two minutes’ timeframe in the
    already documented 3 minute time sequence including radio traffic.

    So let’s forget the SAIRs ‘less than two minutes to prepare the site’
    statement for a moment ( since we don’t really know what they mean there ).

    Let’s just stick with the DOCUMENTED 3 minute time period from
    Steed’s first MAYDAY to Marsh’s final “Affirm!” message.

    That means when Steed first saw the ‘flaming front’ ( 1639 ) there MUST have
    been at least THREE MINUTES before the fire would reach them since
    Marsh was still alive to say “Affirm!” at 1642.

    If the fire was already running at 12 MPH, then, when Captain Steed first
    saw it coming… ( as the SAIR would like us to believe? ) then it must have
    been exactly THIS far away from him when he first ‘saw the flaming front’…

    1,056 yards ( 3,168 feet ) away.

    That’s impossible.

    That either puts the ‘flaming front’ that he just said he ‘saw’ at a point so
    far away from him to the northeast that it hadn’t even begun to swing into
    the canyon yet, and would have still been invisible to him from where he
    was standing….

    OR… it puts the flaming front so far away at a point due east of him that
    he would have been just standing there watching it already set the Boulder
    Springs Ranch on fire and not really anywhere near him.

    So sure… the fire was probably still ‘picking up speed’ when Steed first saw
    it and it probably continued to due so for the next half-hour as that canyon
    turned into a chimney and got ‘moonscaped’…

    …but to claim that it was already moving at 12 mph at the moment when
    Steed first ‘saw the flaming front’ is absolutely absurd.

    It certainly will be hard to nail all this down exactly… but since we know
    it was basically IMPOSSIBLE for it to be moving at 12 mph when they
    first saw it… every mile-per-hour we can get it down in speed from there
    at that ‘moment of awareness’ just increases the chances that they might
    have certainly survived if they simply had, in fact, taken off running the minute
    they realized how much trouble they were in…

    …instead of wasting all this time preparing a deployment site that had
    no chance of saving them at all.

    The top of the ridge was only 470 yards behind them.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Apologies… I was actually ‘under-stating’ where the fireline
      would have actually been when Steed first saw it if it
      was already moving at 12 MPH… yet he still had more than
      3 minutes before it would reach him.

      That would have to mean he was ‘seeing’ a ‘flaming front’
      that was still 1,056 yards ( 3,168 feet ) away from him.

      That’s 0.6 miles ( 6/10ths of a mile ) away.

      To the northeast…

      That distance would have put the fireline ALMOST all the way
      back where they had parked the GM Crew Carriers at the
      start of the day ( Just 547 feet short of that spot ) and
      NOWHERE near him or the box canyon yet.

      To the direct east…

      The Boulder Springs Ranch would have actually been fine.

      That distance due east of where Steed was standing would
      have actually put the fireline nearly all the way right smack in
      the middle of Glen Ilah itself at that point… burning all the
      houses while Steed just stood there watching.

      So… again… a fire speed of 12 MPH at the time Steed first saw
      the flaming front ( but would still ( according to the SAIR ) have
      3 minutes left to live ) is totally impossible.

  60. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    I have uploaded a public video that represents a Google Earth 3D ‘fly-through’
    of what it would have been like if Granite Mountain had even been aware of the
    ‘alternate escape route’ that afternoon and had decided to ‘go that way instead’.

    The actual DATE for the NAVSAT satellite images used by Google Earth 3D
    for this ‘fly-through’ are dated April 9, 2013. That is just 82 days before the
    fateful day of June 30, 2013, not including the day itself.

    The video doesn’t show much, really, but it DOES certainly show what it really
    would have been like if Granite Mountan had ‘gone that way’, and the fact
    that even the alternate escape route was a ‘canyon’ or a ‘gorge’ of its own.

    If the fire had crested over the ridges to their left at any time along the eastern
    leg of that ‘alternate escape route’, they would still have been in deep trouble.

    This ‘fly-through’ is not at full ground/eye level. It’s at about 100 feet of altitude
    as if you are in a helicopter just above the ground and ‘flying’ the route.

    Here is the (public) video entitled…

    Fly-through of alternate route for GM Hotshots on 06/30/13


    NOTE: There is no marker on the road that purports to be the actual ‘Descent
    Point’ when GM left the two-track and dropped into the canyon, because I don’t
    believe that exact point has been definitely determined yet.

    There IS, however, a place-marker in the video for the exact point on that
    two-track trail where Mr. Tex Gilligan found the burned roll of pink tape.

    That point is actually about a hundred feet farther south on the trail where
    the SAIR diagrams seem to suggest that GM left the trail. So either someone
    went a hundred feet further south, dropped the pink tape, and then came
    BACK to the point the SAIR says they left the road… or the location where
    the pink tape was found is a more accurate point for where they ACTUALLY
    dropped off that two-track.

    Right about at that point, where the burned roll of tape was found, you can
    see the ‘hill’ that was directly ahead of them to the south that would have
    been obscuring their view of where that two-track actually went.

    Even if they had taken the time to ‘climb that hill’ and check it out… they would
    STILL not have been able to see that the two-track eventually stopped heading
    due south and turned due-east towards the ranch.

    The only way they would have known that was to have already had complete
    ‘situational awareness’ and have KNOWN that is where the two-track goes by
    having looked closely at maps of the area BEFORE they got to that point.

    There is still no evidence that ANY of these men had stopped at any time
    during the day to achieve that kind of ‘situational awareness’ and I don’t believe
    it ever happened during a ‘briefing’ or at any other time during the day.

    They were clueless.

    Unlike what the SAIR would have us believe… they thought they only had
    ONE way to get to the ranch that day… and that’s the way that they went.

    The SAIR would also have us believe that this ‘route’ to the ‘ranch’ was actually
    discussed with the hikers Tex Gilligan and Joy Collura but we also know now
    that WAS never the case at any time that day.

    As the ‘fly-though’ turns from following the two-track due south and then
    due-east, towards the ranch, even at the 100 foot altitude height it is easy
    to see how they would have still totally lost any ‘eyes on the fire’ out there
    to the northeast of them in either what the SAIR calls the ‘middle bowl’
    or the closer ‘entrapment bowl’.

    The visibility in that direction would have been practically ZERO at man-height
    level and just as bad, if not worse, than the loss of visibility over in the box
    canyon where they actually went.

    So there was nothing SAFE about even this ‘safe alternate escape route’ as
    the SAIR would have us believe.

    I still don’t think anyone involved with the SAIT and their investigation ACTUALLY
    walked this ‘alternate escape route’.

    If they had, they would not have described it the way they did in the SAIR report.

    You can also see clearly in the final seconds of the video how that the final
    stretch to the ranch would have been one ‘helluva’ ride for them. They would
    have had to turn due north and head right at the fire which would have probably
    been just reaching the northern perimeter of the ranch clearing itself.

    The path along the final 200 yards to the ranch is NOT well-defined. It
    would have been very confusing to them given all the smoke that they
    certainly would have had to contend with… and would have also involved a
    mad dash through some of the heaviest unburned fuel and manzanita in the
    whole area near the ranch. It might even have been ‘lighting up’ around them
    already due to spotting from the wind driven fireline coming right at them.

    They MIGHT have made it… but they would have STILL been breaking almost
    every rule in the book the whole time they were on this route even if they had
    chosen to go this way.

    No ‘eyes on the fire’, unburned fuel all around them the whole way, no one
    knowing where they are, etc. etc.

    No mention of this in the SAIR, of course.

  61. calvin says

    Jim Karels Said…”It would be real easy to say, ‘This is exactly what happened and these are why decisions were made and this is something to blame,'” Karels said. “But all 19 are gone. So we reconstructed an event based on the best knowledge we had.”
    Mr Karels, thanks for pointing out that all 19 of the dead Granite Mountain Hotshots are dead. Remember, there were 20 Granite Mountain Hotshots. One Granite Mountain Hotshot is alive, and so is the Wildland Division Chief, whom Granite Mountain Hotshots Superintendent Eric Marsh, reported to, DIRECTLY. And he WAS WORKING on the Yarnell Hill Fire JUNE 30 2013!

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      This is NOT the loss of ‘an entire crew of Hotshots’.

      One of them is still very much alive…

      …and he had nothing to do after leaving his lookout post but be
      driving the GM Supervisor truck and listening closely to the radio
      during the entire mysterious ‘discussing their options’ and
      ‘comfort level’ discussions.

      • calvin says

        Another minor detail…. Once Mcdonough was dropped off at Eric’s truck. Frisby went to get other drivers to move GM buggies. Did Mcdonough head on over to the Ranch House then?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          I doubt it. The Tom Story photograph shows both
          McDonough ( in the GM Supervisor truck ) and
          BOTH GM Crew Carriers 7A and 7B paused in
          the ‘staging area’ where the Shrine road meets
          Highway 89. Every vehicle in that photo would
          then momentarily leave there and head south
          on Highway 89 for the Ranch House Restaurant.

          That means that Brendan EXITED the area
          via the Shrine Road… which means he did,
          in fact, wait where the GM vehicles were parked
          out on Sesame for the GM crew members
          to return, and then they ALL drove over to the
          Shrine area together.

          Don’t forget… Brendan was clueless about the
          roads around there. That wasn’t his job in the
          morning and he had no idea it would BECOME
          his job to be moving all the vehicles by himself
          later in the day.

          The GM Crew Carriers got to their parking spot
          that morning by coming out Lakewood Drive
          in Glen Ilah and passing by Chief Andersen’s
          home at 8:03 AM.

          Brendan never saw the ‘cutover’ road that he
          would need to take later that day to get over
          to the Shrine area from where the GM vehicles
          were parked.

          So he MUST have waited for the BR guys to
          get back before moving the vehicles… and
          he followed them over to the Shrine area on
          that cutover road because otherwise, he would
          have had no idea how to get over there ( to
          the Shrine area ).

          • Joy A Collura and Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan says

            Buford of Yarnell states the man Jim next to Helm’s saw Brendan drive out and that is not off the Shrine area but over near Sesame area—he stated the look Brendan had is worth you all reaching Jim to go over his testimony of that moment.

  62. Robert the Second says

    The Blue Ribbon Fire (link below) of June 20, 2011 that Karels refers to is a STRAW MAN or RED HERRING fallacy as far as I’m concerned. There is no comparison here to the YHF. In that report the SAIT at least utilize the 10 and 18 as objective standards of comparison to what they should have done and died because they did and didn’t do.something required of them as wildland firemen.


    On page 28 of the Blue Ribbon Fire investigative report is the SAIT’s Letter of Direction; and they were directed to determine among other things, human factors. That was NOT done on the YHF.

  63. Robert the Second says

    I just read the Wilfire Today piece and SAIT Team Leader Jim Karels suggests Groupthink with this statement, “the fact that all 19 firefighters died together while making decisions on their own and separately” is VERY similar to what Darrell Willis said at the news conference at the fatality site when he talked about this fire being ‘unique in that all 19 firefighters saw and felt the same way.’ That is Groupthink to me.

    And the SAIT NEVER allowed one of their SME’s (Subject Matter Expert), Dr.Jennifer Ziegler, one of the primier Human Factors specialists in the US, the opportunity to interview any of the witnesses! NONE OF THEM! That suggests to me that they DON’T WANT TO KNOW. I call it ‘selective interviews.’ Counter to satandard investigative procedures, they ‘establish a conclusion first, then ….’

    • Bob Powers says

      I agree with the group think. Also I think we have all come to the conclusion that they had a conclusion and made or manipulated the evidence to justify it. Not using any thing that did not follow there scenario of events. In so doing they made a lot of errors in the evidence which dose not match on different parts of the investigation report. Even what Mr. Karels said in the interview is different from the report. If they did not tell the OPS1 where they were going why not just say that (because it assigns blame?) So we go off chasing rabbits (GPS tracking) and not open communications with your supervisor (OPS1). OPS1 holds some of the blame for no direct contact with each of his DIV’s to discuss their options, they report directly to him. Communications is both ways at that point and part of the job description.

      • calvin says

        Mr Powers, Thanks for sharing your personal experience, you have more “skin in the game” than anyone here! Also thanks for acknowledging OPS1 had an obligation or some responsibility to know where and what his subordinates were doing. But lets move forward, Pii of SAIR shows the Granite Mountain Crew Carriers approximately 0.8 miles from deployment site!!!! WTKTT…. Can you confirm this distance via Google Earth? I am more of a map guy and I am going by this diagram and the attached scale at bottom of page. Now, if you overlay the landmarks from this diagram over the fire progression map (on p81 SAIR) it would appear the estimated time the fire line took over the GM crew carrier parking area was 1622. The approximate time the fire hit the deployment site being 1642 (For the sake of easy math.) IF this is accurate, The fire progressed 0.8 miles in 20 minutes (1622-1642) or 3mph.
        BUT. P24 SAIR has DIV A saying the fire is almost as far as the GM vehicles at about 1555-1600. A full 20 plus minutes before the Fire progression chart indicates.
        At NO time during the day, ACCORDING TO MY INTERPRETAION of pii and P81 of SAIR does the fire move at a pace of 11mph. If I am wrong PLEASE TELL ME!

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          >> calvin wrote…
          >> Pii of SAIR shows the Granite Mountain
          >> Crew Carriers approximately 0.8 miles from
          >> deployment site!!!! WTKTT…. Can you
          >> confirm this distance via Google Earth?

          0.8 miles is pretty close, calvin.


          Parked in a clearing just to the south of about
          a 16 foot tree with two other small trees by it…

          34.227975, -112.769274

          Google Earth 3D view at this exact point is a
          match between this exact location and the
          Collura photo that shows the parked Carriers
          including the rock rock-piles to the east of where
          the Carriers are parked.


          Figure 3 on page 82 is the SAIR’s own Google
          Maps closeup of the actual deployment site.

          The exact center of the ‘little white box’ they
          have drawn on top of this photo of the ‘clearing’
          depicting the deployment area is…

          34.220469, -112.777613

          The exact linear distance ( as the bird flies )
          between these two points is…

          3715.81 feet
          1238.60 yards
          0.7037 mile(s)

          So it’s about 1/10 of a mile closer than you
          had it.. but that won’t change your calculations

          Keep in mind… they MAY have ended up with
          evidence that the fire around the deployment site
          was traveling at 12 mph AT SOME POINT…

          …but it is not possible for it to have been at
          this speed when Steed first saw it, called in
          the first MAYDAY, began preparing the
          deployment site, had their final transmissions,
          and then still had almost 2 minutes ( as the
          SAIR describes this timeframe ).

          If it had actually already been traveling at
          12 mph at the moment Steed said he first
          saw the flames through the smoke… it would
          have overtaken them in SECONDS and not
          MINUTES as the SAIR goes on to describe.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          calvin… see another longer post just below about
          whether the fireline could have been traveling at
          12 MPH when Steed first saw it.

          Basically impossible.

          If it had already been at 12 MPH when he first
          saw it then it would have still been 1,056 yards
          ( 3,168 feet ) away from him.

          That puts it at a point so far northeast of him
          that he couldn’t have possibly seen it from
          the deployment location… or at a point so far
          due east that it would have been setting the
          Boulder Springs Ranch itself on fire and
          still not have been anywhere near him.

    • Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan and Joy A Collura says

      reply to Robert the Second on November 30, 2013 at 2:37 pm said:
      you are correct she did not interview us but the nations best and lead fire fatality expert Ted Putnam not only spent one day going over in person photos and speaking with us but he took the hike and he can give you the “human factor” for us the eye-witness to the Yarnell Fire and the fire itself- You are right no one from the 9-28-13 report sat with us in person and we did get a phone call from Tim Foley & Zimmerman & Richa Wilson & their meteorologist expert Brett- but no person was named as you state above ever met with us or spoke too us- Dr. Jennifer Ziegler. See Jim Karels- elements like this is the things I call the report vague.

  64. Robert the Second says


    Have you time-lined the Matt Oss time-lapse video yet?

    Just re-watch that and you’ll see the smoke column(s) they saw. It would’ve been hard to miss those unless you were right down in a canyon. And it would’ve sounded like a ‘freight train’ or a bunch of jets taking off or landing.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I’ve done a lot of work with the Matt Oss video, including the
      high-res version available on his own site.

      I’m not ready to publish any of my results yet because they
      conflict with what some ‘expert’ had to say in a well-read
      article about this video that has already been published
      over at WildFire today.

      I want to be really sure about anything I say about it before
      I present my results.

      I think BOTH the photos taken from that video published in
      the SAIR and a lot of what was said in the WildFire today
      article is not accurate.

      Has to do with TIMES, and locations in the distance where
      the fire is cresting the ridge(s) actually being the location(s)
      they say they are.

      Example: The location for where the video was shot as
      published in the WildFire today article is NOT where that
      video was actually taken. It was much farther west than
      where they say it was and that changes the perspective
      in the distance and the actual location of the fire points
      coming over the ridge(s).

      • Bob Powers says

        What would we do without you. You are way beyond my capabilities. Hopefully some day you will tell us who you are and not shoot us.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Big caveat here… the WildFire Today article is not
        FUNDAMENTALLY wrong with their analysis of the
        Matt Oss video… especially about the ‘vortex’ analysis
        and the visible evidence of how that whole canyon
        turned into a ‘chimney’ that was ‘drafting’. There are
        just some details that might need refining.

        This is not a contest. We all want the same thing.
        More accuracy, less questions, more answers.
        More truth.

  65. Robert the Second says

    Yes, pretty blind. You hike from their lunch spot SZ along their handline to the midslope road and have a good view still of the basin below You then climb a slight hill, but once you bail off this and drop down from there into the small swales and saddles you loose sight of the basin below.

    They would have needed a Lookout, and even he would have had to ‘high point’ in order to see the fire as it rounded the bend before aligning with the bowl. On top of the rocky knob on their left would have accorded the best view. But that puts the Lookout in a peculiar place, in the unburned.

      • says

        Bob Powerson November 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm said:

        You might want to check the new article in wildfire today. The lead investigator was interviewed.

        our reply- how does Jim sleep at night? It is sad how someone can stand by the vague report in the manner he is…they put out a dangerous report by labeling people versus using real names and what did that do throw people who was not even on the fire that weekend under the bus and people dissected when they have no role in the Yarnell Hill Fire that weekend. This man; the LEAD man to the investigation never contacted us or any other eye-witness accounts for that weekend. He never walked to see what we saw. Yet he was okay to put out a photo-shop images to the report as they did. Someone on a hike told us they did not list all the vehicles and aircrafts that we have photos of and what their agenda was for the fire that weekend. He is okay to publicly state the people in charge of the fire “thought and assumed” yet have no documentation proof as my photos do show a lot even though it is boring to review- it reveals much to the weekend not from highway 89 views or residential views but right there at the fire edge. It is okay that this past May 2013 YCSO found civilian Joy on a health concern using her cell phone to locate her gps coordinates but when someone is yelling on the radio on a very serious fire and the gap in communication not one person that oversees these men that weekend thought to use YCSO gps locator system? No one. Oh yeah because they ASSUMED they were safe. Well, there is lessons in this—don’t think to assume—find out factually all is fine. That article disgusted us. Why come back out and state you support it again…

    • says

      Joy has hiked it hundreds and hundreds of times before and after the fire and agrees with this man’s view and Sonny hiked it a few times before and hundreds after and as well agrees with this man’s view. Once you go down the saddle- you are out of view of the fire hence why Sonny insisted we remain HIGH, drop to the Congress side for a bit and end up out by the dirt area behind Candie Cane Lane heading to Foothills where Sonny was parked. Sonny placed us in a longer steeper harder going less fuel terrain yet we are both to here to share to you about it and any fire expert that went the way Joy wanted to go down agreed Joy would of perished as well as the nineteen men. Indeed when we both saw no accountability on the part of the fire management team (safety officer(s)) for that fire that weekend 6-28 until the tragedy 6-30 on the 9-28-13 report we felt that if YCSO can get Joy’s gps coordinates from a cell in May 2013 coming from Prescott to Congress (health concern matter) than indeed the fire management or the safety officer could of done the same thing by having the YCSO get these elite mens’ gps location so they could either save them or drop retardant in that area. We are not at all comfortable with the vague report. Some say they did not think to use YCSO because they assumed the men were going to come out any second—well, maybe that is the lesson in it—do not assume. Be like Joy always; worst case scenario girl. As I hike and journey I always look at the worst case scenario. That day of the fire I did not foresee any worst case scenarios in the light like Sonny so even I can misjudge a day and that is because I never “experienced” terrain fire behavior like Sonny has to his life when he use to live in a canvas tent growing up in Lordsburg/Big Burro areas of New Mexico and they being his parents and his brother and two sisters all living in a canvas tent and after that phase to life they being his lovely wife and their four children in a canvas tent setting for many of years. His father was a miner/banjo player in a band/rock shop-trading post-gas station owner and his dad refused to blend into modern society just as Sonny has done the same for his own life and those two would fight lightning strike fires as he grew up so he knew it because he lived it and experienced it—Joy never did. So even thinking worst case scenarios—it takes life experience too. That is what makes us a good hiking duo. He knows things I do not and I know things he probably wishes I did not tell him like having to have a permit to even walk the areas where the nineteen died. He thinks he is grandfathered in to a lot to life and Joy has him legal all over the place just something mandatory Joy says if he is her long term hiking pal.

  66. Robert the Second says


    You said “in other words… for perhaps MORE THAN HALF of their trek south towards the canyon… they would have actually had a BETTER view of the fire out in the ‘middle bowl’ than they did from the spot where the video was taken.”

    Having been on the site hiking it twice and reviewing GE just now again, I will have to disagree with you. There was probably half of the time where you could NOT see the basin where the fire was once they left their good black SZ. You have the small rocky ridges and hills off your left shoulder blocking your view AND you drop down into small, subtle swales and saddles before you actually get to the drop off point above The Ranch. The main obstacles are the rocky ridge and knob off your left shoulder after the high point you refer to all the way to the drop off point.

    • Bob Powers says

      So they were blind and really not their own lookouts for most of there hike down the ridge as the SAIR suggests they were their own lookout, not a good situation why continue?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      RTS… thank you. So… we are actually pretty much in agreement?
      I said ‘more’ than half the way. You are verifying ‘half the way’.

      So is it fair to say that for HALF the walk from where they started
      moving south at 4:05 PM ( according to the SAIR ) to the point
      where they dropped into the canyone ( at 4:20 PM according
      to the SAIR )… they would have had a ‘pretty good’ view of
      that middle basin where the fire was advancing south?

      If so… then we are actually talking about them losing real
      ‘eyes on the fire’ at 4:12 or 4:13 PM.

      I’ve been spending a lot of time with the SAIR’s own ‘fireline
      progression’ chart on page 81 of the report and transposing
      all their established fireline boundaries into Google Earth
      3D to see what they ( probably ) actually could see or not
      at what times from what places.

      As far as that goes… the SAIR itself seems to suggest that
      this fire started ‘taking off’ across that bowl at ever increasing
      speed in the actual 4:05 to 4:15 timeframe.

      So if they had ANY visibility on that middle bowl for ANY time
      after 4:05 PM… they actually SHOULD have been able to
      see it ‘picking up speed’ dramatically down in that middle
      bowl and they SHOULD have adjusted their plans accordingly.

      No.. they could NOT have seen it beginning to ‘curl around’
      and approach the mouth of the canyon they were going
      to try to get through… they would have lost ‘eyes on the fire’
      by that time because of the very features you mention…

      …but there SHOULD have at least been time for them to
      see how it was ‘picking up speed’ in a dramatic way down
      in that middle bowl… BEFORE they lost actual sight of it.

      More to come on this… stay tuned.

  67. Bob Powers says

    I had a dream last night that brought back old memories.
    What’s the difference between good green and bad green?
    Bad green is burning like hell all around you.
    There is never any good green between you and a fire.
    Hopefully that will answer the SAIR’s Question………..
    If you ask that question after 100 years of wild land fire fighting you don’t belong on a investigation team.

  68. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    The closest the SAIR comes to identifying the ACTUAL time of the
    burnover event is when they report Marsh’s final radio communication
    of ‘Affirm!’ at (about?) 1642 ( 4:42 PM ) and then they say that the men had
    ‘less than 2 minutes to finish preparing the deployment site’.

    Page 28 of the SAIR…

    :: ASM2: “Okay copy that. So you’re on the south side of the fire then?”
    :: At about 1642, DIVS A yells: “Affirm!”

    That was the final radio message from Marsh.

    Then on page 31 of the SAIR… in their summary… this is said…

    :: The crew had less than two minutes to improve a shelter deployment site by
    :: using chain saws and burning out. The crew was deploying their fire shelters
    :: close together in a small area when the fire overtook them.

    So… ‘overtook them’ WHEN? Exactly what TIME?

    How did the SAIR arrive at their own ‘less than two minutes’ timeframe?

    Do they have access to ‘time of death’ information that has never been
    published… and that is why they are sure of their ‘less than two minutes’

    It’s hard to say ( the SAIR doesn’t provide any sources for just about
    anything they are asserting ).

    The SAIR is establishing, then, that the burnonver was at 1644 ( 4:44 PM )…
    but other independent reports and some major media articles have put
    it as late as 4:55 PM ( A full 11 minutes after that ).

    As it turns out… the MacKenzie photographs and video from the 4:02
    timeframe now prove that at least two of the firefighters were actually
    wearing wrist watches. ( See post not too far above ).

    So… were any of these wrist watches recovered from the scene and
    entered into evidence?

    Answer is: YES… at least one of them.

    From page 9 of Detective J McDormett’s YCSO investigation summary…

    :: On 07/10/13 I went to evidence and I was told that the state investigators had
    :: removed some personal items from the shelters while they were inspecting
    :: them. The items were taken from the shelters that were collected at the
    :: scene on 7/3 and have not been associated with any fire fighter at this point.
    :: I assigned numbers to each item and photographed each item. I gave Lt.
    :: Boelts copies of the photos for possible identification purposes. A watch
    :: from shelter #304 was assigned #321. A knife from shelter 306 was
    :: assigned #323. From shelter #305 a cell phone (320) and a knife (322)
    :: were removed. It should be noted that we did not previously attempt to
    :: remove any items attached to the shelters as we left those items in place
    :: for the state investigators.

    So they DID recover at least one ‘watch’ from a shelter found at the
    scene that (apparently) didn’t have a firefighter in it so it became one
    of those empty shelters that was sent to the medical examiner’s
    office (empty) in a separate body bag.

    This firefighter wrist watch was entered into evidence as item #304.

    First big question about that would be…

    Was the watch digitial or analog?
    If digital… was it still functional and ‘stuck’ on a certain display time?
    If analog… were the hands frozen in place at a specific time?

    If the answer is ‘yes’ to either of those questions… than that would represent
    the ACTUAL burnonver moment and (probably) within a few seconds of
    the time of death for at least one of the firefighters.

    Second big question…

    How would a wristwatch have become separated from a firefighter
    in those final moments only to be found later, by itself, hiding in an
    empty shelter that didn’t even have a firefighter in it?

    I don’t have any idea. Anyone else want to try that one?

    • Bob Powers says

      That amount of heat with a plastic or rubber watch band could have melted off the wrist stuck to the shelter where the persons hand was holding the shelter down before the shelter was blown off and stayed stuck to the shelter.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        You are right. That’s probably the explanation.

        The YCSO report also said that ‘photographs were taken’
        of the actual items found in the shelters as they were
        entered into evidence.

        Even if the item was returned to a family once identified,
        I wonder if the ( close up? ) photographs would still
        show a TIME on the face of the watch.

        Still depends whether it was a digital or analog watch,
        I suppose.

        I would still like the EXACT time of the burnover to
        be established, somehow.

        • Bob Powers says

          The items would have been returned to the family based on what I know. Sad but mementos, all my mom got was a belt buckle some change and an FS badge. Brought back a sad memory sorry. This fire has just done that to me.

  69. Bob Powers says

    2 very interesting deniability statements
    Pg. 37 bottom of page
    What they likely knew
    They had attempted to communicate their movement to other resources on the fire……………….Where and when did they due that??

    Pg. 38 They contradicted them self’s on the actual wind change at 1620
    the wind was not blowing (south southeast) but had turned and was coming out of the north directly at the crew on the ridge as shown in their own maps at between 20 and 30 mph it would have been hard to miss that wind shift while they were on the ridge. also the fire growth between 1615 and 1630 was significant.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      ‘attempted’ is certainly not the same thing as ‘succeeded’.
      We all know that now.

      Is the SAIR, itself, just trying to describe the reality that any
      number of people on the command channel DID hear them
      say they were ‘moving’… but the most important who needed
      to know that ( OPS1 ) was clueless?

      Why didn’t they make sure they got a ‘Copy that’ from
      OPS1 himself? Clear violation of the ‘C’ in LCES?

      Re: The Wind.

      It is perfectly obvious where the wind was pushing the fire
      when you look at the 4:02 MacKenzie photos and video.
      You can SEE the smoke column changing from the
      vertical to the horizontal and starting to ‘lay down’ out
      there in that middle bowl.

      ALL of the firefighters in the video ( Steed included ) are
      doing nothing but staring right at the fire and the smoke
      starting to ‘lay down’. How could they possibly not have
      seen what we ourselves can now see from the exact
      same vantage point.

      >> the fire growth between 1615 and 1630 was significant.

      Yes, it was, and even though they WOULD lost ‘sight of it’
      at some point while heading south on that high ridge road,
      the truth is that there is a certain timeframe here during
      their trek south towards the canyon when they would
      NOT have lost ‘eyes on the fire’.

      From the spot where the 4:02 PM video was taken south
      towards the spot where they would leave the road and
      drop into the canyon… the trail actually goes UP in
      elevation as it curves around a large hill that was just
      south of where the video was shot.

      In other words… for perhaps MORE THAN HALF of their
      trek south towards the canyon… they would have actually
      had a BETTER view of the fire out in the ‘middle bowl’ than
      they did from the spot where the video was taken.

      So it’s ridiculous to say that at 4:05 PM, when the SAIR
      says they left the spot where the video was taken, they
      somehow immediately lost ‘eyes on the fire’ for the full
      15 minutes it would take them to get down to the point
      where they dropped into the canyon. ( SAIR says this
      descent happened at 4:20 PM ).

      Absolutely NOT the case.

      The only thing that is certain is that they lost ALL eyes
      on the fire when they dropped into the canyon.

      For the 15 minutes between 4:05 PM when they started
      south and 4:20 when they reached the descent point…

      …not so much. As far as I can tell ( more research needed
      on this )… the only way they could have not still been able
      to see what the fire was doing down in the middle bowl
      for almost the full 15 minutes they were walking south to
      the descent point is if they simply didn’t even bother to
      look over their left shoulders.

    • mike says

      When I was looking at the report yesterday and saw that on page 37. I thought the same thing, when the heck did that occur?

      • Bob Powers says

        Even though the report says that the lead investigator makes some remarks that no one knew where GM was and a tracking devise would have solved that. My point has always been communicate what you plan to do with your supervisor and adjoining foresees. The SAIR says one thing and then the lead investigator says something different when interviewed. Very strange or just the new way of no one is to blame.

  70. Robert the Second says


    Thanks for clearing up the ‘second video’ thing for me and others I’m sure, because I certainly was wondering.

    WTKTT said “… the ‘removal’ of the chaps and the ‘stowing’ of them is more proof positive that Chrisopher MacKenzie’s 4:02 still photos and videos represent the moment(s) when they KNEW they were ‘done for the day’ out there… were ‘settling in’ to just watch the fire… and they really had no clue ‘what was coming next’.”

    Not so sure on the ‘proof positive.’ First off, he’s NOT removing them but only adjusting them. They are not buckled around his legs as they would be if he was cutting or swamping. As far as them moving or going anywhere based on his action, or settling in, it’s hard to tell. Sawyers/swampers often wore their chaps like that when not ‘working with the saws’ because it was more comfortable and it accorded them less time to buckle them up when it was time to use the saws.

    I don’t think that they think they’re ‘done for the day’, only that they are doing what they’re doing (kicking it) until further notice. Or as I used to say, “you’re here and this is where you are, doing whatever you’re doing,” which totally begs the question.

    As far as what’s coming next? Whoever had a radio or was near a radio to hear it, or a cell phone conversation would know the answer to that question. The missing “conversation overheard by the lookout on the intra-crew frequency between DIVS A and GM Captain discussing their options” conundrum and possible malfeasance by someone.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Good points, Mr. Powers… especially the last one.

      There really never has been any doubt ( even though I think we
      have now proven it here over and over ) that Brendan McDonough
      heard EVERY WORD of both the mysterious ‘discussing their
      options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions over the radio.

      The SAIR SAYS that HE DID!

      They just blow right past that and continue on with their
      confusing, perplexing narrative.

      Somewhere… there is a TRANSCRIPT of McDonough’s
      ACTUAL deposition / testimony to that official State of
      Arizona investigation.

      • Bob Powers says

        They never released any of the statements or transcripts which are evidence and if the Media cant get them the attorneys will. Hopefully we will then get to see them.

  71. J. Stout says

    Have a question that is outside the current topic but it is one that I have been wondering about for some time now: Has it ever come to be known whether or not any of the GM crew happened to have friends/relatives who were (are) home owners in either Yarnell or Glen Ilah?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      It’s a good question. Was there, in fact, a PERSONAL
      component involved here in deciding to break almost
      every rule in the book?

      How friendly were Willis and Chief Andersen?

      I thought I read something about Andersen having TRAINED
      with or under Chief Darrell Willis, or something?

      Chief Andersen lived in Glen Ilah… right there on Lakewood Drive.

      His home was under direct threat circa the 3:50 to 4:00 PM
      timeframe ( when the decision to move south was made ) and
      Willis would have known this.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        My own followup on this… I can find no evidence of any
        kind of close relationship between Chief Willis and
        Chief Andersen… but there is this quote directly
        above in the same article above by Mr. Dougherty that
        we are all actually still commenting on here…

        Chief Andersen evacuated from his home about the
        same time that the Granite Mountain crew deployed their
        fire shelters designed to withstand temperatures of
        about 300 degrees. “The heat was so intense that it
        was choking me,” Andersen says. “I could see [the fire]
        coming over the ridge . . . and you couldn’t see the top
        of the column of smoke. And it was starting to slowly
        spin . . . like a slow tornado, throwing embers

    • Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan says

      yes. stop by the local Yarnell Bar THE PLACE when Barb is there- she can tell you.
      reply to J. Stout on November 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm said

    • calvin says

      J Stout, I have thought of this a lot also. I think any personal ties with the residents of this Glen Isla could be relevant. I also would like to have more information on the intrapersonal relationships between the crew members of GMIHC and the other staff on the fire that day.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Sorry, Mr. Powers… calvin and I started using terms like
      ‘first video’ and ‘second video’ in our discussion above when
      we really should have stuck with saying…

      The FIRST video clip in the (only) published MacKenzie video
      The SECOND video clip in the (only) published MacKenzie video.

      We are supposed to believe that Christopher ONLY took
      two separate 9 seconds videos at 4:02 that afternoon.

      The Prescott Daily Courier just used the YouTube online
      video editor to ‘paste those two videos together’ into just
      one single video when they ‘published’ it on the morning
      the SAIR report came out. ( Actually, an hour BEFORE
      the report came out ).

      I believe there is more video.
      I believe no one shoots just separate 9 second video
      clips when they have obviously decided to try and
      ‘capture a complete moment’ with video/audio.

      But there is still only ONE ‘video’ that has been published
      so far. It just contains the two separate 9 second clips
      sewn together with a ‘manual fade’ that was inserted
      by whoever was ‘editing’ that video.

      There are only maybe a dozen or two seconds of video
      that may have been ‘cut out’ between those two clips…
      but I believe just those 1-2 dozen of seconds of AUDIO
      would tell us what we need to know.

      WHY did they decide to leave there and go die?

  72. calvin says

    Correction to what I said yesterday. The red headed hotshot that is messing with his gloves ( and I questioned it being Zuppiger) is actually Deford according to the picture. Sorry I overlooked that. WTKTT… I see what you are saying, he is messing with gloves but maybe not securing them, dunno. Also, You refer to the hotshot standing to the far right of the second video as being Ashcraft. I think Ashcraft is actually sitting between Deford and Parker. I also think the hotshot that is down the hill and then moves back just to the left of Steed is Caldwell, thoughts? I think the hotshot on the left side of Parker in video #1 is Zuppiger? That leaves the two hotshots standing to Steeds right to be identified (Misner and Thurston?). Also the hotshot sitting alone below everyone, and the other guy standing off to the far left, alone hasn’t been identified. WTKTT… can you identify all of these guys and confirm my thoughts or show me otherwise.
    WTKTT… I have been looking at the other set of pictures from Mackenzie from the couple of weeks prior to the incident. I find it interesting that they are not time stamped at all, only dated. Otherwise the information is formatted the same.
    *Image 0388 or, the one from the SAIR* I think it sucks that we are having to accept the SAIR changed the time on this photo just to justify that it did in fact come from the camera. Why didn’t they change the time to 1553 (and leave it in the sequence)and save the anguish? What is your reasoning to believe this is actually the missing image 0388 from camera instead of from Mackenzie”s cell phone? You may have already explained this and I just cant find it, if so, sorry. The YSCO report details the evidence collection (or more accurately McDermett”s involvement) through July 10. The DVD with the camera pictures and video were given to Willis on July 13 according to the article. The YCSO report makes absolutely no mention of this camera. So lets say the camera was only discovered on July 11, and then image 0388 was REMOVED from the camera, given to the ME office who gives it to Mike Mackenzie (but continues to hold the cell phone), Then Mackenzie makes a copy onto a DVD, passes it to Willis, and Willis passes it to the SAIT and the SAIT CHANGE the time just to support the narrative . This is the sequence we are left to believe. Why would Mike Mackenzie give Willis a DVD copy, that will be turned over to investigators, and then give the originals to the Daily Courier?
    Maybe I am just chasing my tail but I think it is important to identify all the hotshots in this set of photos and videos. I think (not sure) the same hotshots seen in the final videos and photos are the same hotshots photographed earlier in the day.

  73. Robert the Second says

    WTKTT and Calvin,

    The red-head ff’s ‘bag’ that you refer to is actually a pair of chainsaw chaps that he’s adjusting, so he is either a sawyer or a swamper.

    The red helmet ff is mostly likely GMHS Captain Steed.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      RTS… thank you… so from what you are telling us… the ‘removal’
      of the chaps and the ‘stowing’ of them is more proof positive
      that Chrisopher MacKenzie’s 4:02 still photos and videos
      represent the moment(s) when they KNEW they were
      ‘done for the day’ out there… were ‘settling in’ to just watch
      the fire… and they really had no clue ‘what was coming next’.

      That means somewhere in these photos and video(s),
      Christopher captured the ‘decision to go somewhere else’

      I still think it’s possible he DECIDED to start recording
      video ( and AUDIO ) the moment he started hearing
      that ‘comfort level’ discussion between Steed/Marsh,
      and Christopher just had a bad feeling about it and
      thought he BETTER record the ‘audio’ there.

      I still think there is more video/audio.

      If the SAIT would obviously just change times on critical
      photos by 12 minutes just to make one of their pages
      look good… ( Page 23 )… why would they hesitate to prevent
      some video segments from going public because it would
      blow ‘their story’?

      Answer: They would NOT. They would make sure the only
      information to ever be released is just stuff that completely
      backs up the story THEY decided to tell.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        SIDENOTE: It should be noted that while we now have
        photographic evidence of SOME of the ‘sawyers’
        removing and stowing their chaps at that ‘resting place’
        up in the black on the high ridge…

        …the SAIR report’s own section about the position of
        the shelters and the evidence found at the deployment
        site indicates that SOME of the firefighters were, in
        fact, still wearing their chaps during the burnover and
        that they were ‘charred’ in various places.

        So not all the sawyers thought they were ‘done for the
        day’ in the 4:02 timeframe… or maybe they all did
        but some didn’t bother taking their chaps off at that time.

  74. Bob Powers says

    Mike– We know that OPS1 told the crew to get in the black and hunker down.
    Every one thought that’s where they were, except Wills
    (we heard they were moving south) strange since he was not part of there chain of command and would have herd that only on inter crew or a local freq. as no one else has stated they heard that. A key piece of evidence. If he talked to OPS! on the fire freq. every one would have herd it. OPS1 would not have had their crew freq.. As he would not have BR’s crew freq.
    Willis would have had it on his portable and possibly his vehicle since he was there immediate supervisor. Key piece of evidence we need to find out I’m guessing he did. And here lies the unheard discussion except for McDonough, the other part of we?

    • mike says

      So Willis would not have needed a cell phone to talk to the crew that day, I am not sure I understood that before. He says he did not (at least that afternoon). Only he and presumably McDonough are alive to know the truth. And no examination of cell phone records would help us if he did.

      • Bob Powers says

        And you only have two people to tell you if the discussion took place on the inter crew radio. no one else would have copied it. BR had their own inter crew freq. and no one was copying it. Each hot shot crew has a different freq. assigned for their inter crew channel.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Mr. Powers… I am with you that the WE that
          Willis slipped on in his public video presentation(s)
          to the media at the deployment site could most
          definitely just be referring to…

          Himself and Brendan McDonough.

          The only two people left alive whose radios would
          have been programmed that day with the actual
          GM intra-crew frequency.

          It’s possible Willis just ‘slipped’ in public and
          was recalling some private conversation he
          had with McDonough in the days following the
          incident when they were both recounting
          to each other what they both ACTUALLY heard.

          The BOTH heard this crucial ‘discussing their
          options’ conversation out on that ridge… and
          the entire ‘comfort level’ discussion that the
          SAIT has only given us a ‘hint’ of in the limited
          seconds of video they decided to release.

          So Darell’s WE means… “Me and McDonough”.

          Makes sense.

          • Bob Powers says

            It would also make since that they sat and talked with each other about the day and the deaths, since they were the remaining members of the crew. They would have leaned on each other for support and possible protective information. In other words the senior would have coached the Jr. crewman. Possibly before they released any statements to the investigation. A lot of assumption with out evidence but plausible. Also the inter crew radio would have allowed Steed to have heard the conversation, which Marsh and Steed then commented on in the peace of video before they moved. The whole crew would have heard the conversation as well, including McDonough. This I believe would explain a lot more than a cell phone call.

  75. mike says

    Every bone in my body tells me you are right. But then I go back to the MacKenzie video, the most crucial piece of physical evidence to date as far as motivation. At 1602, they are sitting there, discussing future action. At 1604, they are on the move, headed to their deaths. No waiting around, no “get in line”, no “make sure you have everything”. Maybe the hurry was knowing they had to race the fire. Anyways, this crucial piece of evidence is altered. Certainly with the fade in the middle, also the start and the end could be missing. Why? By whom? When?. Maybe it means nothing, but for this to happen with this crucial evidence is a major red flag. What is in the missing part(s)? And for it to show up on the morning the SAIR was released is beyond odd – do not know what that means either. If I was an investigator who wanted to know the truth, I would be dying to find the original.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Even the very existence of the MacKenzie evidence ( photos
      and video/audio ) was being hidden from the public for more
      than 2+ months.

      The release of ALL of this ‘evidence’ at the same time just
      makes it perfectly obvious that ALL of this was totally
      ‘orchestrated’ by the SAIT people.

      Keep in mind… the moment the MacKenzie material was
      published by the Prescott Daily Courier ( the only paper
      in the only city that has a LOT to lose here, financially )
      it already had filename ID stamps ( the photos with actual
      Canon Powershot image filename sequence names )
      and the ‘already edited’ video.

      The information was also released with some very detailed
      descriptions accompanying the photos including exact
      identifications of most of the firefighters in the photos.

      Only the SAIT ( or Willis or McDonough? ) could have supplied
      the Courier with a lot ( or all? ) of that detailed information that
      accompanied the release and that work didn’t happen
      overnight, either.

      Someone had been working closely with the Courier in
      the days/weeks prior to the ‘orchestrated’ release of both
      the SAIT and the previously unknown-to-the-public
      Christopher MacKenzie evidence.

      It was one gigantic, orchestrated, coordinated MEDIA DUMP.

      It was ( and has been ) all just one big dog-and-pony with
      a pre-determined story behind it whose only intent was to
      minimize ( or eliminate ) any legal liability for anyone that
      had anything to do with this.

  76. Rocksteady says

    Not to detract from this discussion and all the good details we are seeing, as well as the probing questions the details are raising, but….

    Does anyone know how the OSHA investigation is progressing?

    Rumours, leaked info?

    Just wondering..

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Arizona’s OSHA board is managed totally by the ICA
      ( Industrial Commission of Arizona ).

      The main (official) web page for AOSHA is here…


      Their meetings are public, and take place 2.-3 times per month.

      You can see what their own discussion of their own
      investigator’s report to ‘the commission’ will look like by
      reading any of the prior ‘minutes’ of any meeting.

      On the menu on the left side of the page at the site
      above… just pick this sequence…

      Second option from the top of menu…

      Commission Meetings

      Then pick either ‘Agendas’ or ‘Minutes’.

      Each copy of the minutes of the last commission meeting
      always ends with reminding the commissioners exactly
      when the NEXT (public) meeting takes place.

      I’ve been following the minutes of these meetings since
      the summer. They are NOT discussing the Yarnell
      incident at all… but that’s not really unusual.

      Once they fire up an investigation… they just wait until
      the investigators are done and then they have to present
      their findings to the commission in one of these
      publicly recorded meetings.

      If you read any of the other minutes you will find that these
      people actually deal with DEATH on a regular basis. MOST
      of the incidents they have to investigate involve one or
      more deaths… and sometimes in ways far more horrible
      than what happened in Yarnell.

      So these people are not going to flinch about finding fault.

      At least… their past history doesn’t indicate that they will.
      We shall see.

  77. Gary Olson says

    WTKTT said, Just ask yourself… “Who would even have the motivation to play with the photo timestamps to make them fit an agenda?”

    I think you have been watching too many movies. They are not that good or smart. Think “The Pink Panther”, not “Enemy Of The State”. They’re only plan is to generate a big enough smoke screen to make it impossible to see the truth.

    As I stated in an earlier comment. I warned them this was not going to be as easy as all of the past ones because of the explosion of social media. They either did not listen to me or care what I had to say.

    Thank you for your service, please keep up the good work!

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Gary… I never said they were smart.

      I think it was really, really, simple.

      Whoever actually started typing up that PDF file was
      working from other documents they had already been
      given that represented ‘our story and we’re stickin’ with it’.

      They also just gave them some photographs to use.

      When whoever was typing up that document went to
      insert that photo on page 23… where the SAIT wanted
      it… they could have given a crap when it was REALLY
      taken. Page 23 was only discussing the 1550 timeframe,
      so that’s what the caption on the photo HAD to say
      in order to make page 23 look good.

      They didn’t think anyone would ever check.

      I still think the family of Christopher MacKenzie should be
      outraged at this disregard for accuracy as far as their
      own dead son’s pictures go. It’s more than disrespectful.

      It’s all that he has left us… and thank goodness he did…
      so for God’s sake… at least out of respect for the dead
      we should try to get things like times on photos CORRECT.

  78. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> WTKTT SAID…”There really is no doubt that the MacKenzie video was
    >> shot just AFTER these 3 still photos were taken”
    >> The three photos you are speaking of are P23 SAIR (or as you
    >> call it 0888), and 0889 and 0890. I disagree.

    Read everything below and while it might not change your mind,
    it at least explains why I am going to continue to maintain ( for now,
    anyway ) that the MacKenzie video(s) were shot just seconds AFTER
    the still photos IMG_0888, IMG_0889 and IMG_0890.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> During the FIRST video, the red headed firefighter sitting
    >> closest to Mackenzie and the camera (Zuppiger?) is attaching
    >> his gloves to a carabineer .

    Yes. That is what he ‘appears’ to be doing… but see below.

    I now think they MIGHT have been ‘already attached’ and he was just
    ‘fooling with them’ or ‘touching them’ or just making SURE they were
    fully attached in the video. There is new evidence in the still images
    that pretty much proves this.

    It’s really not about the ‘gloves’ at all. Too close to call, really.

    It’s about the ‘bag’ ( or ‘pouch’ ) now.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> The two pictures 0889 0890 show the gloves already fixed to the backpack.

    Yes. They do. No question.

    However… if we are still going to assume that IMG_0889 and IMG_0890
    were shot just seconds apart… in only the time it takes to turn the camera
    from landscape to portrait orientation and shoot the next picture… and that
    the landscape photo ( IMG_0889 ) really did come first ( and I still believe
    this is a valid assumption to make )…

    …then look at what the red headed firefighter is just starting to do in the
    second ( later ) of the two images. He is just starting to look DOWN sort
    of in the direction of the gloves and that ‘bag’ or ‘pouch’ thing… and it ALSO
    definitely appears that his left hand is just starting to grasp ‘the bag’ in
    order to MOVE it.

    ** SIDENOTE: Also look carefully at that exact moment and it appears
    that this red headed firefighter is definitely wearing a wristwatch on his
    now-exposed left-wrist. In the second video clip… there is a quick moment
    where it is also obvious that Ashcraft ( the firefighter who laughs in response
    to the other one’s comment ) is also wearing a wristwatch. That amounts to
    photographic evidence of at least two of those men wearing wristwatches
    that day… either ( or both ) of which might be used to determine the exact
    time of death if they ‘stopped’ during the burnover. I wonder if EITHER
    ( or BOTH ) of those wristwatches were entered into evidence by the
    YCSO police investigators either before or after they might have been
    removed from the bodies by the medical examiner’s office.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> So without a doubt, the first video occurs before these two pictures.

    I still really don’t think so.

    Here’s more evidence why I believe the still photos came FIRST…

    Your observations and logic are sound… but ONLY if the ‘attaching gloves
    for the first time’ moment is actually true in the video clip.

    They MAY have been ‘already attached’ ( as definitely seen in IMG_0889 and
    IMG_0890 ) and he MAY only have been either ‘checking’ them or even
    ‘reattaching’ them in the first video clip.

    The more I look at it over-and-over… I have to say that I am inclined to believe
    now that he is NOT actually ‘attaching’ his gloves there for the first time
    in video clip 1… he appears to only just touch them for a moment to ‘check’
    them, or something like that.

    Regardless… basing the definite sequencing of these MacKenzie photos and
    the video clips ONLY on the gloves thing might simply be ‘too close to call’.

    So let’s see…what else do we have to work with, here?


    In the second video clip… the red headed firefighter is done ‘fooling’ with his
    equipment. He then definitely readjusts himself on that boulder he is sitting on
    and ‘scoots himself back’ while also turning to his left a little. He accomplishes
    this with two separate little ‘hops’ backwards on the boulder.

    He then ends up much farther back on the boulder than he was when the
    video(s) started with his own left shoulder almost touching the right shoulder
    of the firefighter to his left, and he is now just looking off to the northeast
    like just about everyone else.

    In the VIDEO… it only takes him 4 seconds to make this move.
    He starts making this sitting adjustment at +12 seconds and he finishes
    ‘scooting back’ on the boulder at +16.

    Now look at IMG_0889 and IMG_0890.

    The red headed firefighter is still ‘forward’ on the boulder in these still images
    and has NOT tried to make this ‘readjustment’ to his sitting position or
    ‘lean back’ and get closer to the firefighter to his left quite yet.

    That would put the still photos being taken BEFORE the video clip(s).

    IMG_0889 – He is ‘leaning forward’ and not close to firefighter on his left yet.
    IMG_0890 – Ditto. He has not ‘readjusted’ himself back on the boulder yet.
    VIDEO CLIP 1 – He is still ‘leaning forward’ like the still photos.
    VIDEO CLIP 2 – Only now does he readjust on the boulder and ‘lean back’.

    Yes… he could have ‘leaned forward again’ after the end of the second video
    clip and put himself in the same position he was in at the start of the first
    video clip… but I am going to go with “I doubt it” on that one.

    ** THE BAG ( or POUCH )

    This ‘bag’ that you see him fooling with in front of him in the VIDEOS is
    NOT in front of him (yet) in IMG_0889 and IMG_0890.

    In IMG_0889 it is simply sitting on his leg and actually covering the
    bottom part of the white gloves.

    In IMG_0890, taken only 3 or 4 seconds after IMG_0889, we see him actually
    bowing his head towards the gloves and the bag, raising his left hand, and
    the fingers of his left hand are actually now ‘grabbing’ the small olive-green
    bag in this photo.

    What he is captured doing there is reaching across himself to actually GRAB
    this bag that we will then be seeing him ‘fooling with’ a few seconds later
    when the video(s) were shot.

    So that would be ( I believe ) more proof that the still photos were actually
    shot just before the video(s).

    Matter of fact… this moment itself could be used to put a pretty good time
    interval on how long it really was AFTER MacKenzie shot IMG_0890 and
    then decided to start shooting video.

    That interval would have been only as long as it might have taken for this red
    headed firefighter to move the olive-green bag off his leg, put it in front
    of him, and start ‘fooling with it’ like we see him doing just seconds after
    the video starts.

    What he actually did there between IMG_0890 and the start of the video(s) is
    move the bag, put it down in front of him. Then… as the video(s) start we
    see him then move his hands back to ‘check’ that his gloves were still
    attached, and THEN he reaches in front of him for the bag he just moved
    and opens it and starts fooling with it.

    This could actually be proof that MacKenzie started shooting video just a few
    seconds after IMG_0890 and between that still photo and the beginning of
    the video(s) we see the entire contiguous operation of this red headed
    firefighter moving his bag off his leg and putting it down in front of him,
    checking his gloves real quick, and then turning to his left and fooling with
    the bag again.

    NOTE: I’m with you. I can’t even really tell if that’s a ‘bag’ or not. It might be
    just a ‘chap’, or something. Regardless. Whatever that thing is there is no
    doubt that it’s the same thing that was sitting on his leg and covering the
    bottom of the white gloves in the still photo(s)… and the same thing he has
    moved off his leg and is now messing with in the videos.

    I think you can forget all the fireline and smoke observations between these
    photos trying to determine which came first. I have looked at all that over and
    over and I think it all also falls into the ‘too close to call’ category. Regardless
    of which came first ( IMG_0889 and IMG_0890 or the video(s) )… there are
    still only a small number of seconds of separation involved.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> 1550 picture (0888?) p23 SAIR. In this picture Steed
    >> is already sitting as well as the other firefighter down by the cactus.

    I lost you a little here. I don’t believe that’s entirely accurate.

    Let me tell you what I think I am seeing here in this photo.

    NOTE: For the sake of argument… I am just going to refer to this photo on
    page 23 of the SAIR below as IMG_0888, from MacKenzie’s Canon
    Powershot, because that’s what I truly believe the source of it is.

    See the firefighter in the foreground with the RED helmet?
    ( I am assuming this is Steed because of the RED helmet ).

    This fellow is sitting on a boulder, with his hands grabbing his legs just below
    the knees… in EXACTLY the same spot where we are going to see him again
    in a few moments when the MacKenzie video pans right and shows the
    same ‘RED helmeted’ firefighter, still with his hands in the same exact place.

    He does NOT appear in IMG_0889 or IMG_0890 taken just a few moments after
    IMG_0888, because MacKenzie had repositioned between IMG_0888 and
    IMG_0889 and he wasn’t ‘framing’ those next 2 photos to actually capture this
    firefighter with the red helmet STILL sitting exactly where he is seen
    in IMG_0888.

    We will ONLY see him again ( still sitting exactly where IMG_0888 captured
    him ) until the MacKenzie video pans right and there he is… still sitting on
    the same boulder… and still with his left hand grabbing his leg at exactly the
    same spot just below his left knee as seen a few moments earlier in IMG_0888.

    What this means is that, when Christopher MacKenzie took IMG_0888 ( which
    would eventually become Figure 8 on page 23 of the SAIR and they would just
    willy-nilly DIAL BACK the time by almost 12 minutes )… he was standing
    pretty much where, in the upcoming video, the firefighter who makes the
    sarcastic remark and spits in response to Eric Marsh’s “I could just feel it,
    ya know” radio message was standing ( or perhaps even where we see
    Ashcraft standing in the video ) but he (Christopher) had moved just a few
    steps BACK and UP and to his LEFT before shooting IMG_0889, IMG_0890,
    and the videos themselves.

    He was standing where the guy who spits was ( or maybe even where
    we see Ashcraft standing in the video ) because the guy in the red helmet
    never moves throughout all of this and that’s why IMG_0888 only shows the
    top of his helmet and his hands grabbing his legs in Christopher’s IMG_0888.

    The slight alteration in Christopher’s position between IMG_0888 and the other
    still photos and video is also proved by just looking closely at the positioning of
    the boulders just beside and beyond the small cactus plant. IMG_0888 shows
    more of one of the boulders to the left of the cactus than will be seen in a
    moment in the other photos/videos because Christopher ‘stepped back’ for
    those and his line of sight changed slightly.

    The firefighter on the left side of the frame in IMG_0888 is definitely not ‘sitting
    down’ and is just ‘moving down’ towards the cactus to the spot where we will
    see him again in just a few seconds in IMG_0889 and IMG_0890 and in
    the video(s).

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> The hotshot standing, actually backs up the hill (after this picture)
    >> and is in pictures 0889 and 0890 as well as both videos
    >> (closest person on Steeds left).

    Totally agree. He becomes the firefighter standing just to the right of the
    red-haired firefighter in IMG_0889, IMG_0890 and the video(s).

    ( Just to be sure… you are talking about the firefighter with all the pink tape on
    his back, the bright red water bottle showing in his pack on his lower right
    side, the coiled black cable across his back, and the 16 inch Bendix/King
    radio extension antenna sticking out to the right, correct? )

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Mackenzie (if he is actually the photographer in this) is standing almost
    >> behind Steed and not in the same position as in pictures 0889 0890
    >> and both videos. It appears he moves because two other firefighters
    >> move in behind Steed and Mackenzie is pushed to the left a few feet.

    See above. Correct… but I believe MacKenzie didn’t just move to his left
    slightly after taking IMG_0888… he also moved BACK and UP slightly
    because of the shifting perspective on the rocks around the cactus.

    Basically… I believe he WAS standing where we are going to see
    Ashcraft and the firefighter who spits in the videos standing when he
    took IMG_0888, then he moved slightly LEFT and UP and BACK for
    IMG_0889, IMG_0890 and the video(s).

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Pictures 0889 and 0890 are taken from the same spot as both videos.


    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Video #1, as stated above, shows Zuppiger?, attaching his gloves and doing
    >> something else (not sure what), also the hotshot just behind Parker is in the
    >> process of sitting down and he has the same (for a lack of a better description
    >> “pouch” he is messing with as the other red bearded hotshot. Can anyone
    >> tell me what that is?

    See above. I’m with you. I can’t tell if it’s a ‘bag’ or a ‘pouch’ or maybe
    even just a ‘chap’ like the saw guys wear.

    All I know is that it is the thing that is sitting on his leg and covering
    the bottom of his white gloves in IMG_0889, the same thing he is
    actually grabbing with his left hand to move it in IMG_0890, and
    then the same thing again we see him ‘fooling with’ in the video(s)…

    …and, I believe, almost defacto proof that IMG_0889 and IMG_0890
    were taken BEFORE the video(s).

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Video #2. Taken from the exact location as first video, but later. fire line
    >> advanced with a second line of fire on the mountain.

    That ‘second’ fire line is what used to be the head of the fire that
    afternoon but now, with the wind shift, has become the ‘tail’.

    It is actually there in BOTH video clips.

    Something sort of ‘blows a hole’ in the smoke between the clips and that’s
    why you can see it better in the second clip than in the first one.

    SIDENOTE: Look carefully at the start of the second video clip when
    this ‘hole’ has been blown in the smoke. You can see ( and they
    could have certainly seen, too ) the MASSIVE amount of ‘new black’
    that was now there and they could have easily walked back to Yarnell
    instead of going the way they did.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Can someone explain this second line?

    It pretty much matches what even the SAIR shows on its ‘fire progression’
    chart on page 81 for timeframe 1600 ( 4:00 PM ) as to both the northern
    ( now the tail ) and the southern ( now the head ) boundaries of the fire.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> Is this what Mr Powers has described as the fire making
    >> three “runs” meaning light fuel medium fuel and heavy fuel?

    Dunno. He would have to answer that one.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> So I have reservation about what I said yesterday. I said yesterday that
    >> it appears the first video was taken before the 1550 (0888) picture. I said
    >> this based on the visual fireline, but I did notice the position of the
    >> firefighter that was down the hill and then just to Steeds left in video #1.
    >> From video #1, The fire is just appearing over Zuppigers? head.
    >> No other fire visible.

    Yes. It is. You have to look REALLY close. Same fireline that is VERY visible
    in just a few moments in video 2 is already there in video 1 but obscured
    by the smoke.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> We DO NOT know any exact times.

    No, we don’t. I still think there is JPEG EXIF metadata embedded in the
    original MacKenzie photos… because ALL Canon Powershots do that.

    Someone has that information, or could retrieve it from ALL the photos
    in just a few seconds.

    I also think there is similar metadata in the original (undedited) video(s).
    Same story. This could all be extracted in a heartbeat. It’s a no brainer
    if you have access to the originals.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> I am just trying to get these pictures/ video in correct numerical order.

    Me too. Let’s keep refining it until we are sure.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> One final thought. I believe (deeply) pictures 0885, 0886, and 0887
    >> are the last pictures taken before descent off the ridge. Now I just
    >> have to prove it.

    Go for it… but keep in mind that any theory of that kind is going to have
    to also explain how, if the Prescott Courier actually had access to the
    originals from MacKenzie’s Canon Powershot, and they were simply
    using the REAL/ACTUAL file system image filenames to
    stamp / identify / number the photos in their OWN article…

    ( Which I believe they were )

    …then it is NOT possible for the Canon Powershot itself to have gotten any
    of the IMG_XXXX filename stamps OUT OF ORDER (sequentially).

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup… we actually DO have reliable ‘times’ for all of these
      MacKenzie photos ( and the video )… but only if we are to
      assume that the Prescott Daily Courier got it right.

      Somehow… they were able to publish both the original Canon
      Powershot system filenames for the images and give time
      stamps for each photo they published.

      If they had access to the actual memory card… then the
      times they were publishing would have been the actual
      timestamps showing next to the filenames as recorded
      by the Canon Powershot itself.

      OR… they could have been smart enough to just check the
      JPEG EXIF metadata embedded in the photos themselves
      for the timestamps ( since they had the originals in front
      of them somehow ) and just used those timestamps instead
      of the system/filename time/date stamps.

      Someone also worked VERY closely with them when they
      published those photos ( on the morning the SAIR report
      came out ) and provided them with actual firefighter
      identifications in all of the photos.

      Was that Darrell Willis?

      If not… who else would have been familiar enough with these
      ALL of these men to put names to ALL the faces in the photos
      being published ( as well as descriptions of exactly what they
      were doing in each photo ) that very same morning the
      SAIR report came out?

      I think it pretty much had to be Darrell Willis.
      If not… was it McDonough?

      • Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan and Joy A Collura says

        Joanna Dodder Nellans of
        The Daily Courier wrote the article. She in July was the one who identified we had the last photos of the men that perished- the Granite Mountain Hotshots and her husband is or was a firefighter so she could of known all the men or had the resources to know so ask her that wrote the article. The statement made earlier about unsure if the time stamp is accurate- it makes sense as we saw it but also it could be a video taken or a photo taken earlier in the afternoon and the text went through later so was the caption to the photos the text time or photo taken time.

  79. Bob Powers says

    Calvin one thing to note is combustion of woody fuel starts at 400 deg. . If flames are laying close to the fuel they are drying the fuel ahead of combustion, also creating gasses, if the fuels are dry (fuel moisture content) then they ignite more readily. High temp’s and low humidity’s increase the flaming process. Where this fire was in the fuels it was in and the weather predicted any one who has been around wild land fire would have and should have been on high alert and not making any decisions with out a solid plan and a close safety zone. The whole scenario that afternoon was extreme fire behavior.

  80. Bob Powers says

    We were always trained and referred to guide lines in the FS job descriptions of the following.
    From crew’s up thru the chain of command Sector boss and Division Boss, we were not to leave our line assignment until relieved by the replacement or told to do so by a superior. The very fact that Marsh left without notifying the Ops. sec. chief was an absolute breach of the chain of command. To have not done what the OPS1 told him to do was also a failure. Marsh then violated 2 separate and distinct job requirements. The SAIR found no failure to follow rules, protocol and you wonder why we are questioning the information and findings. The SAIR tried to cover up so much that they buried them selves in inconsistencies, lack of information, Times and strange adjustments in info.

    • mike says

      So if it is common practice to alter/edit/leave out information. are we sure that Marsh did not notify OPS1? After all, the only way we know that I believe is what the SAIR says. I would think it would be hard to falsify radio transcripts when presumably recordings exist. but those can be tampered with as well (see what got presented as the MacKenzie video). If this kind of stuff goes on (and I am not saying it does – obviously I do not know) then the investigation system is simply hopeless and needs to be completely redone.

      At a more basic level, I wonder if the report was written to cover up a role in all of this by someone in fire command. Then, as a trade-off. could not bring itself to come down on the crew leadership for their mistakes. Hence, no one gets any blame.

      • Robert the Second says


        The investigative process definitely needs revamping and it does work most times, except in fatalities I say. And it’s in a lot of places, just look at the Pat Tillman coverup in the Army. Again, the ‘normal’ SAIT works pretty good, it’s the FLA mentioned above that’s a complete joke. And it’s clear to me that there’s a perverse ‘blending’ of that in this case.

        Cover up at/for higher levels? Just look at the Pat Tillman covrerup. Maybe so here. The Type 3 IC was elated that the SAIR indicated ‘no violations.’ But from a very basic level, it is and always will be the firefighter and/or fireline supervisor on-the-ground t the time, on the fireline, or wherever that is responsible for their lives, and NOT someone at the Command and General Staff level.

        Know ‘The Rules’ and follow them. It’s that simple.

        The SAIR was clearly ‘weasal worded’ to avoid any chance for use in litigation.

  81. Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan and Joy A Collura says

    we thought we read somewhere that someone knows our gps coordinates even though my camera is old school- was it on this area or possibly it was firefighter Holly Neill said it on a recent hike that figured the coordinates to most my photos- please share HOW- photo #349 I would like to go back to that spot.

  82. Robert the Second says

    “Did ANYONE actually realize the magnitude of what was GOING to happen that afternoon, when the outflows would hit it?”

    ABSOLUTELY! The BR HS was keenly aware of the situation and spent hours dealing with it in Yarnell and The Shrine areas watching the smoke column stand up and then bend over under the outflow influence, then burn downslope into Yarnell.

    To answer your questions and comments below, refer back to my Nov. 14th comments about the alleged ‘Factual Reports’ and the SAIT not following traditional investigative protocol by finding and following facts, but instead establishing a conclusion first …This is very common. AND this SAIT and the SAIR were heavily influenced by the process known as the FACILITATED LEARNING ANALYSIS (FLA) where they don’t want to know ‘the truth’ but only want you to ‘tell your story.’

    WTKTT said “I believe the SAIT couldn’t have cared less whether they were being accurate about the time on the photo or not, so long as it fit their purposes. The SAIT just played ‘fast and loose’ with the time on the MacKenzie photo.”


    “Some ‘investigation’ and report, huh?” ABSOLUTELY.

    Mike said “It is one thing for the SAIR not to seek out certain information because of fears of what it might show. It is a whole different level of deceit if known information was left out that would have changed conclusions, or if information was edited or even altered.” COMMON PRACTICE.

    Nov 14 RTS said “ALL fatality fire Investigation Reports all the way back to the 1939 Mann Gulch Fire have been cover-ups and whitewashes as far as I’m concerned. This one is no different. The other thing I have found is that these are not “Factual Reports” as they claim to be. Counter to classic investigative protocol, they often initially ‘establish a conclusion,” then find, build, etc. the quote-unquote-facts to fit that ‘conclusion.’”

  83. calvin says

    WTKTT SAID…There really is no doubt that the MacKenzie video was shot just AFTER these 3 still photos were taken, ( maybe 4:03 PM and not exactly 4:02 PM ) after the men had all descended down the Boulder pile and ‘settled in’ for ( what they thought ) might be a ‘long wait’
    The three photos you are speaking of are P23 SAIR (or as you call it 0888), and 0889 and 0890. I disagree. During the FIRST video, the red headed firefighter sitting closest to Mackenzie and the camera (Zuppiger?) is attaching his gloves to a carabineer . The two pictures 0889 0890 show the gloves already fixed to the backpack. So without a doubt, the first video occurs before these two pictures.
    1550 picture (0888?) p23 SAIR. In this picture Steed is already sitting as well as the other firefighter down by the cactus. The hotshot standing, actually backs up the hill (after this picture) and is in pictures 0889 and 0890 as well as both videos (closest person on Steeds left). Mackenzie (if he is actually the photographer in this) is standing almost behind Steed and not in the same position as in pictures 0889 0890 and both videos. It appears he moves because two other firefighters move in behind Steed and Mackenzie is pushed to the left a few feet. Pictures 0889 and 0890 are taken from the same spot as both videos.
    Video #1, as stated above, shows Zuppiger?, attaching his gloves and doing something else (not sure what), also the hotshot just behind Parker is in the process of sitting down and he has the same (for a lack of a better description “pouch” he is messing with as the other red bearded hotshot. Can anyone tell me what that is?
    Video #2. Taken from the exact location as first video, but later. fire line advanced with a second line of fire on the mountain. Can someone explain this second line? Is this what Mr Powers has described as the fire making three “runs” meaning light fuel medium fuel and heavy fuel? Thanks in advance for helping me understand this.
    So I have reservation about what I said yesterday. I said yesterday that it appears the first video was taken before the 1550 (0888) picture. I said this based on the visual fireline, but I did notice the position of the firefighter that was down the hill and then just to Steeds left in video #1.
    From video #1, The fire is just appearing over Zuppigers? head. No other fire visible. Wikipedia description of wildfire says: A wildfire front is the portion sustaining continuous flaming combustion, where unburned material meets active flames, or the smoldering transition between unburned and burned material.[43] As the front approaches, the fire heats both the surrounding air and woody material through convection and thermal radiation. First, wood is dried as water is vaporized at a temperature of 100 °C (212 °F). Next, the pyrolysis of wood at 230 °C (450 °F) releases flammable gases. Finally, wood can smoulder at 380 °C (720 °F) or, when heated sufficiently, ignite at 590 °C (1,000 °F).[44][45] Even before the flames of a wildfire arrive at a particular location, heat transfer from the wildfire front warms the air to 800 °C (1,470 °F), which pre-heats and dries flammable materials, causing materials to ignite faster and allowing the fire to spread faster.
    This seems to be what I am seeing in the First video. The fire is barely visible but definitely spreading to the right. I think the area just to the right of the flames are actually in the SMOULDERING process and about to ignite. So if my theory yesterday that first video came before P23 photo(0888) can be true, you would have to accept the firefighter to the left of Steed, First was beside Steed, Next moved down for a better look, And THEN came back to his original position. We DO NOT know any exact times. I am just trying to get these pictures/ video in correct numerical order.
    WTKTT said…I don’t trust ANY of it ( the SAIR ) anymore. Me EITHER! With that in mind, I think we should steer away from judging Marsh as being obtuse, disingenuous, or coy based on what the SAIR reports HE said. We have two audio segments with Marsh. And one with Steed. The first one of Marsh (by Globe) has him identifying himself as GRANITE MOUNTAIN. The second audio of Marsh (captured by Mackenzie?) is a deep and disturbing clip. I do not hear deceit, I do not hear a “charge” order asserting his power. I do hear concern, uncertainty, and possibly FEAR. Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Thanks for allowing me (a total outsider) to express my opinion, and ask questions.
    One final thought. I believe (deeply) pictures 0885, 0886, and 0887 are the last pictures taken before descent off the ridge. Now I just have to prove it…. STAY TUNED

    • mike says

      Calvin – I was about to ask a question along this line yesterday (when I was considering Marsh not notifying OPS1 of his plans), then I did not. It is one thing for the SAIR not to seek out certain information because of fears of what it might show. It is a whole different level of deceit if known information was left out that would have changed conclusions, or if information was edited or even altered. If the latter things are true, not only is the SAIR totally worthless, but it is time for a US district attorney to start investigating.

  84. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> The image used on p23 of SAIR by Chris
    >> Mackenzie does not match the Mackenzie photos in
    >> Daily Courier. Image 0889 and 0890 (from Daily Courier)
    >> are time stamped 4:02pm, and they show the exact
    >> same image as the image in the SAIR “taken” at 1550.

    That’s right.

    I believe I pointed this out previously that someone ( either the SAIR or the
    Courier ) are ‘wonky’ on their timestamps for these 3 MacKenzie pictures
    taken in numeric filename sequence that were obviously taken at the same
    general time, at the same location, and within seconds of each other
    ( and not a full 12 minutes apart as the SAIR would have us believe ).

    Remember… there is NO doubt now that the image on page 23 of the SAIR
    is, in fact, the ‘missing’ IMG_0888 sequence number from MacKenzie’s
    Canon Powershot and also the one photo missing from the set of MacKenzie
    June 30 photos published by the Daily Courier.

    The Daily Courier said there were only 14 photos recovered from MacKenzie’s
    Canon Powershot that were taken on the day of the tragedy itself. That is
    absolutely not true. There were ( at least ) 15. The Courier either did not have
    ( or chose not to publish ) the image with sequence number IMG_0888. This
    is the one that the SAIR kept for itself and would appear on page 23 of their
    report. Whether they deleted it from the actual MacKenzie memory card
    ( along with other things like more photos or more video? ) before handing
    that camera and/or memory card back to Mr. MacKenzie and/or the Prescott
    Daily Courier… that remains to be found out.

    So who is actually ‘wonky’ on the time(s) here?

    That’s easy ( I think ).

    Just ask yourself… “Who would even have the motivation to play with the
    photo timestamps to make them fit an agenda?”

    The Prescott Daily Courier? Don’t think so.

    The SAIT? Hmmmm….

    I believe the SAIR is wrong… and just willy-nilly adjusting the time on
    Christopher’s IMG_0888 back a full 12 minutes since they decided to shove
    that photo into their narrative on a page that was only discussing the 1550 timeframe.

    I believe the SAIT couldn’t have cared less whether they were being accurate
    about the time on the photo or not, so long as it fit their purposes.

    The SAIR put a caption on this photo that says…
    Figure 8. Page 23 of the SAIR
    Photo caption: Christopher MacKenzie took this photo
    at 1550 ( 4:50 PM ) on June 30, ( 2013 ).

    I think that is total fiction ( some would simply say ‘a lie’ ) and even disrespectful
    of poor Christopher MacKenzie himself to just play with his photos and their
    timestamps that way just to make something of his fit their own story.

    I would also think the family of Christopher MacKenzie would/should be
    outraged at even the possibility that their dead son’s photos and their
    associated timestamps might have been manipulated in this manner in
    an official State of Arizona sponsored report, but that’s just me.

    Quick review of when these photos were ACTUALLY taken ( and not
    when the SAIR says IMG_0888 was )…

    IMG_0888 – Page 23 of SAIR. Figure 8.
    SAIR says ( with no equivocation ) taken at 1550 ( 3:50 PM )
    This is complete fiction. That puts it at 2 minutes before even the
    PREVIOUS MacKenzie photo sequence at the PREVIOUS location.
    The men are ARRIVING at this new spot after a short hike ( see previous
    MacKenzie ‘moving out’ photos with people slinging saws and leaving their
    previous location at 3:52 PM ). The men are walking DOWN the Boulder pile
    at this NEW location where they will then settle in for a longer stay and the
    MacKenzie video will be shot at 4:02 ( or perhaps 4:03 ) PM.

    A few seconds ( or up to 1 minute ) later…

    IMG_0889 – Landscape orientation. Prescott Courier says ( also with no
    equivocation ) 4:02 PM. Shows the men at the exact same spot as
    IMG_0888 on page 23 of the SAIR… and only up to a maximum of about
    a few dozen seconds after IMG_0888… but more firefighters have entered
    the frame and the men have, generally, moved DOWN on the boulder
    pile closer to that small green cactus which is present in ALL of these photos.

    No more than 3 or 4 seconds later…

    IMG_0890 – Portrait orientation. Prescott Courier says ( also with no
    equivocation ) 4:02 PM. Same deal. Same location… just a few seconds
    after IMG_0889.

    I have said this before… but I think it is obvious that the time separation between
    IMG_0890 and IMG_0889 is only the 3 or 4 seconds it takes to turn your camera
    from landscape to portrait orientation, line up the next shot, and press the
    shutter button again.

    The firefighter with the red beard has barely had time to ‘look up’ between
    IMG_0889 and IMG_0890… and the firefighter nearest the cactus has not
    moved an inch. The only thing that has really changed between the two
    photos is the orientation of the camera.

    There really is no doubt that the MacKenzie video was shot just AFTER these 3
    still photos were taken, ( maybe 4:03 PM and not exactly 4:02 PM ) after the
    men had all descended down the Boulder pile and ‘settled in’ for ( what they
    thought ) might be a ‘long wait’.

    Their day was done. Anchor assignment was pointless now. They didn’t know
    what was coming next or how long they were going to be ‘stuck’ up there
    at this point.

    It wasn’t their job now to figure out how to get out of there.

    Management had screwed up and parked the Carriers in the wrong place
    at the start of the day and it was up to management to work out the evac.

    The critical ‘discussing their options’ and the mysterious ‘comfort level’
    discussions were all just moments away, and the decision to move
    somewhere else was also about to happen, unbeknownst to these men
    seen ‘settling in for a long wait’ in the photos and the video.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> There are three images on Mackenzie
    >> photos #0885, 0886, and 0887 that are time
    >> stamped 3:52 but are taken from a different location.
    >> A DIFFERENT LOCATION! The landscape is totally
    >> different and the distance from the fire line is different.

    Right again… but I believe ALL of what you have just noticed is explained above
    by accepting the fact that the SAIT just played ‘fast and loose’ with the time on
    the MacKenzie photo they decided to use on page 22 of their report
    ( IMG_0888 ). The ‘narrative’ was focused on the 1550 timeframe on that page
    so when they decided to use that photo from Christopher’s ‘1602 4:02 PM’
    sequence… they just lied about when it was taken so it would make more
    sense on the page where they wanted to use it.

    They just ‘dialed back’ the time on Chris’ actual IMG_0888 to 2 minutes
    BEFORE even his 3:52 PM picture sequence… because it simply made
    their report look better on page 23.

    Some ‘investigation’ and report, huh?

    Again… I would think the family of Christopher MacKenzie should be outraged
    that their dead son’s image ( and the associated timestamp ) might have
    been blatantly manipulated like this.

    I don’t trust ANY of it ( the SAIR ) anymore.

    • Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan and Joy A Collura says

      one day if the missing sd card with a $5,000 reward appears—it will most likely show both the Courier and Report are not accurate on the time stamps of the photos. We usually lay low on accounts we cannot back up with some sort of document/source yet we at this point in time do not think either places reported exact times but appx. times from their own perspective-
      When we read the report long ago and we plan to reread it again yet we remembered the photo format was clouded in report with some kind of photo-shop layer. Why do that? This report needed to be from the start to finish clean, clear and 100% transparent from all areas; ground to air. If they were unsure of an area than they should of stated at the date of the deadline of this report we cannot answer this section or that but to try and blend it out like we read it and have the folks still stand by it- we question the report as well as the people who stand by it. It was clear to us since they never hiked it with us but did a phone interview that they did not really want an eye-witness account of those 3 days. It seems everyone names this the 6-30-13 Yarnell Hill Fire but reality is this is 6-28-13 fire with fatalities that happened on 6-30-13; all an avoidable situation. Also the photos taken by the men was in the black area with retardant laid and that is not that near the deployment area. Why leave the black to the most dehydrated dense maze-like area Joy states in the videos John Dougherty did. That is what needs to be figured out. We know some folks are nervous to come forward yet we hope that if this does not get brushed under a rug than those people will feel at ease to speak up. Yes, to be on a hike with us many have thought “unusual pair” yet we compliment areas of one another that one lacks- Joy as a young girl was left in a high up in tree fort back East as Phil/David set it afire with her in it. She almost died of smoke inhalation and yet she took her water and wet her hair and took her shirt off and wrapped it around her face and head as she slid down the tree and she quickly did all she could to put the fire to rest. As time went on in her life “fire” seem to follow…she spent time in the forest behind her aunt’s home with a girl name Dawn B. and the girl was smoking and offered Joy a cigarette and Joy refused and Dawn tossed it. As Joy entered her aunt’s home right behind her she saw fire- that tossed cigarette that Dawn did not put out burnt some of her aunt’s place and the forest. Joy has not liked fire her entire life. Joy is also an avoidable type organized person where Sonny is live in the moment man. Than there is mountain man Sonny who lives and breathes and cooks by cowboy campfire. He grew up living his life in the forest and his family lived in a canvas tent. His sister- a wealthy woman now- did not like her younger years of living such way so Joy embarked on an adventure to go see all the areas Sonny lived from a kid to now and Joy can say to live in the Big Burro Mountains in a canvas tent was not an easy life for the females of that miner-mentality family unit. Sonny and his father put out many of lightning fires. He knows not only the mountains but he knows fire behavior well. However, Joy has educated him to the modern laws of cooking by campfire that Sonny never knew about. When we were building a tipi in Vernon, Arizona in 2012 we bought land and cleared some areas to place the septic so you can pp in tipi “legally”…Sonny grew up old style way out in the mountains so my ways seem foreign to him but I shared the legalities of us and if we are embarked on a hiking adventure as a duo he has to respect that I live my life clean and respectful to the regulations/laws. I had a permit to burn the brush and Sonny strongly could not understand me getting a permit to burn brush on our paid in full property; our land. He did not understand the modern regulations. That is where we help one another on the hikes because on 6-30-13 Joy did not see the DANGER of that fire as it was in the distance but Sonny KNEW strongly it was horrific when it travelled up that mountain in the speed it did and he was very toned about it at that point as he said to Joy not only “let’s get the hell outta here” but he said “those men have air rescue up there and radios- we do not- let’s go kid. we are on our own.”
      We are so glad to see where Brendan was stationed because Joy saw him over by Sesame Street in the afternoon and do not ask what exact time- but it was before we got back to town and out of there. When Joy got to feel of it, she now can see he was there that day and he had his eyes on it all yet to Joy he was in more danger that day than the 19 for he had spotted fires all around him and he was low where the others were up high in the black near the helispot. We read a lot about Willis on here. I am not associated with the firefighter world and I do not know Willis nor ever met him yet when dissecting this event remember that DAY and who was in charge of WHO and so far from people who know him and people who investigated/interviewed him Willis showed his evidence that he was not a part of the area the GMHS took part that day in and Eric Marsh was appointed to oversee the flank area and we for sure saw that man conditioned and go up like a rabbit with such a passion and ease- he was not spent and he did not sweat and he was cordial and kind. I know it is like playing the game clue and figure who had the candlestick or the rope and all yet I think it was smart for the SAIR to not play the name game yet dangerous too. By labeling the way they did it left it up to others to figure out and in the meantime it leaves room to have people publicly and privately misguided to think ways about a situation that may not be accurate because the knowledge/facts lack and the report 9-28-13 in our opinion was vague and was not detailed enough especially with 19 men dead.
      Recently we heard in an email —
      “Just a lil heads up here. Some people are trying to belittle your thoughts on the helicopters fanning the flames. My best advice is to stick to your story, because it certainly seems to come from the heart, AND YOU WERE THERE!!!! No one in Arizona has a story like yours.”
      and we replied to that email—“I am simple gal- farm roots and I shared what I saw and Sonny is a mountain simple guy and we shared what we saw—not a story yet what we saw—discrediting or thinking whatever they want- please I encourage that yellow and white helicopter to come forward and educate me because not at all times did that copter go low with gear intent- indeed saw the copter hovering/observing yet I am all for someone educate me- and I will state like I did to the investigators we did not believe that area with 4 small bushes that the copter fanned because it was low—we did not ever say it was purposely doing it but it is the result we saw from it flying low- I questioned it immediately and Sonny said I reckon it went from a lightning fire to a controlled burn-

      The funny part – people can try and discredit yet I have a lived a pure good clean life and my husband has always been at my side with full support and what they can stir—the girl gets brain tumors and wants to live out what she always read in an old western novel/Ann Woodin’s Home is the Desert or watched as a kid PippiLongstocking/Shirley Temple and I always wanted to see can you even pioneer Arizona in this modern society? I am not doing anything wrong and even getting a man who thinks he is so old that he is grandfathered in to all the modern laws and even Sonny is legal with a permit to walk here in Arizona—how many out there even know of such laws—so let them talk—means they are not talking about someone else for the moment. Let them discredit but in the end people who have watched my giving heart since a tot will just smile because they know it will not bother me—people have to do what they do but when I pass on I went with a pure heart and you are right I have been sharing from the heart and pure. Happy Thanksgiving.”—-
      we are going to really sit down and read ALL you wrote and reply as time goes by—we were there as we hiked 3:48am until almost 3—when we returned to the cabin#15 of Oak Park Joy never imagined what she saw; the gates to hell- flames so high and smoke so thick and Sonny just looked at me like “told you so” so in the end you can have decades of firefighting experience but Sonny has life experience as an old miner/logger yet is also college educated (religion/geology/psychology) and when we began this hiking adventure back in 2011 I thought three days tops I could take of it but what keeps me going is his vast knowledge of the very thing I love—A R I Z O N A desert. It does break my heart as I walked that day and I share to you all that day and I know once lawsuits come about; discrediting and all the rodeo of bullshit will come to be but in the end it breaks my heart because Friday when I spoke to Ronda Carnes (my hiking pal/dear friend/Congress gas station cashier) she stated she hopes I was not in that area—lightning just struck the hill—we went to the radio towers and it was not in our visual—we went down the hill and saw it. We still need to see Congress photos from people who saw it and got it on film that night so that Sonny can take the photo and take us up to that very area to find the material that a lightning strike leaves behind- we still have not after ALL these hikes found the exact lightning strike spot and that is our goal in this- We told Ronda we would hike it Saturday and we did but after seeing the black bear and the heat and the blisters Joy had on her feet from the many miles already put on that week—the heat was main factor and we went in from wrong angle Sonny felt so Sunday we went out early—still dark out. Our condolences to all affected by that day and we feel your pain this Holiday—we hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving.

  85. Bob Powers says

    Short comment Marsh and Steed could talk to each other on the radio (inter crew) and would have at the point the crew dropped into the canyon. Steed may have marked the drop off point and told marsh to look for the tape. Pure and simple no surprises.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      See my response to Gary Olson above about this.
      If the culture pretty must dictates that this MUST
      have happened…

      …then Brendan McDonough must have heard
      every single word of it.

      He was sitting in the GM Supervisor Truck in the parking
      lot of the Ranch House Restaurant at this exact time
      with nothing to do but be listening to the radio.

    • mike says

      The problem I see with Marsh underestimating the risk of their move, is that what he saw with his eyes was not what made the situation dangerous. It was knowing the combination of the weather that was present (unstable), the fuel present in the unburned areas (very flammable) and the fact that conditions had been so hot and dry. Those were the things that predicted further extreme fire behavoir, i.e. fire moving much faster than you would otherwise think. Relying on his eyes and not his head (along with ignoring the rules) I think messed him up.

      When you decide on a course of action, there is always a tendency to focus on reasons you can do it (best-case) versus not do it (worse-case).

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        There was a (supposedly) qualified FBAN ( Fire Behavior
        Analyst ) on duty on this fire during this entire timeframe.
        that day ( according to the SAIR, anyway ).

        His only job ( as I understand the paid position of FBAN )
        was to be watching out for ALL these things you mention
        and make SURE everyone was up to speed on all
        these ‘possibilities’.

        Apparently… even this guy ( the acting FBAN ) was
        totally out of his league that day and was unable to
        predict what was going to happen.

        This fire went off like an ATOM BOMB.
        It was unusual. The ‘perfect fire’, if you will.

        Did ANYONE actually realize the magnitude of what
        was GOING to happen that afternoon, when the
        outflows would hit it?

        Apparently not…

        …but SOMEONE should have.

        I still say maybe someone should have made the
        hiker Tex Gilligan IC that day when the fire
        management transitioned.

        He seemed to know exactly what was going to go
        down that afternoon as early as 1:00 PM when
        he took one look at the sky, the fire starting to run,
        and told his hiking companion… “We need to get
        the HELL out of here… RIGHT NOW”…

        …and he doesn’t even call himself a fire expert.

        • mike says

          Sight is a very crucial sense in how we perceive things. I almost wonder if seeing the fire from the ridge was a disadvantage, strange as that may seem. Seeing the fire over time could lead to assumptions about how it is going to behave, what direction it is moving etc, overriding the knowledge that the conditions were ripe for drastic changes in the fire. We can rely too much on what we see and draw conclusions from that when we should know better. Describe the situation in words instead of him seeing it, and he might have decided against leaving the ridge. When you look at those 4 o’clock pictures/video, the fire is quite a ways from where it is 45 minutes later.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            When you are training for your pilot’s license,
            you are actually specifically warned about
            exactly what you are talking about.

            It’s called ‘proximity relaxation’… and it’s
            especially dangerous on an approach.

            When human beings are more than a
            few hundred feet away from something
            the tendency is to think you are ‘safe’
            and that something is quite distant
            when, in fact, it’s not.

            At no time is that more true when you
            are lining up for a landing on a runway
            and you are still about 3 miles out.

            The runway still looks ‘far away’… and
            you might still be inclined to just ‘take
            in the scenery’…

            …but all of a sudden… it’s RIGHT IN
            FRONT OF YOU!… and you better
            have not been daydreaming.

        • Rocksteady says

          I am a certified FBAN, and the way I do my predictions and briefings is do the weather blurb AND predicted rates of spread. But that is just me.

          I would ASSUME that this info was given at the morning briefing. However, If only Marsh was at the briefing, maybe this information did not get passed to the whole GMHS crew. When teh 2 weather updates came through from teh meteorologist at weather services, and the FBAN passed it along, did he also include details of rates of spread? I would hope so.

          However, saying all that, I am a firm believer that any crew person with more than 2 years experience would be able to figure out this fire is a bomb, when the temps are 106 F, single digit RH’s and the wind is predicted to go to 30, 40 or 50 mph. Especially when they are observing aggressive fire behaviour under benign wind conditions.

          The FBAN may have been out of his league, however, as long as he transmitted the weather predictions (with no rates of spread etc) a crew would definitely conclude that this fire was going to make a hard fast run. Firefighter basics…

  86. Bob Powers says

    WTKTT actually and very precise Fire Fighting Order #7 Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor, and adjoining forces.
    go to– http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/10_18/10_18.html
    That will get you a copy of the 10 and 18 if you don’t have it. They are precise and very clear and have served well for over 60 years. I am not a fan of LCES because its only a part of the whole.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Powers… I have had a copy of these ‘Holy documents’ since
      day one. Maintaining PROMPT communications is not exactly
      the same thing as saying ‘Make sure you’re not being obtuse
      and that everyone understands you’…

      …or actually having some sort of ‘test’ in place for being
      promoted to these supervisory positions that makes sure you
      are someone who knows what ‘obtuse’ means and you have
      absolutely no tendency at all to be that way.

      CLEAR communicating.
      It’s an art… not a science.
      Some people instinctively know how to do it.
      Others need to be TAUGHT how to do it.

  87. Gary Olson says

    FYI, I think you are wasting your talent and energy trying to figure out who made the decision to go down the chute, who was leading the crew, and were Eric Marsh was in the line or whether he was with the crew or acting as Div A at any particular point in time.

    This might have been different if Eric Marsh would have been on the other side of the fire on a different division or in a different role entirely (structure protection etc.) BUT…he wasn’t.

    So…you can take this to the bank and cash it, it’s 100% guaranteed.
    EVERYTHING…the crew did that day, Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed did together…the same way a husband and wife go to Sears to pick out an appliance together…with Marsh taking the dominant role (non-gender specific).

    I got together with my Assistant Crew Boss (he was THE Crew Boss after I went into a different job) after 30 years apart on the Battlement Creek Fire Staff Ride, and he still deferred to me on everything we did…it was automatic learned behavior without even thinking about it.

    I would do exactly the same thing with my old Crew Boss whenever I saw him, no matter what my GS rating was at the time…look to him to take the lead, in the conversation, where we ate, what we talked about. It is the hotshot culture.

    That crew acted as a single unit not matter what on that day (and nobody cared what anyone else in the crew thought about anything, not even the crew member or squad boss who had a thought about something), with Eric Marsh in the lead, wherever he happened to be standing or walking at the time (although he consulted with Jesse Steed on everything) although he listened to Steed and took his advice on some things, just like a couple does picking out the appliance at Sears, one may have an opinion on how big the unit should be or the color and the other may decide whether to pay cash or finance it, but the person wearing the pants in the family makes the final call.

    If you want to know how a Hotshot Crew operates, just think about a group of people whose members are respected and valued as individuals, whose ideas, values, opinions, hopes, dreams and aspirations matter…and think about the EXACT OPPOSITE and you will be close to how a hotshot crew operates in the field. To sum it up, I didn’t even care what I thought about anything when I was a crew member or even a squad boss, unless it was specific to what my squad was doing at the moment within the overall project.

    • Bob Powers says

      Good example Gary the responsible person took them down the canyon, whether he was leading or taking up the rear to insure all were to gather. Once they left the top of that mountain where they went and how they got there was leader decision.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Gary… I hear ya… more fascinating insight into this
        culture and this work environment.

        Just to be clear, then… you are saying that even if
        Captain Steed was at the front of that line of 18
        men ( including himself but not Marsh since he
        was still ‘catching up’ to them )…

        When Captain Steed reached that exact point
        where the exit from the road would take place…
        he took the time call Marsh again on the GM
        intra-crew channel… and CONSULT with him
        about that?

        You are saying there MUST have been a conversation
        that went like this…

        Steed: Ah… hey Eric… this is Jesse. I can see the
        ranch now and we have a straight shot at it… but
        we’re gonna have to drop down into some kind
        of canyon. Is that really the way we’re supposed
        to go there? Over.

        Marsh: Jesse. Copy that. I don’t know how else to
        get there. I guess we’ll have to just go for it. Over.

        Steed: Copy that. Do you think we really have the
        TIME to go that way? Over.

        Marsh: Air Attack said we had 1-2 hours before it all
        hits the fan down there… so yea… should be plenty
        a time. Over.

        Steed: Copy that. You comin’? Over.

        Marsh: Roger. I can see you all up ahead a ways.
        I’ll be right there.

        Steed: Copy that. We’re descending.

        Something like that?
        If you’re answer is ‘yes… that kind of consultation
        MUST have happened because of ‘the culture’…

        …then McDonough must have heard every word of it.

        He would have been sitting in the GM Supervisor truck
        in the parking lot of the Ranch House Restaurant at
        this exact moment with nothing else to do but be
        listening to the radio.

        • Gary Olson says

          Yes, Jesse Steed would never have taken the crew down that chute without consulting with Eric Marsh because of the culture.

          They made that decision together. Like I said, it might have been different if Eric Marsh would have had other crews he was managing or have been in a different division entirely, but he didn’t and he wasn’t, so they did.

          As many others have alluded to, there was a lot of conversation on the inter-crew radios that both Darrell Willis and McDonough would have listened to and probably even participated in, in addition to anyone else who had their radios cloned the same as the Granite Mountain Hotshots. There was no 30 minute black out.

          The Granite Mountain Hotshots were on the move in the middle of a very dynamic situation with the fire going to hell in a hand basket. They did a lot of talking between themselves, especially since they were probably not standing next to each other during most or all of the time.

          I hate to point the finger at McDonough, that young man has had nothing in his life to prepare him for what he is and will be going through in the near future. But…neither did the rest of his crew and that fact didn’t help them on June 30, 2013.

          If he can keep his mouth shut he will probably have a long and happy career as a Prescott City Fireman and remain a home town hero. If he talks about what he knows, he will be unemployed and have to leave town. Tough choice for a young man with at least one dependent (a daughter I think) to make.

  88. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    calvin’s revisit of the 1550 timeframe and the MacKenzie photos has brought
    me back to something I meant to mention that had gone to my back burner.

    I don’t think near enough has been said/discussed about the following
    infamous moment documented in the SAIR in the 1550 timeframe…

    Page 22 of the SAIR says…

    :: At about 1550, Air Attack tells DIVS A the fire is heading quickly
    :: toward Yarnell and could reach the town in one to two hours.

    This is right at the moment where Brendan is evacuating, OPS1
    is calling him ( Marsh ) and telling him to ‘just hunker and be safe’,
    and is IMMEDIATELY prior to this infamous ‘discussing their options’

    That was a short statement from ‘Air Attack’… but an important one.

    In the SAME SENTENCE… ‘Air Attack’ is definitely telling DIVS A
    that Yarnell is now in deep trouble… and is also giving him a
    (supposed) exact timeframe for when it’s all gonna hit the fan down there.

    Everyone has been asking the questions…

    WHY did they leave where they were?
    HOW could they have thought they had time to do what they did?

    Well… BOTH of those questions are actually answered right there in
    that one simple reported communication in the SAIR.

    Could it really be that simple?

    Some guy in an AIRPLANE… with the absolute best ‘eyes on the fire’
    that anyone could have that day… had just given Marsh his ‘professional
    opinion’ about how much TIME there was before the town was
    going to need all the defending it could get.

    Marsh went RIGHT into his ‘discussing their options’ conversation with
    Steed right after this moment… and this information had just arrived
    from ‘Air Attack’.

    Could it simply be that they then based ALL their decisions solely on
    what ‘Air Attack’ had just told them?

    This guy had the best ‘eyes on the fire’. He had just given them a
    definite time estimate. How would it have occurred to Marsh/Steed
    that this guy could have been SO WRONG about the predicted
    timeframe that they should just ‘stay where they were’?

    Maybe the MISSING part of the MacKenzie video… with them ‘discussing
    their options’ and the mysterious ‘comfort level’ discussion simply
    went something like this.

    Marsh to Steed: ‘Air Attack’ says its going to all hit the fan down there
    in about 2 hours. That should be plenty of time for us to get all the
    way to Glen Ilah and maybe help out. What’s your ‘comfort level’
    on that, Jesse?

    Steed to Marsh: If ‘Air Attack’ says we’ve got 2 hours… I have no reason
    not to believe him… but if we’re going… I still think we should go right now.

    Marsh to Steed: Copy that. You guys take off towards that Ranch right
    now and I’ll catch up with you right away.

    Steed to Marsh: Copy that. We’re moving out.

    Yes… they lost their ‘eyes on the fire’.
    Yes… they were violating all KINDS of workplace safety rules.
    Yes… they SHOULD have asked someone to keep an eye on them.
    Yes… they SHOULD have reported their movements and intentions.
    Yes… they SHOULD have made sure someone knew where they were.

    But maybe ( just maybe ) they had such faith in what ‘Air Attack’ had
    told them about having ‘2 hours’ that they just didn’t feel the need
    to do any of that.

    Their thoughts on that whole walk would have been… “How could Air
    Attack possibly be so wrong about the 2 hours that we might have
    anything in the world to worry about. We must have plenty of time.”

  89. Bob Powers says

    I am going to throw another wrench in the SAIR. Their no communication times are full of holes, because they were not specific or stated no time.
    1605 GM started to move Based on last McKenzie picture.
    1608 to 1610 (Possible est.) conversation with BR and Air attack (these times are not recorded.
    only that Air Attack talked to GM around 1600 which would not be right since they were on the move thru the black. When he talked to them which would have been between 1605 and 1610.
    1615 to 1630 McDonough told March the vehicles were moved. They acknowledged
    1637 Marsh talked to Air Attack about fly over
    1639 Noted the fire in front of them.
    There was never a 30 min. black hole in communications.
    It also seems they had immediate contact with Air Attack and McDonough at any time they wanted them. The whole communication thing is misleading.
    Based on the information we have GM had communications the entire decent.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The SAIR is so full of ‘tossed wrenches’ already I’m not sure
      there’s much room left for more… but you are still absolutely right.

      This report contradicts ITSELF all over the place… sometimes
      even on the SAME PAGE.

      The mainstream media ( and most of the world ) still thinks 19
      good men died a horrible death because of ‘radio problems’.

      The only ‘radio problems’ on that day were people simply
      NOT USING THEM the way they should have.

      The ‘C’ in LCES.

      It doesn’t mean just HAVING a radio.
      It means knowing HOW to use it and HOW to
      ‘C’ommunicate ‘C’learly.

      The acronym really should be LCCES

      Lookouts / Communicate CLEARLY / Escape routes / Safezones

  90. Tex (Sonny) Gilligan says

    On November 11 we hiked with John McCain author of Esperanza Fire. I noticed a small round object that appeared to be a meteorite at first. It turned out to be the cooked remnants of the pink tape the Hot Shots were using to mark their trail. Apparantly it was what was left of a small roll of tape thrown down on the jeep trail just above where they descended down into the bowl. Joy recorded the coordinates, informed OSHA of the location and we left the evidence there in a rock pile so it could be found. So either Eric Marsh stood at that very point or one of the other Hot Shot Crew. I would think it came from Marsh since he was busy marking trails all the way up and this would seem to fit considering how much would have been left to melt into that small round ball about 3/4 inch diameter. Photos can be seen on Joy’s private website and the coordinates are 5510ft elevation N34*13.290W112*46.931. Anyone interested can google earth that one and know now exactly where at least one of the Hot Shots were immediately before the descend into that trap below. Joy does share her link to those that send an email and saves having to look at the Z in her zazzle page. I personally have viewed her zazzle page maybe three times in two years we have hiked together. Hope her notes are OK there concerning our hikes but I hate the Z on everything. Sonny (Tex)

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Gilligan… THANK YOU!

      It might not seem like much to some people… but over here
      on this thread we are taking the ‘no detail is too small’ approach
      to trying to figure out exactly what happened that day, and
      your input is welcome at any time.

      I believe this information IS important… and here is why…

      One of the leading theories at this point is that Captain Jesse
      Steed, who was the acting Granite Mountain Supervisor that
      day because Mr. Eric Marsh had been promoted to ‘Division
      Supervisor A’ ( DIVS A )… was the one who was leading the
      line of 18 men south on the high ridge two-track road that
      afternoon. Eric Marsh is KNOWN to not have been
      with them when they started their journey south on that
      two-track road towards the box canyon. This is
      documented in the SAIR and also established in the
      Christopher MacKenzie video taken circa 4:02 PM, just
      before the crew ‘moved out’ and headed south.

      It is not known WHEN Eric Marsh ‘caught up with them’
      and then also descended into the box canyon with them.
      Even the SAIR report acknowledges this.

      The theory is that Eric Marsh only caught up with them
      AFTER the front of the line ( being led by Captain Steed )
      had already chosen to drop into the canyon, which means
      it was actually Captain Steed’s decision to actually take
      the line of men down into that box canyon.

      That means that only then, when Eric Marsh finally caught
      the line of 18 men… it then became a line of 19 men, and
      Eric Marsh was now the LAST one at the end of the line
      throughout the descent into the box canyon and on
      towards the (eventual) deployment site.

      I believe your discovery of the roll of tape actually PROVES that.

      Here is why…

      These were all nice guys. If they were all walking along and
      one of the guys in front of them accidentally dropped something
      off their pack like a roll of tape… I believe the man BEHIND
      him would have seen it… picked it up… and just said “Hey…
      you dropped this”… and given it back to him.

      The fact that you were able to find this roll of tape says to
      me that it was PROBABLY dropped by the LAST man
      in the line… and there was no one behind him to notice it
      and hand it back to him.

      The fact that the roll of tape was ‘depleted’ would mean
      that it also most probably belonged to Eric Marsh, since
      he was the one ( maybe the only one? ) using that pink
      tape to mark trails all day.

      So there you have it.

      I believe you found a roll of tape that had belonged to
      Eric Marsh… and the reason it was there for you to find
      at that location is that when he dropped it, he was the
      LAST MAN in the line… and no one was behind him
      to notice it, pick it up, and hand it back to him.

      Just a theory, of course… but it would make sense.

      So as you can see… every little detail has a chance of
      providing more evidence of what really happened that day.

      The GPS coordinates you have provided are also an EXACT
      match for the point where the SAIR report says Granite
      Mountain left the high ridge two-track road and began their
      descent into the fuel-filled box canyon.

      The tape could have fallen off Eric Marsh’s pack ( or he
      just accidentally dropped it ) when he might have ‘paused’
      for a moment to ‘hitch up his pack’ like you would do when
      you are about to make a descent like that.

      By the way… here are the actual DECIMAL values
      for the GPS coordinates supplied by Mr. Gilligan for
      where he found the burned roll of tape…

      Latitude: 34.2215
      Longitude: -112.78218

      34.2215, -112.78218

      Just cut-and-paste the line above with the comma between
      the decimal latitude/longitude values into the search bar
      of Google Maps, hit RETURN, and the exact location
      will appear. A GREEN ARROW will be pointing to this
      exact point on the high ridge road.

      • calvin says

        WTKTT… Agree , Thanks, Mr Gilligan! I agree this could be a clue. When I read the post about finding the roll I thought about it being left to MARK the exact spot where they left the road and entered the brush. I didn’t think that it could have been dropped, good thought. I think there would/ should have been a marker indicating where they (GM) left the trail, if DIV A had not caught up yet. One way or the other, it could be very useful.
        As noted earlier, once GM left the road their rate of travel dropped to < 1mph. I wonder how this influenced the amount of time it took Marsh to catch up? I wonder if one person travels faster in brush that 18? I have lots of questions???

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          calvin… my own ‘visualization’ on that moment is
          along the lines of Marsh ONLY catching up
          with them just in time to see the last man leaving
          the two-track and dropping into the canyon.

          It might even have been from some distance, but
          he still saw ‘where they were going’.

          The two-track curls around a hill at that point
          right before you reach the saddle. Marsh could
          have been just coming around that curve and
          would have had time to see the last
          yellow-suited man disappearing from view
          while dropping into the canyon.

          He would still have been a coupla hundred
          feet behind the line… but he would have
          seen where they went.

          So for Marsh… it very well could have simply
          been a “There they go… and I must follow them…
          for I am their leader” moment.

          I still believe Steed made the ACTUAL real-time
          decision to enter the canyon, without any
          additional consultations with the ‘lagging behind’
          Eric Marsh… and I also am convinced that
          Steed, himself, had NO IDEA there was ANY
          other way to get there.

          Steed had NOT attended the morning briefing.
          Steed had NOT seen any ‘Google map on an iPad’.

          He simply just didn’t know that two-track road
          continued due south… but then turned due
          east towards the ranch.

          The SAIR makes it sound like all these
          ‘What THEY knew and when THEY knew it’
          and ‘What THEY decided’ stuff was some
          sort of democratic process and everyone
          got in a huddle and shared information and
          made decisions together that afternoon.

          Total nonsense.

          There were moments ( like the critical moment
          about whether to drop into the canyon to get
          to the ranch ) that were NOT ‘shared moments
          of decision’ in any way.

          Steed was alone leading those men to where
          he had been instructed to take them over
          the radio just 20 minutes earlier.

          He saw the destination… only knew ONE way
          to get there… and just made the decision
          himself without consulting with anyone.
          He thought he was just doing his job.

          I think Marsh was just as clueless about staying
          on the two-track as an option… but regardless…
          my point is that I don’t think even Marsh had
          any participation in the ACTUAL decision.

          Steed got there first. He was in charge.
          He could see the ranch… and what looked
          like the ‘quick’ way to get there… he had
          been told that ASM2 said the fire was 2
          hours away from town… so he just put
          his left-turn blinker on… went into the
          canyon… and everyone else followed him.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Correction… the SAIR does NOT say it
            was ‘ASM2’ that told them the fire was
            still 1-2 hours away from town circa 1550.

            The SAIR simply says it was ‘Air Attack’
            that told them that at 1550.

            This same ‘Air Attack’ that told them that
            is the one that was about to leave the
            fire because someone onboard was about
            to hit some flying time limit.

            See my post just below with more about
            this ( now infamous ) moment when
            ‘Air Attack’ told them they had 1-2 hours
            before the fire would reach Yarnell…
            and they (apparently) believed him.

      • Tex (Sonny) Harold Eldon Gilligan and Joy A Collura says

        Joy noted that immediately when Sonny asked her to proofread it AFTER he submitted it-
        I just smiled. Sonny had MacLean in his mind but the person next to him at the library had an envelope with McCain on it—funny. He knew of the error right away as Joy pointed it out. Thank you. Soft smiles.

  91. calvin says

    couple of thoughts after reviewing Mackezie pictures and videos. Yes videos! Remember, there are two separate videos spliced together. One thing Eric Marsh DID NOT DO is splice these two videos together! Ok here is my thought. I believe the first video could have been taken before the picture, that is attributed to Mackenzie (time stamped 1550) that appears on p23 of SAIR. The fire appears to me to be more advanced in the picture compared with the first video. I think the second video definitely comes after the picture. Thoughts? Next, the picture above (p23 SAIR) is time stamped to be at the exact moment (1550) Mcdonough is being escorted off of Sesame Street. Correct me if I am wrong, but this picture shows the grader and lookout area where Mcdonough is being picked up? If my assumption is correct, It looks like the fire was pretty close to the grader and even closer to Sesame and GM Supt truck and buggies. Back to the second Mackenzie video. Steed says he believes the fire has almost made it to the two track they walked in on. A similar event is noted in the SAIR (p24) but DIV A says the fire is almost as far as the GM vehicles. Also in both videos there appear to be 10 hotshots plus the cameraman (Mackenzie.) Eight others didn’t make the video plus Marsh.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      >> calvin wrote…
      >> I believe the first video could have been taken before
      >> the picture, that is attributed to Mackenzie (time
      >> stamped 1550) that appears on p23 of SAIR.
      >> The fire appears to me to be more advanced in the picture
      >> compared with the first video. I think the second video
      >> definitely comes after the picture. Thoughts?

      I just did another ‘side-by-side’ with P23 of the SAIR ( the
      1550 photo ) and the video running… and I stand by what
      I reported earlier on this. I believe the the 1550 photo
      in the SAIR ( The mysterious missing IMG_0888 from
      MacKenzie’s memory card ) was definitely taken BEFORE
      either of the videos.

      The 1550 photo shows them ARRIVING at this location
      where they are all about to ‘sit down’… and MacKenzie
      would soon shoot his video clip(s). The men are walking
      DOWN the rockpile to a spot closer to that small cactus
      plant you see there… and they will be much farther down
      on the rocks in a few moments ( and sitting down,
      resting, etc. ) when MacKenzie shoots his video(s).

      The fire has obviously advanced on the ground itself between
      the time of the 1550 photo and the start of the first video clip.
      Also… look at the SMOKE. In the 1550 video there is a distinct
      vertical component to it that is greatly reduced to the
      horizontal plane when the first video clip starts.

      I believe this means the first VIDEO clip is actually showing
      the moment when the outflow boundary started to hit that
      fireline and ‘lay it down’ more towards the horizontal. This
      also matches the numerous events reported in the SAIR
      as taking place ‘around 1550’ such as ‘fire reversing
      direction’ and ‘wind shifting’ and whatnot.

      >> calvin also wrote
      >> Next, the picture above (p23 SAIR) is time stamped to be
      >> at the exact moment (1550) Mcdonough is being escorted
      >> off of Sesame Street. Correct me if I am wrong, but this
      >> picture shows the grader and lookout area where
      >> Mcdonough is being picked up?

      Yes. It does.

      The ‘old-grader’ location in the video clips is that small
      ‘dot in the center of a tan area’ in the distance…. right about
      in the center of the photo… just above and to the left of
      that small green cactus plant on the rocks. It is also
      pretty much ‘dead center’ in the 1550 photo but they were
      still just moving down the rock pile, and closer to that
      cactus plant, to the spot where MacKenzie would shoot
      his video(s) in just a few moments AFTER the photo.

      The ‘old-grader’ location in the center of these photos also
      has ( for lack of a better description ) a TADPOLE-like
      appearance… with the dirt trail leading AWAY from it
      to the east and ‘curling away into the distance’.

      1550 is a pretty important moment, as far as the SAIR goes.

      It mentions 1550 a LOT.

      1550 is the infamous moment when Eric Marsh makes his
      first mysterious ‘We are working our way off the top’
      statement to OPS1 and also the moment OPS1 is
      documented as telling ( ordering? ) him to “just hunker
      and be safe.”

      NOTE: The SAIR actually says OPS1 was just ‘advising’
      him to do this. Curious. More careful choice of words on
      their part, I believe.

      1550 is also the moment ASM2 ( mistakenly ) tells
      Eric Marsh that the fire might reach Yarnell in TWO hours
      time. It would only ACTUALLY take about 45 minutes
      from the 1550 moment. ASM2 was WAAY wrong.

      Page 22 of the SAIR…

      :: OPS1 is listening on the radio to make sure everyone
      :: received the most recent weather announcement.
      :: At about 1550, he radios DIVS A directly to ask if he got
      :: the weather update and if he is “in a good spot.”
      :: DIVS A affirms that he received the update, and he
      :: tells OPS1 the winds are starting to get “squirrely” up
      :: on the ridge. He says he is working his way off the top
      :: and OPS1 closes by advising DIVS A to hunker and
      :: be safe.
      :: At about 1550, Air Attack tells DIVS A the fire is heading
      :: quickly toward Yarnell and could reach the town in one to
      :: two hours. He also says the Granite Mountain IHC’s crew
      :: carriers may be in the path of the fire. DIVS A acknowledges
      :: and tells Air Attack he has a plan to address this issue.

      There is no ‘cut’ or ‘edit’ of my own up above between those
      two paragraphs in the SAIR. The appear right together, both
      mentioning 1550, in the SAIR report itself.

      >> calvin also wrote…
      >> If my assumption is correct, It looks like the fire was
      >> pretty close to the grader and even closer to Sesame
      >> and GM Supt truck and buggies.

      Well… not really. Look again. The fire was definitely picking
      up steam here and the smoke was starting to change from
      the vertical plane to the horizontal ( outflow hitting it )… but
      there were still quite a few minutes before it would overtake
      either the old-grader location or the part of Sesame that
      can be seen in the photo/videos.

      >> calvin also wrote…
      >> Back to the second Mackenzie video.
      >> Steed says he believes the fire has almost made it to
      >> the two track they walked in on. A similar event is
      >> noted in the SAIR (p24) but DIV A says the fire is almost
      >> as far as the GM vehicles.

      I believe the explanation for that is that if you look closely
      at the video clip(s)… the actual fireline is on an angle
      that actually puts the east end of it closer to where
      Sesame meets the cut-over road to the Shrine road
      than the west end of the fire was in relation to the
      old-grader spot.

      In other words… look at the way Sesame trails off into
      the distance from the old-grader spot. It actually sort
      of ‘approaches’ that more advanced east end of the
      fireline which is kinda hidden by the smoke but still
      visible off in the east.

      Marsh was probably looking at this too and might have
      thought there was a chance the fireline was going to
      reach that east end of the trail BEFORE it even overtook
      the old-grader location.

      The timing is all pretty critical here. Marsh knew that
      Brendan had bailed and that he was SUPPOSED
      to get picked up by BR Supt and taken to the vehicles
      to evac them… but at this moment in time ( 1550 )
      I think even Marsh was ‘sweating that out’ and
      wondering if they would be able to pull it off down there.

      I’m sure he ( Marsh ) was much relieved when Brendan
      made his FIRST ( of two ) calls back to him telling him
      “The vehicles are safe.” The FIRST was from the Shrine
      area… the next one was between 4:15 PM and 4:39 PM
      when they were all safely back at the Ranch House

      >> Also in both videos there appear to be 10 hotshots
      >> plus the cameraman (Mackenzie.) Eight others didn’t
      >> make the video plus Marsh.

      Correct… but look at the 1550 photo MacKenzie took when
      they were just arriving at this spot and moving DOWN the
      boulder pile to settle in.for a while.

      There was plenty of ‘Boulder Pile’ there for the other 8
      fireman to be parked BEHIND MacKenzie when he
      shot his video clip(s).

  92. Robert the Second says

    Mike and Bob,

    Well said gentlemen. I too am not accepting the Jonestown metaphor. Although I have used it quite lot since this tragedy to highlight to others, especially the structure/wildland firefighters, to “not drink the Kool-aid” that says they ‘willingly gave their lives’ and ‘it was nobody’s fault’ and ‘things just happen.’ They violated ‘The Rules’ and like so many others in the past, they paid for it with their lives. I still contend that there were ‘bad decisions with prior good outcomes’ and Groupthink involved and influencing their thought process and decision-making.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      My apologies for even typing that word ( The ‘J’ word ).
      I had just finished reading Mr. Powers astute observation
      about the SAIR’s own published ‘fireline progession’ charts,
      with timestamps, and realized myself that he is RIGHT.

      There is a GOOD chance that the advanced fireline WAS
      visible approaching the mouth of that canyon BEFORE
      they decided to drop down into it.

      The ‘J’ word was about the only thing that leaped into my
      mind at that point to possibly explain why they would
      have continued this ‘mission’ they thought were on.

      I truly do NOT believe that Eric Marsh or Jesse Steed wanted
      to ‘go out in a blaze of glory’ that afternoon… and take 17
      other innocent kids with them. Even if they saw that
      fireline in the distance from the top of the ridge, before
      heading right at it… they still must have thought they
      could ‘get around it in time’, or something.

      At the moment… I am transposing all the exact lat/long
      coordinates for all of the timestamped fireline locations
      published in the SAIR itself onto a Google Earth map
      of the area as ‘waypoints’.

      It will then be possible to see… using Google Earth
      ‘stick to ground’ options and 3D views… whether any of
      those documented fireline locations WERE, in fact,
      actually VISIBLE as GM walked south on that road
      and whether they could/should have see the fireline
      sneaking around the corner of that canyon BEFORE
      they dropped into it. Stay tuned.

      • calvin says

        WTKTT…. The image used on p23 of SAIR by Chris Mackenzie does not match the Mackenzie photos in Daily Courier. Image 0889 and 0890 (from Daily Courier) are time stamped 4:02pm, and they show the exact same image as the image in the SAIR “taken” at 1550. There are three images on Mackenzie photos #0885, 0886, and 0887 that are time stamped 3:52 but are taken from a different location. A DIFFERENT LOCATION! The landscape is totally different and the distance from the fire line is different. Thanks for all your work on establishing geo coordinates. Could you look at this and correct me if I am wrong. Thanks

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          calvin… see a longer response to this down below.
          You are absolutely right about what you have
          ‘noticed’. The explanation is that the SAIT fellas
          just decided to ignore the real time of the
          IMG_0888 MacKenzie image and put an
          arbitrary time of 1550 on it… because that was
          what the narrative on their page 23 was
          focused on and that’s where they wanted to
          use the picture. That’s all there is to it.

          They have LIED about the actual time that
          Christopher MacKenzie took that picture they
          are using on page 23 of the SAIR.

          Some investigation ( and report ), huh?

  93. Bob Powers says

    We have one known statement.
    1 Granit Mountain was moving to reengage .
    This brings up several questions we have all been asking here.
    Were they told to move?
    Did marsh and or Steed make the decision?
    Did an immediate Supervisor or fire chief tell them to move?
    They had several options to move back to Yarnell, They did not take safety route to a safety zone. They were already in one. Why leave a safety zone to go to another one? Escape routes should be marked, close scouted and easily negotiated to reach a SZ in a short time. Why violate the LCES to get to that ranch on a 1.6 mile hike. So far not a Firefighter in this conversation has been able to say why it was a proper decision. The SAIR only confirmed that they took a hike and it was neither good or bad decision making. They followed protocol, what protocol ? What proper procedures?
    Who among all of the highly qualified firefighters would go into unburned fuel for 1.6 miles with an active flame front to our SE and no continuous fuel break between us and the fire. Under what circumstances would you do that knowing the weather and fuel type you were looking at.

  94. Bob Powers says

    Mike I do agree with you we do not need to get to a point of name calling. We need to stay professional and do what we have been doing and work on the facts. WTKTT you have added a lot of research to this conversation and I am grateful for that. Keep away from the hero’s and suicidal stuff, I know you use it to make a point. It just doesn’t help the conversation.

  95. mike says

    WTKTT – in response to your reply above.

    I am sure that Eric Marsh did not tell his crew “Let’s go be heroes”, if he had they might have told him he could go alone. That statement reflects OUR judgment of what they were doing. Whatever they were doing they did not see it as frivolous, unimportant or tilting at windmills. There are only a few things it could be. We need to understand exactly what that was. The SAIR seems predicated on the fact that whatever it was, it is unknowable. I do not think so. It may not even be in accordance with what we know to be the case, it may just reflect what they thought they knew or were told at that time.

    The easy answer to why they underestimated the risk is that they ignored the rules. That is true, but apparently they did so (Marsh knows the rules) thinking that it was safe to do so. Now the lesson here is that such thinking is a very bad idea. But standing on the ridge, looking at that fire, how did he come to the conclusion he did? What did he see that we do not? We do not want anyone to repeat his thought process here, so exactly what was it?

    Unless we uncover more radio or video evidence, or someone comes forward, the answers to these questions may always be a bit murky. Even cell phone records won’t tell us what was said. But I still believe that combining the facts of this case with trying to understand how they saw things that day could get us pretty close.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      >> mike wrote
      >> I am sure that Eric Marsh did not tell his
      >> crew “Let’s go be heroes”,

      I am not, and I’m also not sure how you could
      ( be so certain of that ). About the only thing I (we)
      know for SURE, even now, is that 19 good men died a
      horrible death and there doesn’t appear to be
      any sane reason for it to have happened.

      >> mile also wrote…
      >> if he had they might have told him he could go alone.

      From what I now understand of the culture… and this
      particular group… I doubt it. I think they would have
      all just said “Copy that”, or something, picked up their saws,
      and carried on.

      Let’s make no mistake, here. In this more-than-quasi military environment… only 2 men out on the ridge could have made
      the decision to move… and the other 17 were required to
      ‘follow orders’, unless they invoke that special ‘exception
      moment’ documented in the rules of wildland firefighting,
      and the dissent would then need to be fully documented
      and whatnot.

      I don’t think any of those 17 kids would have done that, that day.

      Even Darrell Willis ( their boss ) has stood at the site where
      they all died horribly, faced the camera, the press, and the
      world and said… “I would have followed these men anywhere”.

      By ‘these men’.. he means Eric Marsh and/or Jesse Steed.

      >> That statement reflects OUR judgment of what
      >> they were doing.

      I lost you. Who is OUR?
      Are you the official representative of a group, or something?
      Did I miss that in a prior message?

      >> Whatever they were doing they did not see it as frivolous,
      >> unimportant or tilting at windmills.

      Again… the ‘they’, for the purposes of investigating this
      accident, would be Eric Marsh and/or Jesse Steed.
      The other 17 men were required to just “do what they’re told”.

      I totally agree… THEY ( Eric and/or Jesse ) must have
      THOUGHT it was important. If they could have seen what
      we can now see in videos… all their comrades standing
      around and doing nothing ( because no one was even
      asking them to try and do anything )… they may have
      adjusted their perceived sense of ‘importance’ that day.

      I wish they had ( seen the resources already there and
      totally available to do whatever THEY thought the were
      going to do with no water trucks or other proper
      structure protection equipment ).

      The roads in Glen Ilah were NOT ‘totally clogged’, as
      others have suggested. Even the recent articles about
      how disorganized the Glen Ilah evacuations were have
      personal accounts that prove emergency personnel
      WERE able to get just about everywhere they needed to.

      The recently discovered Russ Reason video also shows
      clearly that Lakewood drive going in/out of Glen Ilah was
      NOT ‘clogged up’ even at right around the time these
      men were dying out in the box canyon… yet more than
      2 dozen firefighters are just standing in a parking lot
      directly across from where Lakewood drive meets
      Highway 89 and doing nothing but looking up at the sky.

      >> There are only a few things it could be.
      >> We need to understand exactly what that was.

      Ummm… Yes. Totally agree. That’s why the discussion.

      >> The SAIR seems predicated on the fact that whatever
      >> it was, it is unknowable. I do not think so.

      Nor do I. Total agreement again.

      >> It may not even be in accordance with what we know to
      >> be the case, it may just reflect what they thought they
      >> knew or were told at that time.

      Again, total agreement.

      >> The easy answer to why they underestimated the risk is
      >> that they ignored the rules. That is true, but apparently
      >> they did so (Marsh knows the rules) thinking that it was
      >> safe to do so.

      I’m not so sure. You just got done saying up above that you
      believe this decision making on the part of these two men
      was mostly based on a ‘perceived’ sense of ‘importance’.

      I think you may be right… and it was THAT primary perception
      that was the gauge for other things like whether it was
      actually SAFE to make this move at that time.

      In other words… I believe it’s possible they either felt it
      was SO important ( or were TOLD it was SO important )
      to make this move that they did, in fact, ignore all the
      rules and the ‘safety’ factors.

      >> Now the lesson here is that such thinking is a very
      >> bad idea.

      Unless ‘thinking’ wasn’t all that much a part of it… and they
      were simply TOLD “Today is Easter”… and the Easter eggs
      are in Glen Ilah. Pick them up NOW!

      >> But standing on the ridge, looking at that fire, how did he
      >> come to the conclusion he did?

      See above. Today was Easter for him, maybe?

      >> What did he see that we do not?

      …and what might he have been told, that we don’t know yet.

      >> We do not want anyone to repeat his thought process
      >> here, so exactly what was it?

      I don’t believe it’s all about psychoanalyzing either Marsh
      or Steed until we are absolutely sure it wasn’t “Easter”
      that day for both of them.

      Not all the FACTS are on the table yet.

      Remember… “When you have eliminated the impossible, all
      that remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

      The (what others would think is) ‘impossible’ hasn’t been
      eliminated from this investigation yet.

      >> Unless we uncover more radio or video evidence, or
      >> someone comes forward, the answers to these questions
      >> may always be a bit murky.

      That’s true. I think the next step is simply more of same.
      More research ( like is going on here )… and the results
      of the AOSHA report. I am still giving them the benefit of
      the doubt as to determining the real cause of this
      horrible State of Arizona sponsored workplace accident.

      Maybe they will ‘do the right thing’ here based on evidence
      THEY might already have and tell us what REALLY happened.

      >> Even cell phone records won’t tell us what was said.

      No… not unless anyone knows someone at the NSA and
      the actual conversations were captured… but they will
      certainly indicate who to ‘talk to’ to next and, perhaps,
      discover what was said.

      >> But I still believe that combining the facts of this case
      >> with trying to understand how they saw things that
      >> day could get us pretty close.

      Totally agree. 100 percent.
      Carry on.

  96. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    The SAIR doesn’t have much to say about the moment the fire ACTUALLY
    reached the Boulder Springs Ranch, but the report does mention that
    moment in its ‘narrative’…

    Page 29 of the SAIR…

    :: The fire reaches the Glen Ilah community at the south end of
    :: Yarnell during Granite Mountain IHC’s communications with ASM2.
    :: The owner of the Boulder Springs Ranch, on the town’s west edge,
    :: happens to go outside to check on her dog. As she gets to the door,
    :: she realizes the fire has advanced significantly toward her house.
    :: She and her husband run outside, put all of their livestock into the
    :: barn, and then return to their house just as the fire sweeps over
    :: their property. The owners, their animals, and their property are
    :: unharmed thanks to fire-resistant construction and defensible
    :: space around their buildings.

    There is also this interesting event noted in the SAIR’s own ‘timeline’
    on page 64 of the SAIR…

    1653 ( 4:53 PM ) Electricity goes off at Boulder Springs Ranch

    Using Google Maps and satellite images in close-up it would appear that
    this Boulder Springs Ranch is ‘off the grid’ and pretty self-sufficient.

    There are no visible power lines leading from Deertrack Drive in Glen Ilah
    down the dirt road (driveway) that leads to the ranch.

    The above-ground Glen Ilah electric grid terminates right there with
    a ‘dead-pole’ right where the Deertrack Drive asphalt ends and the dirt
    road to the ranch begins. There is also no visible ground level junction box
    to feed any buried lines in that direction.

    I also don’t see any phone lines leading to the ranch, either.

    The ranch uses the Satellite based WildBlue Internet Service so that
    would be another indicator that this place is ‘off the grid’ as far
    as local utilities ( electric / phone ) go.

    The actual owners of this ranch are Lee and DJ Helm.

    They are both publicly credited in the SAIR report for information supplied
    such as when they lost their electricity and the narrative shown above
    from page 29 of the SAIR.

    I found Mr. Helm’s email address online since he is heavily involved with
    the Prescott Historical Preservation Society and I’m certainly not going to
    publish that here, but the domain part of his email address is @wildblue.com
    which is a leading satellite based ISP ( Internet Service Provider ).

    So that really does indicate that this place is ‘off the public utility grid’.

    Looking very closely at the satellite images of this ranch ( and at the
    Joy Collura photos of this ranch )… there is what appears to be a
    ‘generator shed’ right about where it ought to be… on the very northern
    perimeter of the site and off by itself ( because of the noise, fumes, etc. )
    and that would be exactly here…

    Latitude: 34.219788
    Longitude: -112.770288

    34.219788, -112.770288

    It also looks like, as well as they planned that site, the spot chosen for the
    generator shed was built a little too close to the perimeter for comfort.

    It’s close to some pretty heavy stands of manzanita and perhaps that’s why
    they lost the power. Flame lengths on the northern perimeter would have
    certainly nailed this generator shack and taken it out.

    So if that’s where the generator really is/was, then the 4:53 PM time reported
    in the SAIR for the loss of electricity at the ranch really is a good indicator
    of EXACTLY when the flame front actually did hit the very northern perimeter’
    of the Boulder Springs Ranch.

    NOTE: On page 81 of the SAIR is their full ‘fireline progression’
    chart and they actually do have an established ‘line’ for the fire
    at the 1650 ( 4:50 PM ) timeframe. Their leading edge at that time
    is just short of the north perimeter of the Boulder Springs Ranch
    so this would match almost exactly the 1653 ( 4:53 PM ) time
    for the flames reaching the northern perimeter of the ranch
    and the generator shack being taken out.

    If this 4:53 time can then be trusted to be the moment the fire actually reached
    the northern perimeter of the ranch then that changes the total amount of time
    that GM might have had to actually REACH the Ranch if they had actually
    even KNOWN about this alternate escape route ( there is no real evidence
    that they did ) and decided to go that way instead of the box canyon.

    Again… trusting the SAIR time of 4:20 as being the ‘moment of decision’ when
    GM decided to leave the two-track road and drop into the box canyon, the new
    time of 4:53 for the flamefront arriving at the northern perimeter of the ranch
    would give a total ‘survivable’ travel time on the alternate escape route
    of 33 minutes ( 1,980 seconds ).

    The fixed travel distance for the entire alternate escape route from the
    ‘Descent Point’ up on the ridge all the way to the fence at the southern
    perimeter of the ranch clearing is still…

    1.16981 Mi., 2058 yards. ( 6174 feet ).

    With a full 33 minutes to cover that distance ( and still survive ) then GM’s
    ‘travel rate’ all along the alternate escape route would only have had to
    have been…

    62.36 yards per minute
    1.03 yards per second
    187.09 feet per minute
    3.1 feet per second
    2.1 miles per hour

    That would been really, really doable… even for a single-file line of 19
    men traveling with packs on.

    Don’t forget that GM would still have been approaching the perimeter of the
    ranch clearing from due south, so even if the flamefront was reaching the
    north perimeter of that clearing at the same moment they were arriving at
    the southern perimeter they would have had that extra time to kick the door
    down on the residence in the southern half of the clearing and get safely
    inside before the fire swept AROUND that entire ranch clearing.

    They probably would have made it, no problem… if they even had a clue that
    this option was available to them… which, regardless of anything the SAIR
    says… I still believe they did NOT.

  97. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    >> mike wrote…
    >> Maybe it is just me, but it seems like we are getting a little lost in
    >> the weeds right now.

    Disagree. I think ‘getting a little lost’ is the way to ‘finding your way home’.

    Some very good (new) information has come out in the last few days
    that hadn’t been noticed before. I think that’s a GOOD thing.

    >> Let’s accept that this was not “Jonestown”
    >> (if it was, there really aren’t any lessons to be learned).

    Agreed… but just short of the ‘suicidal’ component to this inexplicable
    event… it MAY come out that, in the future, some better personality
    testing should be required before anyone is put in charge of the
    lives of 19 other young men. Fanatics need not apply.

    >> mike also wrote…
    >> Also I don’t believe Marsh was Captain Queeg, unless further evidence
    >> develops. It is a long way from someone who is driven to be excellent to
    >> become someone willing to take psychotic risks.

    Sorry, mike, I have to disagree ( but only with the second part of your statement ).

    Sometimes… that ‘distance’ you describe can be as short as a walk
    through a fuel-filled box canyon with no lookouts or ‘eyes on the fire’.

    >> mike also said…
    >> 2 things can be said with a fair amount of certainty.
    >> First, they descended with some purpose in mind – WHAT WAS IT?

    Be heroes?… when no one was even asking them to and their comrades
    who were already THERE weren’t even trying and have been video-taped
    just standing around in a parking lot and not trying to help anyone at all
    because no one was even asking them to, either?

    Obey orders?… and keep their jobs?

    >> Second, they expected to reach where they were going alive –

    Totally unqualified to hold the jobs they were being paid to do?

    >> I do not know the answers

    Me neither… not YET, anyway.

    >> but answer those questions and I think you will have a better
    >> understanding of what happened.
    >> We have to get inside their heads, not look at it as outsiders.

    Personally… I don’t even think it’s time to try and ‘get inside their heads’
    yet… when it’s perfectly obvious there are more FACTS that have
    to be revealed. Let’s get all the FACTS on the table first before we
    really start the head-shrinking.

    >> mike also wrote…
    >> One thing about Brendan McDonough. Yes he may well know more
    >> than he has let on publicly. In his interview with the Courier he said
    >> something to the effect of “I’ll always maintain there was no bad
    >> decision” – slightly curious wording maybe, not sure what to make of it.
    >> Maybe the “maintain” was for emphasis, maybe reflecting that “this is
    >> my story and I’m sticking to it”. Who knows.

    It is kind of funny there that… just prior to him making that statement
    in the video… he appears to ‘pull himself up’ and ‘make that little speech’
    like it had been well-rehearsed, or something.

    My take is that McDonough might have even been in the room with the
    investigators when, even before most ( or any? ) of the facts were in…
    everyone decided that there will BE NO BLAME HERE… NO MATTER
    WHAT… and he is simply now repeating that ‘official mantra’.

    He just keeps saying ‘it was an accident’… and ‘these things happen’ and
    ‘firefighters die in bad weather all the time’… and stuff like that… like it’s all
    been rehearsed, or something.

    There are accidents… and then there are accidents.
    Sometimes they just happen… sometimes there’s a reason.

    The verdict is not altogether in on this particular ‘accident’ yet.

    >> mike also wrote…
    >> Finally, at some point he said that was the last time he heard his
    >> superintendent’s voice. What time was that?

    The ‘last time he HEARD him/them’ is KNOWN. ( 4:41 PM – See details below ).

    The ‘last time he TALKED to him/them’ is still NOT KNOWN.
    ( Sometime between 4:15 PM and 4:39 PM ).

    What McDonough actually said in his public video interview is this…

    :: the fire activity was just picking up and keep picking up from when I had
    :: left ( my lookout spot )… and… around that time… this had to been
    :: around 4… 4:15, 4:30 ish… I’m guessing…my times on that day are
    :: really hazy… um… we ended up going… they kinda pulled the resources
    :: off and the divisions and… jus cus of what was goin’ on and people on
    :: their own were doing it jus…wasn’t… uh… safe area… cus at that point
    :: when we had moved we were even closer to the fire… and… we pulled
    :: off, we parked at a cafe’ ( the Ranch House Restaurant ), and during the
    :: time, ya know, told my superintendent and captain that we had the vehicles
    :: in a safe area… and… once again… if they needed anything just give me
    :: a call and I’ll see ‘em soon… and that’s the last time that I talked to ‘em.
    :: Um… ( Long pause )
    :: I had heard my superintendent relay to the IC… about… um…
    :: them having to deploy and to set up… prepare a deployment site…
    :: and that was the last time that I heard my superintendent’s voice.

    The ‘last time he HEARD them’ is documented in the SAIR.

    NOTE: In his public video interview, McDonough’s reference to the
    “last time I heard my superintendent’s voice” was describing the
    “we are deploying” message from Marsh that everyone on the air-to-ground
    channel (10) heard at 4:41 PM… but I always thought it was odd that, even
    that long after the incident, he was still choosing to be the ‘good little soldier’
    and would still be using such regimented language like ‘my superintendent’
    instead of just saying “that was the last time I heard Eric’s voice”… but that’s
    neither here nor there, I suppose. Maybe they weren’t even friends.

    The moment McDonough is talking about there has a KNOWN (published)
    time on it. It was the same thing everyone listening to channel 10
    ( air-to-ground ) heard at that moment.

    According to the SAIR… 1641 ( 4:41 PM ).

    Page 28 of the SAIR…

    :: At about 1641…
    :: DIVS A (now more urgent): “Yeah, I’m here with Granite Mountain
    :: Hotshots, our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a
    :: deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in the
    :: brush and I’ll give you a call when we are under the sh— the shelters.”
    :: ASM2: “Okay copy that. So you’re on the south side of the fire then?”
    :: At about 1642, DIVS A yells: “Affirm!”

    The ‘time that he (McDonough) last TALKED to him/them’ is still the MYSTERY.

    Brendan says that as soon as they ( he and the BR crew members helping
    him ) got all the GM vehicles safely to the Ranch House Restaurant that
    he then (quote) “told my superintendent and captain that we had the vehicles
    in a safe area… and… once again… if they needed anything just give me
    a call and I’ll see ‘em soon… and that’s the last time that I talked to ‘em.”

    So what TIME was that, really?

    Still UNKNOWN (specifically)… but we also now know that HAD to be
    sometime after 4:15 PM ( At the moment GM had already secretly
    headed south away from the black where they had been told to stay
    and were about to drop down into the box canyon ) and before 4:39 PM,
    which is the moment Steed broke in on the air-to-ground channel 10
    and said “We are in front of the flaming front!”.

    That’s only a 24 minute window… but a pretty critical one given what
    was known to be happening around that time.

    It’s really quite inconceivable ( to me, anyway ) that McDonough could
    have had the simple, terse exchange he says he did with Steed or
    Marsh ( or both, he says? ) during that critical time.

    Here he was… the only member of that crew who could do anything at
    that point with regards to reuniting his entire crew with their vehicles…
    and we’re supposed to believe more wasn’t discussed on that call
    he made from the Ranch House Restaurant parking lot?

    As in… WHERE (exactly) where they… WHAT were they doing… WHEN
    did they expect to arrive where they were headed?… WHAT ( if anything )
    was Brendan supposed to do at that point… etc. etc.

    McDonough does a good job in his interviews of describing ONLY what
    HE said. He never once tries to elaborate on anything anyone else said
    in return or things he might have simply overheard… as if this is what
    he had been ‘coached’ to do. ( Don’t discuss radio conversations ).

    I find it hard to believe that the only thing Marsh or Steed would have
    had to say to McDonough ( on the GM private channel ) when he called
    them from the Ranch House Restaurant would have been a simple
    ‘Copy that’ ( Which Brendan conspicuously doesn’t even mention even
    if that really is all that was said in return. )

    What did Steed or Marsh REALLY say back to him then, at this critical
    moment in time ( 4:15 to 4:39 PM )?

    NOTHING at all?

    This is what McDonough ( and the SAIR ) would have us believe, apparently.

    I’m not buying it.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Forgot to mention… the very fact that McDonough has publicly
      reported this SECOND “I’ll see ya soon” conversation with
      BOTH Marsh and Steed automatically makes mincemeat of
      the SAIR’s fundamental ( and essential ) claim that there
      were ‘no communications with GM for a 30-37 minute period’.

      If the timing is right here… then Brendan McDonough himself
      had a VERY critical ‘direct conversation’ with BOTH of them
      at a VERY critical time right smack in the middle of this
      ‘blackout’ the SAIR is trying to sell us.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      CORRECTION to something I said above.

      Brendan McDonough most certainly has ‘reported what people
      have said to him’ on the radio… such as exactly what Jesse
      Steed was saying to him when he needed to abandon his
      lookout post and whatnot.

      My point was that AFTER that… from the time BR Supt
      dropped him off at the GM Supervisor truck ( and he was
      now able to get off the portable and use the onboard
      radio )… there is NOTHING being reported by him.

      Except that one (crucial) conversation he had with
      ( by his own admission ) BOTH Marsh and Steed,
      between 4:15 PM and 4:39 PM from the parking lot
      of the Ranch House Restaurant… and all we get
      from him there ( unlike his free recounting of BOTH sides
      of his earlier conversation with Steed ) is a
      ONE-WAY description of him saying something to
      Marsh/Steed… but them (apparently) having absolutely
      nothing to say in response.

      From the time Brendan was ‘left alone’ with the GM
      vehicles and just waiting for the BR crew to return
      to help him move them… on through the evacuation
      out the Shrine road and down to the Ranch House

      …there is no doubt that Brendan McDonough was
      hearing EVERYTHING that was being said… including
      this mysterious ‘discussing their options’ conversation
      AND, most certainly, that entire ‘comfort level’ conversation
      partially captured in the 4:02 MacKenzie video.

      The only way Brendan could have NOT heard ALL of this
      is if he had simply jumped into the GM Supervisor truck,
      fired up the air-conditioner, dialed down the radio and
      threw in the heavy metal CDs for the next 45 minutes.

      I really, really doubt that happened.

      He had PROMISED Steed/Marsh (twice) that ‘if they needed
      anything just give me a call’… and that’s a PROMISE that he
      would, indeed, be closely monitoring the radio and listening to
      EVERYTHING until he met up with them again.

      McDonough heard it all that day.

  98. mike says

    Maybe it is just me, but it seems like we are getting a little lost in the weeds right now. Let’s accept that this was not “Jonestown” (if it was, there really aren’t any lessons to be learned). Also I don’t believe Marsh was Captain Queeg, unless further evidence develops. It is a long way from someone who is driven to be excellent to become someone willing to take psychotic risks. 2 things can be said with a fair amount of certainty. First, they descended with some purpose in mind – WHAT WAS IT? Second, they expected to reach where they were going alive – WHY DID THEY UNDERESTIMATE THE RISK? I do not know the answers, but answer those questions and I think you will have a better understanding of what happened. We have to get inside their heads, not look at it as outsiders.

    One thing about Brendan McDonough. Yes he may well know more than he has let on publicly. In his interview with the Courier he said something to the effect of “I’ll always maintain there was no bad decision” – slightly curious wording maybe, not sure what to make of it. Maybe the “maintain” was for emphasis, maybe reflecting that “this is my story and I’m sticking to it”. Who knows.

    Finally, at some point he said that was the last time he heard his superintendent’s voice. What time was that?

  99. Robert the Second says


    And he is DEFINITELY using a Bendix-King personal portable but you have much better software than I to tell what model.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Deduction… my dear Watson!

      The bright red clamshell on Steed’s Bendix is ( apparently? )
      only sold as an accessory for the GHS-CMD.

  100. Robert the Second says


    Here’s a few radio/communications items you can ponder and investigate:

    GMHS said “and I’m switchin’ over my radio to call the other hotshot crew.” This means to me that he is on Crew Net and manually switching to a Tactical (TAC) channel to talk to the “other Hot Shot Crew.” So, he could have done this at least this way – manually switching the channel select knob to wherever their TAC was, then flip off the scan toggle and talk on TAC.

    Here’s a link to the Bendix-King programming manual. Look for the MODES section. There should be A, B, and C.


    As far as the Air Guard fiasco, it’s POSSIBLE that if the GMHS had all cloned off the one radio they programmed specifically for the YHF, then they would’ve all had it wrong. There are 16 CHANNELS of 16 FREQUENCIES for each channel.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      RTS… thanks. I already have that manual here.
      I still hope SOME investigator was smart enough to at
      least discover/record what MODE each unit was in.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      RTS… interesting point you make about the ‘cloning’ moment.
      Nothing in the SAIR about if/when that ever actually happened.

      It is seriously looking right now that even if they all drove
      DOWN to Yarnell in a ‘caravan’ with ‘Marsh up front’ ( as
      the Kyle Dickman reports via his interview with McDonough )
      then ONLY Marsh went to the Yarnell Hill Fire Station for
      the briefing and everyone else might have gone straight
      to the Ranch House Restaurant for breakfast. ( It opened
      at 5:30 AM that Sunday and they are famous for their
      breakfasts ).

      This might account for the HOUR of separation that began
      that morning between Marsh and Steed/Crew… but then
      WHEN would this ‘cloning’ you describe have happened,

      We are looking at a scenario here where Marsh was not
      anywhere near Steed/Crew until well after 9:00 AM when
      they finally got up where Marsh had already been for
      more than an hour.

      Would they have ‘cloned’ then?… off Marsh’s radio?… or
      would they simply have ‘blown it off’ and never done it at all?

      • Robert the Second says


        The cloning could have occured all at once, one radio at a time, or all through the shift at different times. It only takes a couple minutes each radio, even while driving along.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          So… since we know most of the radios survived
          the burnover… it should be easy to see/prove
          whether they had all been properly ‘cloned’
          that day… right?

  101. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Shortly after the Prescott Daily Courier published the first-ever seen
    copies of the photos from Christopher MacKenzie’s Canon Powershot
    camera taken on the ridge just 45 minutes before he was to die…

    …they published ANOTHER page of photographs from MacKenzie’s camera.

    Apparently… the Prescott Daily Courier was given access to ALL the photos
    from MacKenzie’s camera… and not just the ones shot on the day he died.

    That second page features photographs that Christopher took at the
    DOCE and West Spruce fire(s) that GM worked just two days before
    the tragedy on June 28, 2013.

    The FIRST 3 pictures on that page are ‘closeups’ of Captain Jesse
    Steed standing on top of a ridge and holding his portable radio in his hand.

    I’ve been able to ID Jesse’s radio as the usual Bendix/King GPH-CMD
    commonly used by wildland firefighters. Jesse’s has a 16 inch antenna
    extension and the usual bright red clamshell battery extension on the
    heel of the radio.

    Unfortunately… it means that particular radio is not the ‘latest and greatest’
    and does NOT have the ability to punch up ‘recall logs’ for all transmits
    and receives ( time, date, channel in/out, etc. ).

    As with all Bendix/King portables, however, there still SHOULD be a way
    to tell what the ‘last transmit channel’ was… as long as it was not in
    ‘fully automatic’ mode.

    From what I can tell… most wildland firefighters would have been using
    the Bendix/King in one of the modes where the TRANSMIT channel must
    still be manually selected using the rotary dial switch on the top of the radio.

    I believe that would have been how Captain Steed ( and everyone else
    who had a portable radio that day ) would have been using it.

    NOTE: Brendan McDonough would know this. He had one all day.
    He would know how they all ‘usually’ used those radios ( which MODE ).

    I believe this might also explain why Jesse transmitted his first MAYDAY
    call on the air-to-ground Channel 10 when he thought he was transmitting
    on the other ‘AirGuard’ Channel 16.

    In the panic of the moment… I believe he simply ‘over-dialed’ the knob
    on the top of the radio and went past the selector for Channel 16 and
    just ended up with the selector knob in the Channel 10 position instead.

    Easily done if you are nervous or in a hurry.

    If that is the case… then the investigators SHOULD have been able to
    tell exactly which radio was set to which transmit channel when they
    were all collected at the scene… or… at the very least… have been
    able to record what MODE all the Bendix/Kings were in when these
    men died.

    I don’t know if any investigator actually did that… but they should have.

    It’s important to know ( if at all possible ) who was transmitting on what
    channel in those final moments. It fills out the story and would even
    answer some lingering questions about those final moments such as
    whether Eric Marsh took the time to ALSO set his own radio to the
    same WRONG channel ( Channel 10 instead of 16 ) in those final
    moments… or whether he simply grabbed Steed’s radio when he
    finally caught up to him and Steed took to helping the men prepare
    the deployment site.

    SIDENOTE: Perhaps this is a stretch ( a BIG stretch? ) but there MIGHT
    be a piece of evidence that already exists which proves the GM crew
    normally did use these radios in one of the ‘modes’ where you have
    to manually ‘switch’ to the desired transmit channel using the knob on top.

    In Brendan McDononugh’s public video interview… he said this…

    :: I, ah, relayed this information back to my captain and he…
    :: he told me… “No… I can see what’s goin’ on Brendan…
    :: just… make sure you’re safe… make sure everything’s
    :: good for you.”… and… I’m startin’ to walk down this road
    :: and I’m switchin’ over my radio to call the other hotshot crew
    :: if I can get a ride and… as soon as I’m in the process of tryin’
    :: to talk to them they’re already right there around the corner
    :: ready to pick me up.

    Notice what he says there about the way he uses his portable radio.

    He says… “I’m startin’ to walk down this road and I’m switchin’ over my
    radio to call the other hotshot crew.”

    So Brendan was having to (apparently?) ‘manually switch’ to another
    transmit channel in order to call the BR crew ( using the rotary dial
    switch on top of the radio ).

    Big stretch, maybe, but perhaps this means the normal use for a GM
    portable was NOT the ‘automatic’ mode(s) and you had to always use
    the dial on top to ‘switch’ to the desired transmit channel.

  102. Bob Powers says

    My hart is sad, my brain and all my training say’s this is not what a well qualified crew and its leaders do. Something is very very wrong and the SAIR has refused to address it. will check back tomorrow.

  103. Bob Powers says

    If the SAIR time frame is correct then GM should have ben seeing the fire front moving in their direction when the were on the ridge and before they dropped into the canyon. Yours and Calvin’s Times was what I was reflecting on. If the SAIR thought they could see the fire then the decision to move down the box canyon would have been a bad decision and would not have followed protocol. Based on there own time lines. Which is a contradiction to every body did everything Right. It is a place in time that a truly bad decision happened and the SAIR did not identify it. If they truly saw the fire moving towards them and thought they could beat it to the ranch then they were truly playing Russian roulette.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Powers… see my other response above… but if their OWN
      ‘fire progression chart’ in their OWN document is to be believed,
      and their OWN estimate for when the decision to drop down
      into that canyon is to be believed ( 4:20 PM )…

      …then they have pretty much established that this was an
      actual ‘Jonestown’ style suicide event.

      At 4:20 PM… that fireline MUST have been visible curling into
      the mouth of that canyon from the spot where they decided
      to just walk down into it… AND they must also have been
      able to feel the WIND coming right at them at that point.

      This chart on page 81 of the SAIR also adds almost 5 minutes
      to my estimates of how much time they had to reach the
      ranch via the alternate escape route. According to this
      chart ( and my ‘travel rate’ estimates )… they had PLENTY
      of time to make it and still be with us today. The only question
      now is what a ‘crime’ ( yes, I know how to use that word )
      it will be to discover they simply did not KNOW they had
      that alternative to stay alive that afternoon.

      This SAIR is simply “The gift that keeps on giving.”

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Followup: Even if ( for some reason ) they could not
        SEE that fireline developing at the mouth of that box
        canyon circa 4:20 PM… and they decided to descend
        into that killing zone, anyway…. according to the SAIR
        chart on page 81 then every minute that passed
        during the descent would have made that fireline
        even more visible… and should have produced a
        decision to retreat long before they finally got to
        the floor of the canyon.

        If the supposed ‘answer’ to that is simply ‘smoke’…

        Then how insane is that?

        That would mean they kept deciding, foot by foot,
        to keep descending into a fuel-filled box canyon
        that was now so filled with smoke it was obscuring
        even their ability to see the mouth of it… the fireline…
        OR their intended destination.

        Total insanity.

  104. Tex (Sonny) Gilligan says

    Hopefully this weekend we can sit and read and reply to this comment wall extensively. Anyone interested in investigating this out- Joy will share her private link to you so you can see 6-30-13 from the fire edge to the area as it was containable that morning. On a hike this morning I wanted to jot down my thoughts-
    Of 19 brave men dead
    very little is said
    the state doesn’t know what to do
    they lost the whole GMH crew
    (saved one)
    hearts are broken
    hard to mend
    when we know they were cast to the wind
    now they say go forward
    leave them behind
    but we who lost them
    will do nothing of the kind
    truth we want
    how can we rest in peace
    when such men would say
    their life is gone—it’s just another day
    they placed a memorial
    they laid wreaths and crosses
    while we listened to their bosses
    we saw that a veil was laid
    not over their bodies only
    but over the truth of that horrific day.
    someone knows and someone will tell it all

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Mr. Gilligan. Thank you for taking the time to comment over
        here on this thread. I don’t think any of us realized that it
        might get this lengthy ( or this comprehensive ), so the
        very size of it might be daunting… but I’m afraid that’s
        just the way it has developed. A lot of knowledgeable
        and experienced people have had a lot to say here and
        it really is worth a read.

        We are taking a ‘no detail is too small’ approach over
        here to try and figure out what really happened that day.

  105. Bob Powers says

    I was having a little trouble with your times for decent and the 21 min. video released with the investigation report. After reviewing both I found a serious point of interest. If they did not leave the 2 track or ridge line until 1620 why would they have not seen that the fire front was headed directly at them as the video shows at 1615. They dropped into a death trap box canyon.

    They were not using any of the safety rules at that point, or they would have retreated where they could have dropped off the back side of the ridge.

    They made some very major tactical errors at that point LCES, 10 and 18.

    The SAIR should have noted some major problems here. Yet again no mention of any bad decisions that caused the fatalities. I am again mystified.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Powers… this is ‘WantsToKnowTheTruth’.
      Not sure if you were addressing me or someone else,
      but I agree with you 100 percent.

      Just dropping off the western side of that ridge and
      arranging for a ‘pickup’ with Brendan and one other
      guy in the GM Crew Carriers over on Highway 89
      was ALWAYS an option. All day long. Very sparse
      vegetation on the western side. Perfectly safe.

      Somehow… this is all about some obsession to
      engage, engage, engage. Go where the action is.
      Guts and glory, yada, yada, yada.

      Also not sure what ‘video’ you are talking about that you
      are putting a time stamp of 4:15 PM on.

      The recently discovered ‘Russ Reason interview at the cafe’
      video has yet to be definitely timestamped. I still think it is
      plus or minus 10 minutes from the actual burnover… but
      it could be later. It is DEFINITELY before the ‘really bad
      news’ was circulation. Everyone in the video looks like
      they already know about ‘the deployment’… but not
      anything definite following that. All I see in the video is
      great ‘concern’… but no ‘grief’ of ‘shock’ yet.

      • Bob Powers says

        Its the 21 min. video that was run at the investigation report. Go back at the top to (previous) and go to State releases the investigation report. The one with the picture of the mountain with the yellow route the GM took, run it and go to about 9 min. or a little more and it will show the size increases at certain times thru the burn over

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          VERY good point here.
          PAGE 81 of the SAIR itself has the same
          ‘fire progression’ map with legend.

          Someone worked VERY hard on this and looks
          like they did their best to ‘get this chart right’.

          According to their own chart here… BOTH the
          1615 ( 4:15 PM ) and 16:30 ( 4:30 PM ) fireline
          locations SHOULD have been perfectly visible
          to Steed/Marsh/Crew from up on the top of
          that saddle where they decided to descend.

          Even if they were 5 minutes earlier than the
          SAIR says for the descent ( 4:15 )… they
          should have seen it out through the box canyon.

          Even if they were 5 minutes late… at 4:25 PM,
          they most CERTAINLY should have seen it.

          At 4:20 PM… the exact time the SAIR says
          they were standing up on that saddle looking
          out across that box canyon and deciding
          to descend into it… they MUST have seen
          the fireline already curling around into the
          mouth of the canyon ( according to the chart ).

          So that means this SAIR really is ‘the gift that
          just keeps on giving’ here.

          Is it possible this was really just some kind of
          ‘Jonestown’ moment with 19 guys collectively
          deciding to go out in a ‘blaze of glory’?

          If you compare the SAIR timeline with this chart,
          it’s almost hard to believe anything else but that.

          This also changes my estimates for whether
          or not they would have actually made it to the
          ranch via the ‘alternate escape route’. This
          chart on page 81 of the SAIR actually adds
          more than 5 minutes to my timeline.

          I was putting them safely inside the Boulder
          Springs Ranch with 40 seconds to spare.

          This chart on page 81 of the SAIR, if you look
          closely, means they actually might have been
          safely inside the ranch for at least 5 minutes
          and 40 seconds… and having a beer… if they
          had only gone ‘the other way’.

          • Bob Powers says

            You see why it got my attention. So this was a bad decision point. Regardless of what happened prior to it. And you can pile on the 10 and 18’s all over the place. And LCES awareness.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Have you also noticed… that even though
            the SAIR goes to great lengths with all
            this ‘What they might have known’ stuff,
            at their various ‘decision points’… they
            never once mention them looking out
            into the distance or up at the sky to
            figure out what the fire even MIGHT have
            been doing.

            Like it wasn’t even there ( the FIRE! ).
            Like they were just ‘out for a walk’ that day.

            There is NO mention of anything they
            MIGHT have seen going on out near
            the mouth of that canyon when they
            decided to drop down into it…