Chapter III for comments


Please begin a new comment section below as Chapter II is filling up. Please keep the dialogue positive and informative. I’m working on upgrading the site to handle the heavy comment load.

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


  1. sonny and joy here says

    both of us stating the investigators never mention the Helms (Boulder Springs Ranch) in the interview if they stayed behind like we have heard than not only would they know more clarity to this topic but we know for I have hiked that area for many of years and its well known they had surveillance cameras so was Marsh on the footage? Did Marsh talk to the Helms while he was there? Did the Helms warn Marsh of the maze-like terrain (SLOW GOING) and he was at the ranch than was alerted and went to assist his men than got faced with the flames yet it just does not add up because if he did make it there he had to know how difficult that terrain was to maneuver through again TIME CONSUMING as well. Did they believe those shelters would save them if they got caught in that trap? The fact is that Marsh could have gone through that brush alone much faster than probably anyone in his crew that day. Everyone has to remember we had no clue who was who and we have shared the SAME from the moment we came back even as we learned who was who and the fact is the other men were spent and the last man we stated looked ill and Norbert of Stern Magazine confirmed the last man was Donut so that compliments the very accounts we saw. We have no agenda. We are not writing books or getting the next big story or big payroll yet we do share it exactly as we seen it and correct areas over time if we see it reported or narrated differently. CLEAR THIS UP— we know
    Y O U can if you just finally share.

  2. Marti Reed says

    OK. I wasn’t gonna do it but I did. Here’s the comment I left on Wildfire Today:

    and Bill~

    I appreciate your attempt to make sense of what doesn’t make sense. We’re all trying to do that, and for the same reasons.

    But your narrative/timeline is just way off and based more on speculation than fact. And what I conceiver to be incorrect speculation at that.

    I confess, I’m part of that ASAIT crew, camped out over at JD’s site with our marshmallows and hot chocolate. We’ve been there ever since the SAIR, and some before that. We’ve picked apart, argued over, added to, subtracted from, unconnected and then re-connected dots every time something has surfaced. I play the role of the resident photographer, because I am one.

    I’m the one over there who, upon noticing Chris MacKenzie’s camera (the one used for this photograph that you are using for one of your anchors), sitting in the middle of the site as if trying to catch my attention, when it couldn’t seem to catch anybody else’s, said to myself, “I’m gonna find out what happened to that camera.” And I did. It took me a month plus of constant work thru the holidays to do it. As I did it, I took it upon myself to document how that site was investigated, what was on it, where every thing went, and only then was able to keep following the dots on the path Chris’s camera took. What I discovered was that the PFD had removed it from the site after the SAIT “investigation,” kept it out of the chain of evidence, did some tricky maneuvers to get it to Chris’s father so nobody would know about it, but Chris’s dad outsmarted them in the end. Now we are learning there are at least one, if not two, critical cellphones they probably did the same thing with. And, just today, we discovered a GPS unit that fairly cleanly survived that fire, that they probably did the same thing with, also.

    Our timelines may have some holes in them but not very many at this point. The big holes are not in the timelines.

    I was the one who posted this article over there last night, thanks to being alerted to it by Sonny. It was quite a bombshell. I was speechless. It was like fruitbasket upset.

    But as folks discussed it, trying to, as we do, fit it into our existing timelines and try to figure out what needs to be adjusted, a lot of us began coming to the same general conclusion. It can’t be done.

    We tend to pound each other over the head a bit when speculation exceeds evidence too much. It’s our informal version of peer review. And yes we do speculate. But we also do a ton of fact-finding.

    So. Point 1. Eric Marsh was NOT with the GMHS when this chapter began. From what you have “said,” it seems to me you are one of the many who has been led to believe this by the common narrative. He was a considerable distance above them. There is no evidence he was ever “with the crew” that day. At least until the very bitter end. It was not his job to be with “the crew.” He was the Div A Sup, it was his job to keep his eyes on the larger game and oversee Steed and the crew in relationship to other crews, which included the Blue Ridge Hotshots.

    He had called BR Sup Brian Frisbee over for a “meeting” at the anchor point, which was well above where the crew was when this photo was taken. Frisbee, while on his way east to west to meet with Marsh, noticed the fire picking up speed towards them, GM Lookout McDonough with the fire coming down on him, and so grabbed McDonough and got him on the ATV, turned around and headed back to the east. Marsh was still up there when all that happened. He wasn’t with the GM Hotshots.

    Point 3. Meanwhile, I don’t know what you mean by a handline, but the crew in this photo was not all that close to where they had been working. They were below it. They were taking a break while Eric and others were having a radio conversation about their “options.”

    Point 4. About the sawyers Chris photographed. Before this photo, he had shot this very same Andrew Ashcraft comfortably sitting on a rock down below him, shooting with his cellphone, and sending one of those photos to his wife. Andrew, as far as I know, wasn’t even participating in this conversation. Seventeen seconds later Chris shoots him walking away from this rock with his saw. That’s before even Chris heard–and then decided it was important enough to take the videos he did–Eric, somebody else, and Steed discussing their options. And that’s it. That’s all there is of Andrew and the other sawyer walking. Who can say, from this single still photo, where they were walking, and why they were walking? And what they were thinking, much less planning to do, before or while they were walking. Maybe they were heading out a little tiny bit earlier than the rest of the crew. But maybe they weren’t. Maybe doesn’t make the anchor point of a whole theory such as you are proposing. There is nothing to anchor the theory you are proposing vis a vis the sawyers.

    Point 5. Given that Marsh was a significant distance above the crew, I can’t imagine a way he could have, short of Batman powers, made it down past his crew, down to the saddle, and then down through the brush filled bowl, to the Boulder Ranch by the time you are stating he was there. We have played these timelines out over and over again, argued them thoroughly, and always ended up with him being behind the crew, above the crew, until a bit after he stepped over the rim of the bowl, after having seen them in it.

    Point 6. Ok, let’s assume Eric had those Batman powers. There’s still no evidence he ever connected up with those sawyers. But let’s say somehow he did got down to the ranch by then. Let’s say he was there at the time you say he had that conversation about being at the “house”–which I agree with others I will only believe it when I hear it and I doubt that was what he was saying. (We’ve had endless arguments about exactly what is being said in these often noisy videos of radio calls).

    But anyway. Let’s say he was there. Saying that that was where he was. At that time the winds were shifting further to the NE, causing the fire to press further to the southwest. That was EXACTLY the time the fire was driving right around the bottom of the ridge at the mouth of the canyon, and thus beginning to chimney right up into it. That’s EACTLY what was going on then.

    There is no conceivable way I can possibly imagine Eric Marsh, at this point (and yes I agree he made his share of mistakes this day, but NONE of us knows what he decided, or why he decided that; all we know is the consequences) doing ANYTHING but radio-ing the GMHS and telling them to drop EVERYTHING and run, down the bowl ASAP and also stick to the south side of the canyon because the north side is going to get burned faster. Because that was exactly what he would have been seeing at that time.

    There’s no way in the Universe he would have, pack and stuff on his back and all, thought “OK. I guess I’ll take a quick hike up there just to die with the rest of my sons, the heroic Granite Mountain Hotshots.” Because if he was down there where you are asserting he was, he would have seen the proof that that was what was going to happen if they didn’t get out of there really fast.

    And, I add, if he had time to slog up there with his pack, they certainly would have had time to run down without them.


    • Marti Reed says

      And thanks to all of you, for writing about this today, so I could think it through and then write it. I hope they get it.

    • Bob Powers says

      Thanks to you Marti you put it together well. I hope you posted the same on wildfire today Ill jump over and check.

  3. Bob Powers says

    WTKTT— if you noticed over on the wildfire today threat Holly is saying the crew took 10 min to the saddle drop off into the bowl and they were there at 1602 when the crew was actually at the lunch spot and had not moved yet.
    Some bodies on the wrong time frame and I don’t think its us.

    • Marti Reed says

      IT AIN’T SO!!!
      Hollie’s basing that whole timeline on that ONE STILL PHOTO of Ashcraft et al walking away from the rocks down below the crew, after they had been sitting on those rocks while he took a picture. And this is BEFORE Chris’s video. So yeah, I can imagine maybe kinda they might have headed out a little earlier than anybody else. Maybe. But there’s absolutely no PROOF that they did. And no proof whatsoever that they did what she’s insisting they did after that.

      And I believe we’re right on here to be pretty much insisting that Eric was a ways above the crew to meet Frisbee, and there’s NO WAY he could’ve gotten to the ranch-house when she’s insisting he did, and even if he had, he wouldn’t have been turning to go back up there when he would have been SEEING the fire wrap around the bottom of the ridge.

      Keep up the good fight. I have no time to go over there except just to read. Which I will.

      I think she’s gonna regret having thrown this together.

      OK, so now where were we???

      • Bob Powers says

        Now they released a statement on wildfire today that they had the radio message fine tuned and that is what marsh said and they had others listen to it before they released there statement. so has any body found and listened to this clear audio from marsh? I have not found it yet.

        • Bob Powers says

          WTKTT—They have pictures that bill has in a statement of his listing the Prescott Dailey.
          #0887 they say is at 1552 and yet 0889 at 1602 is the same fire spread and smoke there is not a 10 min. change in the fire from those pictures and I think the Sawyers are just moving up to the rest of the crew where Mckinezy takes the next two pictures at 1602. These are the same pictures we have time frames on that you listed some days ago. That’s what they are basing the 1552 sawyers movement on.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            I think one of the fundamental ‘wrong’
            assumptions that Hollie/Maclean are making
            is that they are simply trusting what the
            SAIR said about that ‘lunch spot’. They
            are taking that for gospel, or something, and
            that ALL of these photos that have surfaced
            were simply taken from the SAME spot.

            So when they see the ‘sawyers’ moving
            out the only conclusion that comes to
            mind (for them) is that they were now
            ‘leaving the others’ and headed south
            to go vertical cut some canyon.

            There were TWO ‘movements’ that
            afternoon between 3:50 and 4:05.

            They were taking photos at TWO
            different locations. We crossed that bridge
            over here on this thread about 2 months ago.

            The ‘moving out’ photos from 3:50 are
            simply everyone moving ‘down’ and
            ‘south’ a little to the NEXT resting spot
            where the MacKenzie videos will be
            taken and we hear them ‘discussing their
            options’ some more. It’s NOT the same
            spot where the 3:50 photos/videos were
            taken… and neither spot is ‘the lunch spot’.

            There WAS a lunch spot. Tex Gilligan has
            even found some of the ‘garbage’ they
            left there. That ‘lunch spot’ is, in fact, close
            to where the SAIR had it marked.

            But that ‘lunch spot’ is NOT the place
            where either the 3:50 photos/videos or
            the 4:02 photos/videos were taken.

            There are really TWO ‘new’ claims being
            made here.

            1) Eric Marsh must have been at the ranch
            ahead of everyone because they believe
            they hear the word ‘house’ in a background
            radio communication. Maybe. Maybe not.

            2) A bunch of the ‘sawyers’ left the ‘lunch
            spot’ to go take care of some business
            ahead of the crew because there are simply
            one or two photos taken at 3:50 which
            shows them slinging their saws and leaving
            the (supposed) ‘lunch spot’… so they must
            have been ‘leaving the others’ at that time
            and heading to the ranch ahead of them.
            Maybe. Maybe not.

            Believing assumption (1) makes it easier
            to then believe assumption (2)… but I don’t
            think the full evidence is going to support
            either one in the end… no matter what
            anyone *thinks* they are hearing Marsh
            say in the background of some video.

            By the way… am I the only one catching
            the ‘Die Hard’ connection/reference here
            when it comes to Maclean/Hollie?

  4. Marti Reed says

    It doesn’t take me five minutes to re-load the page. But the scrolling and typing are awful. I think we’re reluctant (I know I am) to leave old comments too far behind. Given how much everything can change in a day.

    Anyway. Re the SAWYER in the VIDEO and ANDREW ASHCRAFT

    I just finally downloaded Chris’s cellphone pix. And looked at them sequenced with his camera pix.

    Ashcraft, when he is taking that cellphone pic, is sitting on a red-coated rock (we know what that means) with another guy, much lower down than the rest of the crew. Chris is shooting him from back up at the top with the rest of the crew. He’s shooting at 80 mm. That’s a medium zoom and a quite different from the 35mm cellphone focal length he’s using for the others, mostly, I think.

    You can’t see them down there from Chris’s cellphone photos. But in the first one, I think, of this collection, you can see a batch of red coated rocks way down below. Where they’re sitting and walking out of are some big unburned shrubs. It almost looks like another place. Because it actually is.

    There’s just no way Ashcraft et al are in the photos/video of the crew at the top. And since there’s another guy with them I think there are three down there where Ashcraft is. Two sawyers and a “swamper”?

    That’s what I think. I would think they would put their fastest sawyers on this little project. Which is why I think the other sawyer exiting with him is Travis Carter, the Lead Saw Crew Boss. But maybe that’s just total speculation. But at least it’s based on what I’m looking at.

    BTW I think Chris’s camera’s timestamping is pretty accurate after all. I think the reason for the perceived confusion is because the different ways he is photographing this. His cellphone pix are geotagged. No canon powershot can do that. I think the reason he he would use his cellphone at points and not just the canon was mostly for that reason. Otherwise there would be no point that I can think of to go thru the hassle of switching back and forth. I would have just stayed with the camera (better quality pictures and zoom), unless I wanted to get some geotagging in the mix. Which is exactly why I need to get a smartphone, which I don’t have.

    • Marti Reed says

      And another by the way.

      The file numbers on Chris’s cellphone are rather wacky. I don’t know why. I I don’t know how this stuff works. You can’t order them by filenumber and have them make any sense. You have to order them by capture time. Then everything falls into place pretty nice and neat, including with the camera pix, I think.

  5. Bob Powers says

    Back to time frames we have been working with WTKTT.
    Marsh was waiting to meet Frisby above the old cat when he picked up McDonough. That time was around 1535 ?
    How was he able to get past the crew from where he was and down to the ranch in that time frame?
    We know he was to meet Frisby where they meet earlier.
    That is why we all felt he was behind the crew in the first place and would make the new location impossible. Frisby came up the same way and picked up McDonough. Relook at the times and I think Marsh could not have possibly made that move in the time frame that is now being shown.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      No… it’s really not possible… unless a WHOLE lot of other
      things already testified to are now wrong.

      ALL the official documents ( SAIR, ADOSH, WFAR, YIN notes )
      pretty much agree on the story we have been asked to believe
      which is…

      At 1550… Brian Frisby was on his way out west for this
      ‘face-to-face’ that Marsh had just requested all the way out
      at the anchor spot… where he and Frisby met before
      around NOON.

      It was only then that Frisby ‘accidentally’ came across Brendan
      evacuating his lookout spot and standing near the old-grader.

      Frisby can now see for himself how close the fire is out there
      to that old-grader… and moving SOUTH pretty fast.

      Frisby decides the only safe thing to do is abandon any plans
      to keep heading west for that ‘face-to-face’ and he loads
      Brendan into the ATV and heads back east the way he came.

      Frisby drops Brendan off back where the GM vehicles were
      parked just around 1555.

      The only real ‘wrench in the works’ with that story is that ADOSH
      published photos taken by Brendan back at the GM vehicles
      that had time stamps of 1549 on them. That pushes all the
      ‘official’ timelines off by 5 minutes.

      That still isn’t resolved… but regardless… that means that
      Marsh was, in fact, EXPECTING Frisby to show up for this
      face-to-face he asked for at the anchor spot… and that means
      he would have been right up there on the ridge as late as 1550
      just waiting for him to arrive until he heard that Frisby had picked
      up Brendan and was evacuating him and wouldn’t be coming up
      for that meeting.

      So now we are at 1550… Marsh is still up near the anchor point
      where he was definitely expecting Frisby to show up…
      …and here comes the known 1550 Caldwell video capturing this…

      Eric Marsh (DIVS A): Yea… I’m tryin’ to work my way off the top.

      Todd Abel ( OPS1 ): Okay… I copy… ah… just keep me updated…
      ah… ya know… you guys hunker and be safe and then… ah…
      we’ll get some air support down there ASAP.

      Is it possible that Marsh’s ‘work my way off the top’ could now
      mean he was ‘coming all the way down’?

      Perhaps… but I don’t believe that.

      I still think Marsh’s “workin’ my way off the top” still meant
      exactly what he said. He was simply working his way back
      south off the TOP of the Weaver Mountains where he had
      been scouting all day and back towards the anchor point.

      Now here come the 1602 ‘discussing their options’ and
      ‘comfort level’ discussions. Why would Marsh be asking
      Steed about his ‘comfort level’ if he had already decided
      they were all going to leave the black fer sure and he was
      now way south and ‘scouting the escape route’ himself?

      So even if that is what happened ( Marsh went south to
      scout the escape route either alone or with sawyers )
      I don’t think that could have happened until AFTER the
      MacKenzie videos and the ‘discussing their options’ stuff.

      But now we are only 3 minutes away from the entire crew
      ‘gaggling up’ ( at 1605 ), leaving the spot where Christopher
      shot his videos, and heading south, anyway.

      So even in the new scenario… that means Marsh would have
      had only been just a few minutes ‘ahead’ of them… not
      a half hour. No way.

      So something is just not right about a new scenario where
      Marsh is somehow already all the way at the Boulder Springs
      Ranch when that “I’m at the house” transmission is (supposedly)

      Which… by the way… is still not definite.
      We still don’t know exactly WHEN Marsh is supposed to
      have said “I’m at the house where we’re going to jump out”.

      More to come on this… I’m sure.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        By the way… if ANY of this ‘new scenario’ is true…

        Then both Darrell Willis and Brendan McDonough can
        still probably tell us all about it.

  6. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Reply to Marti Reed post on January 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

    >> Marti said…
    >> I “identified” Radio 13 as being Caldwell’s radio, because the closest body
    >> (I think) is Caldwell’s. It’s in a pile of stuff I think might be a pack. It’s on
    >> the “outside” of the Deployment area.

    Thanks Marti.

    I think I see the Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit there in that photo now.

    In fact… I’m pretty sure about it.

    I’m talking about photo 50 ( or 109 photos ) in this folder…

    Just to the right of the radio is what looks to be a ‘ball’ of fiberglass wadding
    or something ( shelter remnants, perhaps ).

    Look STRAIGHT UP from that ‘ball of wadding’.

    There is some kind of electronic device sort of ‘buried in the dirt’ right there.

    It looks VERY much like the BACK of Caldwell’s Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit.
    It has the right color and the right sort of ‘curves’ to it including the slight ‘bulbous’
    shape that would be seen on the top-back of an Oregon 450.

    It looks to be in pretty good shape. Not burned at all… just BURIED in the dirt.

    If that is NOT the Oregon 450 GPS unit… then it certainly is the back of SOME
    kind of handheld electronic device and it’s not a radio and it’s not a smartphone.

    So it looks like the ‘story’ on Caldwell’s Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit is going
    to be just like Christopher MacKenzie’s camera.

    It was THERE ( We can SEE it was there ), just lying on the ground, pretty
    much undamaged… but it (apparently) never made it into the real
    ‘chain of evidence’.

    Once again… It’s going to be all about what the Prescott Fire Department
    did or didn’t do with these things that THEY removed from the site.

    • Marti Reed says

      Awesome! I knew you would figure that out.

      I remember looking at that thing, thinking, “Ummmm, that’s a THING!!!!”

      But I didn’t know what it was, and I had kinda decided to to try to write up all the gazillions of things I had found that I didn’t know what they were. I was sick of crawling around on the deployment site.

      But, yeah. There’s no doubt in my mind the PFD has found some very “useful” stuff amidst that haul they took in that evening after the SAIT visit.

    • Sitta says

      Hmm… if you check out photo 049 (previous one), you can see a couple carabiners in the lower right corner. I think the GPS unit might be down there. In MacKenzie’s IMG_0876 photo, you can see it hanging by a carabiner, and it is pretty small. I think the two grey objects above and to the right of the radio in photos 049 and 050 are actually partially melted water bottles. I could be wrong; this is just my interpretation. But I still think that a carabiner is likely to lead us to the GPS unit.

  7. Bob Powers says

    You need to check the changes in the story now happening in the Wildfire today article. Now she never said the chain saw crew ever got to the ranch but somehow Marsh did and then rejoined the crew in a 40 min. time frame. Not possible, not possible. They are reading something into the radio traffic that is not there. We already know that after the burn someone ran from the top to the Ranch with no brush and took 22 min.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Bob Powers post on January 20, 2014 at 11:44 am

      >> Mr. Powers wrote…
      >> They are reading something into the radio traffic
      >> that is not there.

      I believe that might turn out to be the case.

      If this entire ‘new’ theory hinges on someone thinking they hear
      the single word ‘house’ in a background radio transmission
      accidentally captured in a video shot in a noisy, flying airplane…

      …then they better be pretty certain about that one single word.

      I still would tend to believe that Marsh MAY have been ‘ahead’
      of the crew circa 4:20, instead of lagging way behind… but
      I would also be more likely to believe he said ‘jump off’ spot
      instead of ‘jump out’ and he may have simply been standing
      at the spot where they were going to ‘jump off the two-track’
      when that transmission happened. Ahead of the crew, maybe,
      but not all the way at the frickin’ ranch.

      We still haven’t seen any of the security camera videos shot
      at the perimeter of the Boulder Springs Ranch. I would think,
      if Marsh ever made it anywhere near there… he would be seen
      in one of those videos.

      I hope everyone ( Mr. Maclean and Wildfire today as well )
      realizes this is NOT a ‘contest’.

      At all times… we need to try our best to ‘get this right’.
      Theories ( backed by some possible evidence ) are
      ALWAYS welcome… but be prepared for revisions.

      I have always been ready to put forth ideas that I think are
      based on evidence I’m seeing… but ( even despite what
      some detractors of mine have said )… I am ALWAYS
      ready to be DEAD WRONG.

      That’s how this sort of thing goes.
      One step at a time… and sometimes that step is ‘backwards’.

  8. Bob Powers says

    While I respect John Maclean do not take every thing he says as fact.
    Reference– The Rattle Snake Fire My father died on his best friend and Bob Werner who became my step father. 50 years later my step dad told John that he was on the engine that was at the spot fire and had a hose line to the crew. he went for water and got back in time to try and help the crew out of the brush and managed to get 9 up the hose lay. John did not believe him and did not put that in his book. My step dad told John where to put it. My dad had 35 years in the FS and retired in 1981 he blamed himself for my dad and the other 14 who died had he been on the hose lay they would have all got out.
    Another Fire The Saddler Fire 1999. Some friends of mine took blame that was not theirs that john inserted into the book. So I reserve judgment on this new info.

    • mike says

      If Marsh was at the ranch, would he have not had “eyes” on the fire and been able to warn the crew? He would have passed through the mouth of the canyon and presumably would have seen that the direction and speed had changed. For those here who have seen the site, is this correct or not? So if in fact he was acting as a scout and a lookout, why no warning? I too am skeptical that this information is what it purports to be. It is such a dramatic change in the facts that Mr. MacLean better be right.

      Holly Neill is posting comments at Wildfire Today, so maybe there will be some clarifications and further evidence there.

      Finally, it is starting to take about 5 minutes to load this thread. Why do we not move it over to the most recent posting that JD just put up?

      • Marti Reed says

        What you wrote is pretty much exactly what I wrote just up above. Absolutely.

        Like I wrote, my pages don’t take that long to load, but typing really AWFUL.

        I think you’re right. Time to get out of the mud.

  9. Bob Powers says

    If Marsh took Sawyers clear to ranch I would dought they would run clear back to the crew impossible with saws and packs 600 Yds.
    Also if they had cut a route the crew should have been able to double time down it to the ranch. I do not believe if they decided to go that way at 1555
    they could have done much trail work off the hill. My bet jump off spot not house which means he was at the saddle ready to drop into the canyon. as thick as the brush was the crew with the other chain saws would have caught up to them and would account for saws running at first transmission of the flaming front. Also again we have radio communications during the no communications time but what freq. were they on Air or Div. Some body knew exactly where they were. I still dought they got to ranch and came back. If they had Marsh would have had eyes on the fire and been pushing the crew to double time it out. Where the hell was the SAIT on this.

    • NV says

      At a more basic level, that type of brush is hard to clear. Just as I believe they are much more likely than not to have used their phones to pull up maps, and simply ignored them by deciding to drop into the bowl, the idea that they thought they’d simply do a little quick pruning for an easy hike down to the ranch is difficult to swallow. But, entirely possible. Obviously they were trying to clear and burn out their deployment site when, likewise, even a bulldozer wouldn’t have had time to do so. So, at deployment, when they should have been running one way or the other since deployment was clearly not survivable and there was no time to improve their site, they were focused on cutting and deploying.

      So, given their known decisions, it is very possible they also thought they could cut a clear path down quickly, or that cutting was simply the thing “to do,” just like deploying seems to have been viewed without assessing it. It runs counter to what their past experience had to have told them about that type of brush, of course. Along with all the past bad decisions and risk-taking that’s already been discussed, I wonder (purely speculatively, I have heard nothing from anyone as to this question) if they’d in the past headed down a drainage that was fairly open in the wash itself, with fewer and more mature trees so that they tended to think that was a good bet in a similar area? (It’s not, as those kinds of washes can vary from open to wicked.)

    • Marti Reed says

      My first thoughts as I read that and some of the earlier comments, and tried to wrap my brain around it was no way!

      If Marsh had been at the bottom at that time, at the ranch, he would have seen what they all MISSED.
      The wind shift, the fire wrapping around the bottom of the ridge and setting up to blow up the chimney. He would have COMMANDED them to get their butts down (RUN!!!) ASAP and, oh by the way stay on the south side cuz it’s gonna burn the north side first. Which is exactly what it did. Or am I missing something?

      • The Girl Who Got An Email To Check Here Today says

        guess who? Joy. the part I do not understand as much as I want to believe in my own ideas and thoughts that Marsh was way ahead of the men and that he always had his eyes on the fire and he never led 18 men to their deaths and in what I read from Holly and John last night—I trust if they heard something I cannot yet hear that they would not publicly write or share about something because they base sharing with facts to back it up so Sonny would like to see the photos of the stubs from the sawyers because OSHA scouted it pretty well when we were there and we just hope they have source/documents to make and sense there. Than there is the TIME STAMP. You all here have done an excellent job dissecting it but I just cannot imagine Eric Marsh that GOOD to get from the fire edge to the ranch in what was it Bob Powers- 40 minutes? no, I have hiked the area too long and YES Marsh was stamina and speed but how did the sawyers enter the scenario—how did they come to that conclusion? Just their hunch like we all have expressed our hunches over time? I say EXCELLENT to the video but Elizabeth did it say all that or is Bob Powers right in the questions he asks? We have offered you all purity and if we ever go off on to personal perception- we let you know but you have seen documents from us and videos and now the first photo that actually has accurate time stamp near the fire edge at 9:40am. I wish John M. answers your question even if it was an old one Bob Powers of why your family member was never entered into the book. We have walked with so many authors and a lot thank us for the hiking tour guide moment yet we do not expect nor desire to be in books unless it is to document only things they can factually state—no more bullsh** like S. McKinnon did at the azcentral narrating and saying we will get back to you on the retraction to weeks later pass by and nothing. Really does not matter what he wrote because the TRUTH is the TRUTH and I just figured he wrote true stories not a collaboration of the stories and narrate about us that was not what we even shared like we left from Yarnell not Congress. I hope to hear more unravel from this recent story. I really will read the comment wall and than log out. Thank you for asking me to visit and view-

  10. Marti Reed says

    I’m kinda sorta thinking the videos being referenced may be on their way to JD’s dropbox and into the folder called:

    “A05-Aerial Firefighting Study Photos and Videos: Pending”

    • Elizabeth says

      Yes, Marti. They are the videos I referenced back on January 12th – a full week ago. If WTKTT wants to e-mail me directly, I can help him get the videos, so that he or someone can post them. I have 30 or so videos already posted, but the air-to-air ones are too big. My impression is the John Dougherty might be having the same issue, because he asked me for my copy of the Blue Ridge GPS video, which WTKTT had down-sized me. I believe that John Doughtery ultimately posted my copy, because the original copy from the FOIA was too large to post.

          • Marti Reed says

            Weirdest thing. In that same email, he thought I was you.

            So I told him I was not, and gave him your email address.

            I think he was confused by something. Of course I have no idea how that feels ever. I just can’t imagine. If you want me to forward that email to you I will.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Elizabeth… what FORMAT are these air-videos in?

        Are they in AVI format like the Blue Ridge
        tracking thing was?

        Just look at the last few letters of the filename(s)
        following the ‘period’.

        That tells you what FORMAT the thing is in…

        Examples… = An Apple Quicktime video file
        something.avi = An AVI video file
        something.mp4 = An MP4 video file
        something.pdf = An Adobe PDF document

        AVI files can be reduced by 80 to 90 percent with
        NO loss of any video or audio quality.

        If the files are too big to upload to that dropbox I gave
        you for converting the Blue Ridge Tracking video
        then email isn’t going to work.

      • Elizabeth says

        Actually, I want to correct myself – those are NOT the videos that I think Holly is referencing. I asked John Maclean to share with us the labels on the videos, so that I can point you to the right ones in either my dump or JD’s, but I have not heard back from Maclean on that. In his defense, I suppose selling books is easier if you have information in them that you did not share prior, so I’m not sure whether he will want to share it. But I asked, at least.

  11. NV says

    Regarding the Wildfiretoday piece covering Holly Neil and John Maclean’s new reporting, the team of sawyers heading down first to use “vertical cut and slash” to improve the “escape route” is another WTF moment.

  12. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to calvin post on January 19, 2014 at 10:38 am

    >> calvin said…
    >> WTKTT…. Does that mean image 2733 (p23 SAIR) is also taken
    >> at 1550 as the SAIR says?

    Yes. It ( finally ) does.

    The story on that (pesky) P23 photo now is that it was NEVER actually the
    missing sequential MacKenzie Canon Powershot image IMG_0888 as I had
    originally thought it might be. It simply wasn’t until the SAIT FOIA stuff started
    appearing that we learned how the Canon Powershot was simply continuing
    its sequential numbering for BOTH still photos AND movies.

    So IMG_0888 was never really ‘missing’ at all from the original ‘MacKenzie’
    photos published by Prescott Courier and AZREPUBLIC. They just failed to
    mention what the reality of the ‘movie’ file naming was.

    So that mystery is OVER.

    The photo on P23 of the SAIR is from Christopher’s smartphone ( which
    we also didn’t know about ) and it is, in fact, hard-time stamped at 3:50.

    So the SAIR caption and time of 3:50 on that photo on page 23 is CORRECT.
    Nobody ‘dialed back’ the time on it. That’s exactly when Christopher took it.

    >> calvin also wrote…
    >> IF that is the case, image 0885, 0886 and 0887 from Mackenzie
    >> camera do not fit in with the times. Remember this ongoing discussion?

    Yep. Sure do.
    Looking at that now ( since we can FINALLY see/analyze Christopher’s
    smartphone photos ).

    More on that later… I just didn’t want you to think I missed your post.


    KUDOS again on ‘seeing’ Robert Caldwell’s Garmin GPS unit on his shoulder.

    Funny how you can stare and stare at something… and suddenly find
    something in a photo you’ve never seen before. Diligence counts!

    Discovering Caldwell’s Garmin GPS unit, even at this point, is a BIG DEAL.

    I checked ALL the deployment site photos that have been made public and it
    doesn’t appear to be just ‘lying on the ground’ anywhere like Christopher’s
    Canon Powershot clearly was.

    It was either actually picked up by the YCSO detectives when they arrived at
    sunrise the next morning ( but never, ever mentioned by them or entered into
    evidence? )… OR… it was GONE by the time the YCSO police ever even
    got there.

    I don’t know which of those two scenarios is more disturbing.

    It was attached directly ( and firmly ) to Robert’s right pack strap.
    If he had to drop his pack and deploy as fast as I think he did…
    then it would have still been right there wherever he dropped his pack.
    It is not possible for it to have ‘disintegrated’.

    Is it possible that Caldwell never got his pack fully off… and the straps
    ( and what was attached to them like the GPS unit? ) just went into
    the shelter with him… which would then mean the GPS unit travelled
    in his body bag along with him to the Medical Examiner’s office because
    it was still ( somehow ) ATTACHED to him?

    I don’t know.

    All I know is that you really could not ‘miss’ this thing.
    SOMEONE saw it… and knows what happened to it.

    • Marti Reed says

      I “identified” Radio 13 as being Caldwell’s radio, because the closest body (I think) is Caldwell’s. It’s in a pile of stuff I think might be a pack. It’s on the “outside” of the Deployment area.

      And now I’m going back to bed. I woke up way too early, kept trying to figure out Joy’s Mystery Man, but still can’t do it without something to sync the photos to in more real time. Which I still don’t have.

      It’s to hard to see, and there’s no “photo enhancement software” out there that will remove the pixelation without removing detail, that I know of.

      What I noticed though, is there’s no red helmet there, that I can see. And I think I should be able to see it. The light’s clear.

      So I started thinking maybe it’s two GMHSs up there, doing something in relationship to the helicopter, which comes in an hour later, and picks up stuff from the upper peak of that ridge to the right. But the photo of the crew “walking in” is two hours and fifteen minutes later. So I still don’t get it.

      By the way it’s file number 134.

        • Marti Reed says

          Thx. That’s what I was thinking but I didn’t know enough about this particular piece of the operations to say that.

          Also it looks like they have back-packs on. Does Helitack wear backpacks?

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Marti… thanks for the picture reference.

        I believe I just found Caldwell’s Garmin Oregon 450 GPS
        unit right there in that photo… just buried in the dirt
        up near the top of the photo.

        See longer post ( and details ) just below.

  13. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Bob Powers post on January 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    >> Mr. Powers said…
    >> I would say the (cell) number shown for Eric ( on the public NIHC site )
    >> is a PFD assigned cell phone since it is public.

    I would tend to agree. I can’t really imagine Eric Marsh allowing his own
    personal cell phone number to be published PUBLICLY in multiple places
    at the NIHC websites.

    There is, in fact a PUBLIC website that allows you to do ‘reverse-lookups’
    on cell-phone numbers. It is provided by a PUBLIC company called
    ‘PrivacyStar’ that makes spam-blocker software for cell phones.

    Here is the exact link for the PUBLIC PrivacyStar page that does a
    ‘reverse lookup’ on Eric Marsh’s published cell phone number…

    Clicking on “Owner’s Name” on that PUBLIC results page
    only produces the following…

    Name: Cell Phone PRESCOTT, AZ (No name associated)
    Total Block Count by Privacy Star App Users: 0
    Total Complaint Count by Privacy Star App Users: 0

    All that means is that it is, in fact, a cell phone registered to someone
    in Prescott, Arizona, with no specific NAME being reported by the
    carrier, and that PrivacyStar users have registered no ‘spam’
    complaints or ‘block this number’ requests against this cell number.

    So that doesn’t mean it isn’t just a PFD registered ‘generic’ number,
    but it doesn’t mean it isn’t either.

    It it really was just Eric’s personal phone… the odds are actually high that
    the PrivacyStar site that it WOULD have listed his name in those
    search results. The fact that it didn’t would tend to be more proof
    ( in my opinion ) that this number really is just registered as a ‘generic’
    number and is paid for by the Prescott Fire Department.

    More to come on this…

  14. Marti Reed says

    “The radio communications, although muffled and difficult to make out, can be heard in the background on several audio/video recordings of pilot radio transmissions during the fire – radio communications that were publicly released in December by the Arizona State Forestry Division.”

    Where are these “several audio/video recordings of pilot radio transmissions…”

    I haven’t seen them. Mr. Dougherty. do you have them?

    This is absolutely stunning.

    I’ve been somewhat in shock before this, while working on this. But right now I think I’m REALLY in shock.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Marti… Elizabeth reported hearing these kinds of things in the
      background of those ‘videos’ that the airplane guys were
      apparently filming that afternoon for their own purposes. They
      were doing their own ‘study of retardant drops’, or something.
      Elizabeth reported hearing this ‘Musser calling Marsh’ transmission
      on those air tapes.

      I don’t know if these ‘air tapes’ have ever been posted publicly.
      I imagine they will be… if they really do contain captured radio
      transmissions as important as the ones being reported.

      The scenario being described now almost raises MORE
      questions than it answers.

      Example: If Marsh ( and some sawyers ) were really all the
      way at the ranch… and THEY had time to run due west to
      Steed and the crew ( and end up dying with them )…

      …then that automatically means Steed and the crew had the
      same amount of time to just run due EAST and get safely
      to the ranch. End of story. No one dies that day.

      • mike says

        If Marsh was at the Boulder Springs Ranch and had been enroute since 3:52 where was the Marsh – Frisby face-to-face supposed to take place at?

        Also what does Marsh by “where we are going to jump out at”? Like he’s going to surprise the rest of the crew?

        I do have to say I looked at the photo from 3:52 in the Courier and it certainly does look like a couple of sawyers are heading down. You could say they were arriving, but it looks like they were continuing to go down.

        If this is in fact true, someone knew this and did not tell the SAIT (why – seems unlikely) or the SAIT just deliberately chose to rewrite history, or more bluntly, they lied. I suppose they might have missed these conversations on the recordings they had, but the person on the other end of them knew what was said.

        Would be nice to hear these recordings to see if what is reported seems correct. But to be honest, after the “move faster” video was found, the SAIR became essentially nonoperative. After all, someone knew about that too and either failed to disclose it or the SAIT buried it.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Yes, mike… lots of ‘new’ questions to answer about
          what is being reported by Wildfire today.
          You just hit on a few important ones that would
          ‘not support’ their story.

          It’s also a fact that some of those ‘sawyers’ seen
          ‘moving out’ from the 3:52 location are ALSO
          seen again just resting in the 4:02 MacKenzie
          video. They didn’t go far.

          Example: Ashcraft is seen with his saw ‘slung’
          for hike in one of the 3:52 photos… but there he
          is right there with his saw ‘unslung’ again at
          4:02… just to the right of Steed in the first
          MacKenzie video. Ashcraft is the one leaning on
          his saw who laughs in agreement at the sarcastic
          remark made by ( Misner? ) right after Eric says
          “I could just feel it… ya know”.

          It seems the ‘key’ to the whole ‘new scenario’ of
          Marsh having ‘scouted ahead’ all the way to
          the Boulder Springs Ranch is just based on
          someone ( Maclean? Holly? ) thinking they hear
          Marsh say…

          ” Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna
          jump out at.”

          Well… what if what he really said was more like…

          “Nah I’m here at the PLACE where we gonna
          jump OFF at”.

          Maybe Marsh was really ‘ahead’ of them.
          All we know so far ( MacKenzie videos ) is
          that he was not WITH them.

          What if Marsh simply went on ahead down
          the two-track… and he was simply now standing
          at the spot where they were going to ‘jump off
          the two-track’ and drop into the canyon?

          That changes the thinking about whether Marsh
          was ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ them prior to 4:20… but
          it doesn’t put him all the way at the ranch where
          he ( and some sawyers? ) would have had to
          run BACK west over 630 yards in 120 seconds
          just to die with them.

          So it all comes down to what someone thinks they
          are hearing on those air-tapes.

          Hopefully… those will be publicly available soon.

          • mike says

            Are you sure that is Ashcraft in the video? I do not see him with a saw, the one next to him has one. In the 3:52 photo, Ashcraft is not wearing gloves and has glasses on – neither is true for the one in question. Obviously either of those things could be changed in an instant. When looking for Ashcraft, I usually look for tattoos and teeth. Cannot see whether there are tattoos or not, the teeth are there though.

            Before he wrote books, John MacLean was a reporter. Reporters live and die by getting their facts right. If he reported what is heard, it really should be (better be) correct. To get this wrong would be a very big miss for him. The article in Wildfire Today does not say this is what it sounds like – the conversation is in quotes with no caution offered on whether it is accurate or not.

          • Marti Reed says

            I don’t think I see Ashcraft in that video (but get REALLY confused about id-ing them.

            What I’m seeing is a guy standing up, leaning on the saw’s sheath, and then as he leans over to spit, you can see the saw sheath lean over a bit with him.

            Is that who we’re talking about?

            I’ve been on again off again trying to figure out who the sawyers are for awhile. Two of them are photographically distinctive.

            Dustan Deford, obviously with his big read beard.

            Andrew Ashcroft, not only by his tattoos, but also that white bracelet on his left wrist. That white bracelet has its own story. I can’t remember what they wrote on them, but Andrew and his wife gave them to each other. She complained that he never wore his. So that morning, she was surprised to see that he had taken it and apparently wore it to the fire.

            She figured she’d never see it again. So she was quite surprised when it was returned to her. She saw it as a sign that he was watching over her. That was a VERY BIG DEAL for her.

            The two other sawyers, who are really hard to tell apart, are Travis Carter, 31, the Lead Saw Boss, and Travis Turbeyfill, 27. They look a lot alike, especially in these fire photos where everybody kinda looks alike under their helmets and with soot all over their faces. In regular photos Turbeyfill looks kinda almost like a ten years younger Carter. Plus, Carter is kinda bald, but you never see that with his helmet on.

            So looking at that video, I really can’t tell if that’s Carter or Turbeyfill, but it’s obviously not Ashcraft or Deford (who obviously is in the video).

            And I don’t see Ashcraft at all, but then I just may not know how to see him in this video.

            In the photo of Aschcraft walking with his saw, the other either Carter/Turbyfill is the one walking beside him. I just really can’t tell. Because they look so much alike in photos. Especially with helmets and soot and dirt.

            So we’d need an id from David or somebody that knew them, imo.

            So here’s a logic/protocol/culture try. If, in fact, those two were leaving (and Ashcraft isn’t in the video) would it make sense that the one leaving would be Carter the Lead Saw Boss, or the not Lead Saw Boss Turbeyfill.

            Which would be most likely to stay with Deford and the rest of the crew, or head out with Ashcraft to cut a trail thru the brush? Any thoughts?

            • Marti Reed says

              Actually, after writing all that, and going to look at some more photos (I keep telling myself I’m DONE DIGGING), including one with a saw, I’m thinking it looks more like the ones I’ve just seen of Clayton Witted. The beard. And the long nose and more angular face.

              So if that’s the case, the one walking out with Ashcraft is still either Carter or Turbyfill. So the question still applies. So it looks like we’ve got four saws and five sawyers.

              Any more “seasoned” tips, thoughts, or guesses?

  15. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Reply to calvin post on January 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> Image 0854 and image 0876 from Mackenzie camera (one taken
    >> at Doce and One at Yarnell) appear to show Robert Caldwell wearing
    >> a Garmin GPS on his right shoulder strap.
    >> Thoughts???

    calvin… THANK YOU!

    You are a steely-eyed rocket man!


    It’s a Garmin Oregon 450 handheld GPS unit.

    Enhancement on IMG_0876 of Caldwell from the Yarnell fire shows that it
    actually says ‘Oregon 450’ so on the upper left corner of the unit in the
    white ‘sideways’ writing on the front case of the unit.

    The Garmin Oregon 450 handheld GPS unit is an older one. It was new
    enough to not need that distinctive ‘wide antenna’ on the top like the
    REALLY old GPS handhelds but is not obsolete and is no longer manufactured.

    It was replaced a few yeas ago by the newer Garmin Colorado and Dakota series.

    Here’s a direct link to a ‘side’ photo of the Garmin Oregon 450 showing that same,
    unique ‘curved’ side striping/seam as seen on Caldwell’s unit…


    This Caldwell Oregon 450 GPS unit is NOT listed in any official evidence
    document nor has it ever been mentioned until now. ( Thanks again to calvin! ).

    Since this GPS unit is ALSO seen being worn by Captain Jesse Steed at
    the Doce fire ( see other MacKenzie photo details below )… then it’s possible
    this GPS unit is just like Marsh’s cellphone. It might have simply been
    ‘Propterty of the Prescott Fire Department’ and ( just like Marsh’s cellphone ),
    when they might have ‘found it’ at the deployment site, PFD found no reason
    to let either the YCSO police or the SAIT investigators know about it.

    The Prescott Fire Department may have just considered it ‘their personal property’
    and so they were able to keep it from ever entering the official ‘chain of evidence’.

    Even if it did NOT belong to PFD… they may have treated it like they did
    Christopher’s Canon Powershot camera and simply found a roundabout way
    to return it to Robert Caldwell’s family without it ever entering the hands of
    any investigators.

    It’s important to establish the ‘chain of possession’ on this Garmin Oregon 450
    GPS unit now that we now Robert Caldwell was WEARING it that day.

    If found… it most probably will have EXACT TIMES for every single place
    Caldwell and GM traveled that day as well as exact GPS coordinates.

    The LOGS on this device area always recording data when it’s turned on.

    ** Christopher MacKenzie photos that all show this Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit…

    IMG_0876 – From the Yarnell Fire – 10:45:37 AM, June 30, 2013

    This is the picture taken at 10:45 AM that morning in Yarnell where
    Rober Caldwell is posing for Christopher MacKenzie with the ‘lit torch’
    in his hand. The Garmin Oregon 450 GPS unit is clearly seen attached
    to the upper end of his right front pack strap up near his shoulder.

    This is the picture that, if you download the original high-res version and
    enhance it some more… shows clearly the ‘Oregon 450’ writing in white
    letters ( sideways ) on the upper end of the face of the GPS unit.

    Metadata ( partial )

    Camera: Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS
    Lens: 5 – 20 mm – Shot at 13 mm (shot wide open)
    Exposure: Auto exposure, 1/251 sec, f/4.5, ISO 80
    Flash: Off, Did not fire
    Focus: Single, Face Detect, with a depth of field of from 2.51 m to infinity.
    AF Area Mode: Multi-point AF or AI AF
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 10:45:37 AM
    File: 3,240 × 4,320 JPEG (14.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 97%

    IMG_0854 – From Doce Fire

    Caldwell is ‘tying his boot’ but the Oregon 450 GPS unit is clearly seen there
    ( and lit well by the sun ) between his head/chin and his knee and attached to
    his right front pack strap.

    In this picture, we are looking at the LEFT side of the Oregon 450 unit strapped
    to Caldwell’s right front pack strap.

    Notice the unique ‘curved’ striping/seam on the side of the GPS unit and the
    location of the ‘button’ in one of the ‘curves’ near the top of the unit. That is
    unique to the Garmin Oregon 450 GPS device.

    See link above for a photo of this unique ‘curved’ striping/seam.

    We can also clearly see the big ‘clip’ on the back of the GPS unit that is holding
    it to his pack strap. Again… that ‘clip’ is unique to the Garmin Oregon 450.

    IMG_0874 – From Doce Fire

    Caldwell and Steed in the same photo.

    Caldwell now appears to just have the ‘microphone extender’ for his Bendix in
    the same location on his right front pack strap where he normally wears the
    Oregon 450 GPS unit… but now Jesse Steed seems to have the (same?)
    Oregon 450 GPS in the same place Caldwell usually wears it. His right front
    pack strap.

    Steed is definitely wearing a Garmin GPS Oregon 450 ( you can tell from the
    shape and the button on the top curve of the device )… but whether this is the
    exact same Garmin Oregon 450 unit that we see Caldwell wearing in other
    photos is not certain. Maybe Steed has his own Oregon 450 and was ALSO
    wearing his in Yarnell on June 30. If so… where is Jesse Steed’s Oregon 450?

    IMG_0875 – From Doce Fire

    Caldwell and Steed in the same photo.

    Same as IMG_0874. Caldwell has the extended microphone on his right front
    pack strap and it’s Steed who has the Oregon 450 GPS unit on his right front
    pack strap.

    This time… we can see the top of the rounded-edge GPS unit and there appears
    to what might be mistaken for a piece of tape across the curved top of the unit
    but that’s actually just what the top ‘button’ on the Garmin Oregon series looks
    like. It’s a ‘curved button’ embedded into the top curve of the unit.

    IMG_0873 – From Doce Fire

    Caldwell and Steed in the same photo.

    Steed appears to still have the GPS unit on his right front pack strap but
    Caldwell is blocking the full view of it in this photo.

    ** Official GARMIN Oregon 450 Product Information…

    Oregon 450
    Part Number: 010-00697-40
    $329.99 USD

    Rugged Touchscreen Navigation

    – 3″ sunlight-readable touchscreen display.
    – Worldwide basemap with shaded relief.
    – 3-axis compass with accelerometer and barometric altimeter sensors.
    – microSD™ card slot.

    Explore More
    Oregon 450 comes with a built-in worldwide basemap with shaded
    contours. Simply touch the color screen to navigate. Its digital
    elevation maps show you shaded contours at higher zoom levels,
    giving you a big picture of the surrounding terrain.

    Get Your Bearings
    Oregon 450 has a built-in 3-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass,
    which shows your heading even when you’re standing still, without
    holding it level. Its barometric altimeter tracks changes in pressure to
    pinpoint your precise altitude, and you can even use it to plot barometric
    pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather
    conditions. See changes in your elevation ahead of you and where you’ve
    been with enhanced track navigation. With its high-sensitivity,
    WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix® satellite prediction,
    Oregon 450 locates your position quickly and precisely and maintains
    its GPS location even in heavy cover and DEEP CANYONS.

    Share Wirelessly
    With Oregon 450 you can share your waypoints, tracks, routes and
    geocaches wirelessly with other compatible Oregon, Colorado and
    Dakota devices. Send your favorite hike to your friend to enjoy or the
    location of a cache to find. Just touch “send” to transfer your information.

    Find Fun
    Oregon 450 supports GPX files for downloading geocaches
    and details straight to your unit. By going paperless, you’re not only helping
    the environment but also improving efficiency. Oregon stores and displays
    key information, including location, terrain, difficulty, hints and descriptions,
    which means no more manually entering coordinates and paper print outs!
    Simply upload the GPX file to your unit and start hunting for caches. Show
    off photos of your excursions with Oregon’s picture viewer. Slim and lightweight,
    Oregon is the perfect companion for all your outdoor pursuits.

    Plan Your Next Trip
    Take charge of your next adventure with BaseCamp™, software that lets you
    view and organize maps, waypoints, routes, and tracks. This free trip-planning
    software even allows you to create Garmin Adventures that you can share
    with friends, family or fellow explorers. BaseCamp displays topographic
    map data in 2-D or 3-D on your computer screen, including contour lines
    and elevation profiles. It also can transfer an unlimited amount of satellite
    images to your device when paired with a BirdsEye Satellite Imagery

    Garmin Oregon 450 Technical Specs…

    Physical & Performance:
    Unit dimensions: WxHxD 2.3″ x 4.5″ x 1.4″ (5.8 x 11.4 x 3.5 cm)
    Display size: WxH 1.53″W x 2.55″H (3.8 x 6.3 cm); 3″ diag (7.6 cm)
    Display resolution: WxH 240 x 400 pixels
    Display type: Transflective color TFT touchscreen
    Weight: 6.8 oz (192.7 g) with batteries
    Battery: 2 AA batteries (not included); NiMH or Lithium recommended
    Battery life: 16 hours
    Waterproof : Yes (IPX7)
    Floats: No
    High-sensitivity receiver: Yes
    Interface: High-speed USB and NMEA 0183 compatible

    Maps & Memory:
    Basemap: Yes
    Preloaded maps: No
    Ability to add maps: Yes
    Built-in memory: 850 MB
    Accepts data cards: microSD™ card (not included)
    Waypoints/favorites/locations: 2000
    Routes: 200
    Track log: 10,000 points, 200 saved tracks

    Features & Benefits:
    Automatic routing (turn by turn routing on roads): Yes (with optional mapping for detailed roads)
    Electronic compass: Yes (tilt-compensated 3-axis)
    Touchscreen: Yes
    Barometric altimeter: Yes
    Camera: No
    Geocaching-friendly: Yes (Paperless)
    Custom maps compatible: Yes
    Photo navigation (navigate to geotagged photos): Yes
    Hunt/fish calendar: Yes
    Sun and moon information: Yes
    Tide tables: Yes
    Area calculation: Yes
    Custom POIs (ability to add additional points of interest): Yes
    Unit-to-unit transfer (shares data wirelessly with similar units): Yes
    Picture viewer: Yes
    Garmin Connect(TM) compatible (online community where you
    analyze, categorize and share data): Yes

  16. Marti Reed says


    Sonny just emailed me this. OMG

    From Wildfire Today, posted today:

    Discoveries in Yarnell Hill Fire recordings provide new information about location of Eric Marsh

    ***Was Eric Marsh at the Ranch When the Hotshots Headed Down the Hill?***

    By Holly Neill and John N. Maclean

    “A series of previously undisclosed radio transmissions by Eric Marsh, superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, show that he communicated regularly with supervisors about his crew’s position”

    “Contrary to assertions in the Serious Accident Investigation Report and elsewhere, and just minutes before the crew was entrapped, Marsh told incident supervisors “I’m at the house” and that his crew was “coming down from the heel of the fire.”

    “The radio communications, although muffled and difficult to make out, can be heard in the background on several audio/video recordings of pilot radio transmissions during the fire – radio communications that were publicly released in December by the Arizona State Forestry Division.”

    “Voice 1: Division Alpha, what’s your status right now?

    Marsh: Ah the guys, ah Granite, is making their way down the escape route from this morning. It’s south, mid-slope, cut vertical.”

    Voice 2: “Copy, working their way down into the structures.”

    Voice 1: “ … on the escape route with Granite Mountain right now?”

    Marsh: “Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna jump out at.””

    “Voice 1: Division Alpha, what’s your status right now?

    Marsh: Ah the guys, ah Granite, is making their way down the escape route from this morning. It’s south, mid-slope, cut vertical.”

    Voice 2: “Copy, working their way down into the structures.”

    Voice 1: “ … on the escape route with Granite Mountain right now?”

    Marsh: “Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna jump out at.””

    This whole thing just keeps getting weirder and weirder and then exponentially weirder.

    I’m glad I have on a nice soft Pandora Radio playllist right now.

    • Marti Reed says

      I am just totally dumbfoundedly flabergasted. And I have absolutely no idea, from this article, what/where these videos are.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      We’ve known since Elizabeth first told us here that there are/were
      radio communications captured in the background of these
      ‘videos’ being made that day by the air guys. She even reported
      that first “Musser calling Marsh” transmission in the background.

      It would not surprise me at all if the rest of these ‘conversations’
      being reported by author John Maclean are, in fact, also right
      there in those air videos.

      The supposition in the article (now) is that Marsh took a group
      of sawyers with him circa 4:45 PM to ‘improve the route’ to
      the ranch ( but still through the fuel-filled box canyon ).

      The article also ‘supposes’ that Marsh ( and the sawyers? )
      ended up all the way at the Boulder Springs Ranch and
      there they were… circa 4:30… just waiting for the rest of GM
      to ‘catch up’ and arrive at the ranch.

      It’s possible ( Geez… if we haven’t learned anything by now
      studying this thing… ANYTHING is possible ).

      Some other ‘mysteries’ would actually be explained by this.

      1) This DOES explain the roll of pink tape found by Tex Gilligan
      at the top of the ridge. Marsh MAY have been ‘marking the
      trail’ for GM if he was, indeed, AHEAD of them that day.

      2) This could also better explain the mysterious ( calm )
      transmission from Marsh about “That’s where we want retardant”
      at 1637, 120 seconds before Steed’s first MAYDAY. If Marsh
      really WAS already at the Boulder Springs Ranch, in that
      clearing, then maybe he really did see that ‘line up flight’ of
      ASM2’s and really was in a position to confirm that’s where a
      drop should take place at that time.

      My big question would then, of course, be… how in the hell did
      Marsh and the sawyers he had with them also end up dying
      at the deployment site?

      The center of the deployment site was 638.33 yards (1,915 feet)
      due west of the very outer perimeter of the Boulder Springs

      If Marsh really wasn’t aware they were in any danger until he,
      himself, heard Steed’s first MAYDAY circa 1639… yet he
      ( and others? ) still had time to RUN the 638 yards WEST to
      where they were ( and then to die with them )…

      …that that automatically means that even at 1639, when Steed
      sent out they MAYDAY… Steed and the crew, themselves also
      had that same ‘plenty of time’ to HAUL ASS due EAST towards
      the ranch and make it all the way there in time.

      It’s pretty much a given now that at least 2 saws can also
      be heard already running right next to Steed when he even
      makes his first MAYDAY call at 1639. That’s why Steed
      is actually YELLING on that call.

      If that is also true… and it means they had already spent some
      time finding and getting to work on the deployment site BEFORE
      Steed even sent out the MAYDAY… then that just adds even
      lots MORE time to the time they needed to just take off running
      due EAST and make it all the way to the ranch safely.

      Either way this ends up going down ( Marsh straggling behind
      them or Marsh already at the ranch and then running BACK
      to them over 638 yards in 120 seconds )…

      …something is still rotten in the kingdom of Denmark, here.

      More to come on this… I’m sure.

      • Marti Reed says

        Man, no kidding. This, to me, is a real frut-basket upset.

        Thanks for being able to be analytical about this when I am just totally speechless.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          It seems the ‘key’ to the whole ‘new scenario’ of
          Marsh having ‘scouted ahead’ all the way to
          the Boulder Springs Ranch is just based on
          someone ( Maclean? Holly? ) thinking they hear
          Marsh say…

          ” Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna
          jump out at.”

          Well… what if what he really said was more like…

          “Nah I’m here at the PLACE where we gonna
          jump OFF at”.

          What if Marsh simply went on ahead down
          the two-track… and he was simply now standing
          at the spot where they were going to ‘jump off
          the two-track’ and drop into the canyon?

          That changes the thinking about whether Marsh
          was ‘ahead’ or ‘behind’ them prior to 4:20… but
          it doesn’t put him all the way at the ranch where
          he ( and some sawyers? ) would have had to
          run BACK west over 630 yards in 120 seconds
          just to die with them.

          So it all comes down to what someone thinks
          they have heard on some air-tapes that don’t
          even seem to have been made public yet.

          As we have seen/heard here ourselves already
          with just the already-made-public stuff… hearing
          every word on an accidentally captured ‘background’
          transmissions is, indeed, a tricky thing.

          The more ears the better.

          • Marti Reed says

            She’s definitely basing her narrative about the sawyers going with him is based on Chris’ photo.

            She comments there:
            “Holly Neill on January 20, 2014 at 8:44 am said:
            The reference to the MacKenzie photo is photo #0887 from the link that Bill posted to the Daily Courier website.”

  17. calvin says

    Image 0854 and image 0876 from Mackenzie camera (one taken at Doce and One at Yarnell) appear to show Robert Caldwell wearing a Garmin GPS on his right shoulder strap.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Calvin… you, sir, are a steely-eyed rocket man.
      It’s a Garmin Oregon 450 handheld GPS unit.
      ( It says so right on the side of it with photo enhancement ).
      See longer post below including tech specs on the Oregon 450.

  18. Marti Reed says

    RE Mystery Man photo

    OK I need help here. I’m having WAY more trouble getting these photos correctly time-stamped. I just emailed Joy/Sonny and I’m also throwing it out to you big brains. This is eating up WAY more time than I have to feed it.

    Here’s what I just wrote to Joy/Sonny:

    “I’m having way more trouble than I thought I was gonna. Somethings not right. You said (or whatever, I looked at it, I think, but I can’t find it right now) that the camera said it was 1:55 AM (i.e. about 2AM to make things easier) when the cellphone said it was 2:33 PM. Did I get that right?

    If that’s correct, I figure I need to move the time stamp about 12 hours and 30 minutes forward.

    But, when I take that photo of Mystery Man, which says 3:29 AM and move it forward 12 and a half hours, it ends up at about 4 PM. Which can’t possibly be right.”

    Any ideas among you alls?

    If so, thanks bunches in advance!

    • Marti Reed says

      PS I do think it has something to do with the helicopter. I may as well go ahead and say what I found with relative timing, not real timing.

      Approximately one hour after Mystery Man was photographed with Eric at the top of a ridge (and I still haven’t had time to zoom way in and enhance and try to see MM in more detail), the yellow helicopter “N14HX” was photographed. About 20 minutes later the heli is photographed with a line hanging from it. A minute later it’s shot twice coming close into the ridgetop. A minute later it’s shot flying high with two things hanging down. A minute later Joy zooms way in so you can see the two things hanging down (which I don’t know what they are, but some of you all may).

      15 minutes later, Joy photographs Eric walking down in the brush.

      So that’s the relative story.

      I also haven’t had time to compare the ridgetop with MM and the ridgetop with the helicopter. And I’m running out of time.

      • Marti Reed says

        So, looks like I was looking at a wrong photo on that or something. We’re conversing now about another photo that could, with some of their help, be more useful for time-stamping this. Keep posted

    • Sitta says

      That’s about right. I subtracted 1:55 from 14:33 and got 12:38.

      So 12:38 is the amount of time you need to add to the camera time stamp. Or just 38 minutes, and change the AM/PM designator.

    • Sitta says

      That would make a 3:29 am stamp, a picture taken at 16:07 (4:07 pm). Not sure what to make of that, myself. I thought Sonny and Joy were off the ridge by then.

  19. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Not only is/was the NIHC listing a cell phone number of (928) 237-0508 for
    Eric Marsh as his primary contact number on their PUBLIC NIHC contact list…

    …the NIHC also maintains another PUBLIC document that has that same cell
    phone number for Marsh… as well as just about every other NIHC Hotshot
    crew leader or boss.

    It even has Brian Frisby’s cell phone number and the cell phone numbers
    of other crew leaders that were in Yarnell that day like Globe Crew, etc.

    No secrets here. Anyone can just ‘Google’ it.
    If anyone on this list doesn’t want these cell phone numbers being
    published then you need to contact the National Interagency Hotshot Crew

    Here it is…

    Chapter 60
    Crews, Overhead, and Specialty Positions
    Position Code Listing of 1 Overhead Positions
    For a complete list of all IQCS recognized position codes,
    refer to the following Web site ( website address is listed )

    Type I/Interagency Hotshot Crews
    Crew Name, Unit, Superintendent, Cell Phone Number, Home Base
    Black Mesa AZ-ASF Frank Auza (928) 245-8652 Overgaard, AZ 7
    Blue Ridge AZ-COF Brian Frisby (928) 606-1026 Happy Jack, AZ 8
    Carson NM-CAF Rich Sack (575) 741-0522 Taos, NM 9
    Flagstaff AZ-COF Bill Kuche (928) 606-2438 Flagstaff, AZ 10
    Fort Apache AZ-FTA Brian Quintero (928) 205-9459 Whiteriver, AZ 11
    Geronimo AZ-SCA Julius Hostetler (928) 961-1451 San Carlos, AZ 12
    Gila NM-GNF Dewey Rebbe (575) 574-0468 Reserve, NM 13
    Globe AZ-TNF Mark Babieracki (970) 946-4800 Globe, AZ 14
    Granite Mountain AZ-AZS Eric Marsh (928) 237-0508 Prescott, AZ 15
    Ironwood AZ-AZS Greg Smith (520) 343-0718 Tucson, AZ 16
    Mormon Lake AZ-COF Matt Caouette (928) 607-4166 Flagstaff, AZ 17
    Mt. Taylor NM-CIF Cathleen Lowe (505) 401-1471 Grants, NM 18
    Navajo AZ-NAA Johnson Benallie (928) 205-9989 Fort Defiance, AZ 19
    Payson AZ-TNF Mike Schinstock (928) 595-0320 Payson, AZ 20
    Pleasant Valley AZ-TNF Patrick Moore (602) 509-8021 Goldfield, AZ 21
    Prescott AZ-PNF Darin Fisher (928) 713-1307 Prescott, AZ 22
    Sacramento NM-LNF Matt Barone (575) 921-9266 Cloudcroft, NM 23
    Santa Fe NM-SNF David Simpson (505) 231-4831 Santa Fe, NM 24
    Silver City NM-GNF Pete Valenzuela (575) 313-2114 Silver City, NM 25
    Smokey Bear NM-LNF Rich Dolphin (575) 937-4875 Ruidoso, NM 26
    Zuni NM-ZUA Myron Sheche (505) 870-8892 Zuni, NM

    • Marti Reed says

      Thx for this both of you. I’m probably not going to pursue it much more any time soon, because I woke up to a main water line break this morning and I’m trying to figure out the MM in Joy’s photo.

      I have a question that, given everything else that’s going on in my life right now, my brain just isn’t answering and I think you can give me a quick and dirty faster that I can figure it out.

      Joy’s cellphone says it’s 2:33 in the afternoon at the same time her camera says it’s 1:55 in the morning. How many hours and minutes is her camera off? Once I get that I can just plug it in and change the timestamps on her camera photos and sync it all.

      BTW Her photos are all on JD’s dropbox now. So they can be downloaded. Much bigger and w/metadata,which I couldn’t do off of her Google + collection.

      I think the helicopter clue may be key here, so thx WTKTT! I’ve got the relative times for the pix and I’m ready to write it up, but I want to get the right time stamps into it first.

      • Marti Reed says

        Actually, I may have just answered my own question down below. Back to the emails to see if she sent me that picture or just told me about it.

    • Marti Reed says

      And PS for Calvin. This is why I keep saying cellphones have accurate timestamps. Camera’s can easily be anywhere from as wildly off as Joy’s was, or somewhat off as Chris’s was. If you can somehow sync a camera photo to a cellphone photo, that will tell you which way and how far you need to go. Wedding photographers do that all the time when they forget to sync their who knows how many cameras–on which they’ll take thousands of photos–ahead of time. They’ll take a photo of the cellphone, and voila! They just plug that time into that pic and it and sync the rest in lightroom and that gets everything all nice and tidy really quick. That’s essentially what Joy did, thankfully!

      • calvin says

        Thanks Marti. I am inclined to believe the cell timestamp over the camera timestamp. From my first comments discussing the YHF, the images from Mackenzie camera 0885, 0886, and 0887 have seemed out of place to me.

    • Marti Reed says

      And, I’ll just add, re Eric’s cellphone. That adds to the list of Impossibles. It is impossible that PFD had any reason to, if they found it, make sure it was returned to Eric’s family.

      • Marti Reed says

        And another thought. That would also mean that Jesse Steed probably had a PFD-issued cellphone for “business” use, also?

        As far as I remember having read, there are no statements indicating that anybody had any cellphone conversations with Jesse Steed. At least any statements by any living people. But only their cellphones/records would hold the answer to the question whether or not Eric and Jesse had any cellphone convos with each other.

        Whether or not he used it that day, how likely do you ff’s think it would have been that he would have left his official PFD cellphone in a Buggy?

        • Eric says

          It is common that career dept.’s like Prescott will issue phones to supervisory line officers. So it is entirely possible that Steed and Marsh would of been issued dept. phones. On duty there would be no reason not to have the phones on them and turned on. It is a back up form of communications to the radio. Would not make sense that they would of been left in the crew vehicle’s. If you are issued a dept. phone and are on a call, your bosses are gonna be upset if they want to talk to you and cannot!

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Calvin has also now discovered that
            Robert Caldwell was carrying a Garmin
            Oregon 450 handheld GPS unit that day
            strapped right there to upper part of his
            left front pack strap.

            It appears this GPS unit might ALSO have
            been ‘PFD issue’ since the pictures from
            the Doce Fire show Jesse Steed wearing
            it at that fire versus Robert Caldwell.

            So where is that Garmin Oregon 450 now?

            It could be just like Marsh’s cellphone.

            If it was ‘PFD issue’ then PFD felt THEY
            had every right to ‘pick it up’ and decide
            what ( if anything ) to do with it then.

            Maybe PFD just decided it was THEIR right
            to decide if it should be ‘entered into
            evidence’… or ( as is apparently the case ),
            NOT ‘enter the evidence chain’.

  20. Bob Powers says

    On the lookout lessons learned—–For many years 60-80’s lookouts were minimum qualified Sector bosses with ICS they became Division Bosses.
    Those were suggested and I think should be mandatory Minimum’s after this fire. A lookout fully experienced would have seen the fire behavior notified the crews and command and got people out of the way and into SZ. That is their job. They should be qualified to give orders when things turn critical.

  21. Bob Powers says

    Marti comment on the phone.
    I worked as a Part time officer on a Sheriff’s department and a small City Police force. On both the County issued cell phones for the staff officers. Patrol Sargent’s, Captains etc.. On the small city all the full time officers (5) were issued Phones as well as the Fire chief. They were normally in sequence numbers. These would be an internal phone list also noted at the Dispatch office the City council might have the numbers as well as they would be paying for them and insuring they were only used for official business. Also local Sheriff and fire departments may have the list of contact numbers. Some one local might be able to get them.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says


      Eric Marsh’s cell phone number is/was (928) 237-0508.

      As of June 29, 2013, he was using it for his official (public)
      contact number as Superintendent of the Granite Mountain

      In other words…

      Eric Marsh’s cell phone number was being officially listed as
      his primary contact number on the National Interagency Hotshot
      Crew Contact list as of June 29, 2013.

      You have to use an Internet ‘Wayback’ machine to see the NIHC
      list as it was on June 29, 2013. They have updated there website
      since the incident and there is no longer any current contact
      information for the Granite Mountain Hotshots. All the NIHC has
      there now ( today ) is a link to their website.

      But here is exactly how the NIHC contact information for
      Granite Mountain Hotshots looked on June 29, 2013…

      Granite Mountain IHC
      Prescott Fire Department
      501 6th Street, Prescott AZ 86301

      Duty location for crew: Prescott, AZ

      Eric Marsh, Superintendent
      Email Eric
      (928) 237-0508 (Cell)

      Jesse Steed, Captain

      (928) 777-1707 (Office)
      (928 928-777-2483 (Fax)

      ** WAYBACK

      If you want to see the full page for yourself just click on the
      link below. What is happening there is that you are using
      an Internet WAYBACK machine ( as they are called ) to
      look at the NIHC contact list page as it appeared ‘wayback’
      on June 29, 2013…

      • Bob Powers says

        WTKTT You get on it fast.

        Now can we get Willis number to see if there is a sequence.
        I would say the number shown for Eric is a PFD assigned cell phone since it is public.

  22. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    I have posted a public video to YouTube that has the audio track from the Blue
    Ridge Hotshot Mccord video entitle YARNELL_GABLE cleaned up and most
    of the background noise has been REMOVED.

    There is still a ‘siren’ going off under the ‘MysteryMan’s voice at the start of the
    clip which is almost impossible to filter out but I believe it’s now easier to make
    out what he is actually saying to Eric Marsh.

    NOTE: The ‘high pitched’ beeps, squeaks and clicks are a by-product of one of
    the ‘High Pass’ noise filters used to remove most of the background noise.

    The full audio clip from the movie plays THREE times in succession in this
    cleaned/filtered version.

    YouTube Movie Title…

    YouTube link…

    After listening a number of times to this ‘cleaned up’ audio track… I am actually
    going to stand by my original translation of what is being said here.

    Here is what I think is being said…

    MysteryMan: Copy… uh… uh… come down and appreciate
    if ya could come a little faster but you’ll figure it out.

    Eric Marsh: Ah… they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire.

    Brian Frisby: Structue Group core, Blue Ridge Hotshots, on TAC 1.

    All ears on deck.
    See what you hear/think now in this ‘cleaned up’ audio.

    • jeff i says

      I can get a “come down” and a “but if” and thats about it. Marsh and Frisby are more clear, but I have better luck with the MM in the unfiltered version.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Thanks, jeff i.
        Yea… MM is tough to hear.
        Not sure I can filter out that siren underneath
        him but I’ll give it a shot.

  23. Marti Reed says

    While spending a serious chunk of time today slowly re-reading through the very long thread of comments on the article in Wildfire Today about the release of the SAIR, and then needing to Google-search the term LODD, because I didn’t know what that meant, I found this article entitled “Why the Fire Service Should Avoid the Term “Line-of-Duty Death””

    It really reverberated with me when I read it. I’ve been wondering for some time if the culture of glorifying risking death in wildland fire-fighting (ala Willis’ narrative of heroism) played a part in what happened on Yarnell Hill.

    I would really appreciate it if wff folks would tell me what they think about this.

    • Marti Reed says

      From the article:

      Chief Alan Brunacini has noted why this tradition is problematic: “When the fire kills us, our department typically conducts a huge ritualistic funeral ceremony, engraves our name on the honor wall and makes us an eternal hero. Every LODD gets the same terminal ritual regardless if the firefighter was taking an appropriate risk to protect a savable life or was recreationally freelancing in a clearly defensive place. A Fire Chief would commit instant occupational suicide by saying that the reason everyone is here today in their dress blues is because the dearly departed failed to follow the department safety plan. Genuine bravery and terminal stupidity both get the same eulogy. Our young firefighters are motivated and inspired to attack even harder by the ceremonialization of our battleground deaths.”(3)

      This culture has been noted among researchers as well. Drs. Kunadharaju, Smith and DeJoy, (2010) from the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia, studied 213 firefighter LODDs. They concluded that:

      “Operating with too few resources, compromising certain roles and functions, skipping or short-changing operational steps and safeguards and relying on extreme individual efforts and heroics may reflect the cultural paradigm of firefighting. This should not be construed to be a culture of negligence or incompetence, but rather a culture of longstanding acceptance and tradition. Within many fire service organizations, these operational tenets may be accepted as ‘the way we do things.’ Moreover, this tolerance of risk may be reinforced both externally and internally through the positive public image of firefighters and firefighting and internally through the fire service’s own traditions and member socialization.”(4)

    • jeff i says

      In my opinion glorifying afterwords, or “sugar coating” in the investigation, does nothing to prevent this from happening again. I think they (SAIR) needed to come out in and in as respectful way as they can, with no reading between the lines needed, and say the GM crew overhead made a fatal mistake. Once this is out in the open, then I think lessons can be learned, and work can get underway to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

      • Bob Powers says

        You are absolutely right Jeff i. And they could cover some of the 18 and specific 10 standard orders it isn’t very hard to check off. There were mistakes made not only GM but the whole fire.

    • Sitta says

      Some of the survivors tore him a new one in the comments section, but I think his premise is correct. I’m not familiar with Burton Clark, but it sounds like he’s got a history of pushing for good changes (seat belt wearing, for example). I care more about actual lives saved than perpetuating romantic imagery, so I suppose this is a pretty easy one for me.

      I think there is a little more grey area than he describes. For example, one survivor responds with her husband’s story: killed by another driver while responding to a call — neither heroic nor taking bad risks, just tragic and unlucky. Would you want to remove the expected, traditional status of the LODD funeral and memorial? That’s a tough one.

      The easy part is recognizing that fire fighter deaths should receive a full, thorough investigation. No whitewash. No question about that.

  24. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to calvin post on January 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    >> calvin wrote…
    >> Now we have the Mackenzie cell phone photos and I really cant
    >> wait to hear your thoughts.

    I have just now seen them. Amazing.
    I had no idea there were 12 of them.


    This is the one I’ve been waiting for.

    It is hard-time stamped and shows Robert Caldwell shooting his
    video that captured OPS1 Abel telling DIVS A Marsh…

    1) Keep ME informed ( of your situation and your whereabouts ).
    2) Hunker and be safe ( in the black )
    3) We’ll get some Air Support down there ASAP.

    Looks like it was, in fact, 3:50 PM on the nose when Abel gave
    Marsh those suggestions/directives/orders.

    1550 ( 3:50 PM ) + 6 seconds.

    NOTE: Keep in mind that if the SAIR times are correct about when
    Brendan left his lookout post then he is still, theorectically, sitting right
    down there on that pile of rocks right near the old-grader location in
    the center of the photo… and still right in front of that charging wall
    of flames. According to the SAIR… BR Supt Brian Frisby would not
    even be picking him up from that ‘clear spot’ in the center of the
    photo for even another 5 minutes yet. ( 1555 ).

    Something is still not quite right about all that.


    Metadata ( partial )…

    Camera: Apple iPhone 4S
    Lens: 4.3 mm
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Program AE, 1/219 sec, f/2.4, ISO 50
    Flash: Off, Did not fire
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 3:50:06 PM
    File: 3,264 × 2,448 JPEG (8.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 89%

    More to come ( about the MacKenzie iPhone photos ).

    • Robert the Second says


      GMHS Brendan was “theorectically, sitting right down there on that pile of rocks right near the old-grader location in the center of the photo… and still right in front of that charging wall of flames”

      “Something is still not quite right about all that.”

      Yes, kinda my point above. ALL DAY LONG, the GMHS had a MUCH BETTER vantage point, they could see it ALL below them AND had more experience to boot to make those necessary, based-on-experience judgement calls. Brendan (or whomever) set his trigger point WAY TOO CLOSE as far as I’m concerned. AND the GMHS overhead apparently did NOT warn him of the impending fire behavior they watched for quite a while, based on their experience, but instead let the 2-3 year WFF decide for himself and then approve of it?. “Okay, it’s cool …” THEY should have been telling HIM about his trigger point, NOT letting him decide.

      To me, this suggests more of the ‘prior bad decisions with good outcomes’ attitude. Like, we’ve been through this before kinda thing and everything turned out okay then, so no big deal …. It also suggests a training issue, what with Brendan considering WTF DEPLOYMENT ZONES TWICE instead of using his head and his training to avoid his predicament. TIME was making the decision for him instead of him deciding what to do. That’s a bad predicament to be in under those circumstances.

      I agree, something is not quite right about all of that.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        I think every now and then I have inserted a ‘fact’ into
        the Brendan discussions that, while it does not EXCUSE
        anything such as everything you are talking about above…
        I still think it has to be factored into why things were the
        way they were circa 3:30 ish.

        Brendan was still recovering from being SICK for the
        previous 48 hours. I don’t think he was really up to
        being there at all that day… and probably shouldn’t have
        been… but unless they had a full 20 man contingent/roster
        for the day they (GM) would have had to pass on the
        contract, right?

        I think sticking Brendan down BELOW them to act
        as some kind of ‘lookout’ ( when it’s questionable
        whether he was even qualified to be doing that )
        was probably just to give him something to do since
        by that time, in the 97 degree heat, he probably just
        wasn’t up to the grunt work anymore up at the work spot.

        There is no proof that Brendan was feeling really bad
        again by about NOON… but I think that has to be
        factored in as a possibility why they even sent him
        down there to ‘sit on a rock’ in the first place.

        All that being said… I agree with you.

        Looking now at the MacKenzie cellphone photos and the
        absolute timestamps covering this ‘leaving his lookout
        position’ you HAVE to ask yourself…

        …what the heck took so long?

        What were they really thinking?

        Are you telling me that the minute they knew the winds
        were changing ( some time before the trigger point
        was ever met ) the only plan to get Brendan out of there
        was to just hope Frisby could make it there in time to
        get him… when Frisby was actually working WAY over
        in another area?

        What if the Blue Ridge ATV had blown some tires or a
        piston or two the moment before Brendan needed the
        evac or even while Brian was headed out there?

        I still think they should have made Tex Gilligan IC
        that day. He knew it was time to “get the hell out of
        there” 2 hours earlier… and he did just that… and
        lived to tell the story.

        Besides… am I still the only one who thinks it’s bizarre
        that we can now see for ourselves what the fire was
        doing down there at what is pretty much the same time
        Marsh ( DIVS A ) called Frisby and actually asked him
        to COME OUT THERE just for a ‘face-to-face’ meeting?

        I still think that’s pretty unrealistic… and was a dangerous
        request to even make when they both had radios to
        talk about whatever it was Marsh wanted to talk about.

        I think it’s pretty clear from all the photos and timestamps
        we can now see that even if Frisby had picked up
        Brendan and continued up to the ridge for this stupid
        ‘face-to-face’ wanted so bad… Then BOTH Frisby and
        McDonough would have been ‘stuck’ up there along
        with the 19. It would have been WAY too dangerous
        for Frisby to even try to pump that ATV back down
        that two-track again by the time this ‘meeting’ ended.

        It’s like Marsh and Steed were staring right down at
        what was happening most of that afternoon but it
        simply wasn’t really registering in their brains what
        the reality was… and was ABOUT to become.

        • Robert the Second says


          You only need 18 to accept an assignment, so they were plenty good even without Brendan.

          You said “Then BOTH Frisby and McDonough would have been ‘stuck’ up there along with the 19. It would have been WAY too dangerous for Frisby to even try to pump that ATV back down that two-track again by the time this ‘meeting’ ended.”

          NO PROBLEM because the GMHS were in perfectly good black remember. So, nobody would really be ‘stuck’ up there. It was a good place to be, because it was ‘WAY too dangerous down below’ ONLY if you had NO SZ. They had A LOT of good black up above,not just the GMHS SZ. Going to a SZ and hanging out in a SZ waiting for the fire behavior to pulse, is OKAY – it’s fighting fire.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            I hear ya… but I’ll bet a sawbuck that is NOT
            where Brian Frisby would have wanted to
            get ‘stuck’ just because Marsh wanted to
            have a ‘face-to-face’ about something at a
            time when just about everyone else on the
            fire ( except Marsh and Steed? ) had realized
            it was already time to start evacuating.

            I think the timing on the request itself is still
            just very, very odd. Lacks awareness of
            the unfolding reality… or something like that.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Caveat: Did not mean to suggest for
              one moment that ‘evacuating’ ( back
              to town ) was a good idea for
              Marsh/Steed. Eastern edge… yes.
              Western edge… just be safe in the
              black and let the big dog eat for 50

              Ah… heck… you know what I
              was trying to say.

    • calvin says

      WTKTT…. Does that mean image 2733 (p23 SAIR) is also taken at 1550 as the SAIR says? IF that is the case, image 0885, 0886 and 0887 from Mackenzie camera do not fit in with the times. Remember this ongoing discussion?

  25. Joy A Collura says

    I know Sonny has been writing some of you but I wanted you all to know the update because we keep all in the loop—Mike Dudley replied to what ‘oh god’ meant and it was nothing but a kind reply; see:
    Sat, Jan 18, 2014 at 4:21 PM
    Hi Sonny,

    I was just reacting to the constant influx of information that continues. On the other hand, it’s not a surprise with something of this scale. However, I appreciate being kept informed of new findings, it continues to add to our collective knowledge.
    Thank you.
    Mike Dudley
    USDA Forest Service
    I thought this was information to show you all that there was no ill intent with his reply ‘oh god’—they must have a lot on their plate to have their normal work load than more incoming information on this fire. I really told Sonny due to my health I will peak one last time on this comment wall and there is enough of you here that has Sonny’s email if you ever have any future questions. Due to the SAIR having my personal information and receiving incoming odd text and phone calls; my number was disconnected today. There is no further contact information for me but you can always call Sonny at the 480# some of you have as well. I wish all the best in getting clarity on this fire. I shared all I can on the topic. Happy 2014 to all.

  26. says

    Hello to all, my name is David Turbyfill; I am the father of Travis, One of the Members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Group Crew. 1st of all I would like to thank John Dougherty for digging hard on this incident that all of you have been voicing your concerns about. I also want you guys to know that I am extremely grateful to John, that he had access to this mountain of data from the Arizona Dept. of Forestry, and could have released this information prior to Christmas. I want you to know that I had asked for him to withhold this until after the New Year’s holiday to give the families time to have some expectation of privacy and normalcy. However, I am very happy that he has also made it public and have a public forum for people to both view the photographs, and debate the information related to the tragedy on Yarnell Hill.
    Not that it really matters, but I do want all of you to know that Travis’ mother, Colleen and I are not part of the litigation in any way. We have chosen a different path to honor our son Travis, you could check out our Facebook page here,
    Of course we would love for all of you to like and support the organization that we have chosen to create.
    And our work does not stop there. Going forward with plans to encourage our legislative delegation and from encouragement from the general public being outraged by the situation at Yarnell Hill. My goal is to have a legislative spending bill for multiyear strategy of allocating a billion dollars on new firefighter safety equipment and policy changes as it relates to the wildland firefighting community. This will be a monumental task, and take all of our efforts combined to do this.

    Is taken me several hours of reading and trying to dig through all of the comments that of been put on since the 1st the year on this forum. There is a huge amount of great work that some of you have done and very thoughtful comments. I have noticed some of the very contentious banter that does but on between some of you as well. It has been very useful to see some of the information that some of the more informed folks about photography about the metadata information that is on the photos I applied your work in your information that you have a posted on this forum.
    I think the thing that has gotten to me the most, is how much time all of you guys have spent some of you guys being either retired or X wildland firefighters in some of you also being current fire wildland firefighters. How much time that you guys have spent on trying to figure out what the crew was thinking what they were told and why that they did what they did. But the most glaring thing that I still find most amazing is that you guys have not come to the same conclusion I have is that the fire shelters were a 100% failure to the crew, regardless of how all the crew performed in their activities for that day. Whether or not they should of been where they were really should not have had they been given the radio command that no one has come up with, or a cell phone call to Eric to cause the crew to come off the black. The bottom line is, is the crew was proceeding to the Helms, Boulder Springs Ranch, this was part of the morning brief that was to be their escape route, “bombproof” was a term written about. I will tell all of you that it was somewhat haunting when it 1st came public, of the Blue Ridge helmet cam video with the GM IHC voice communications between air and ground. While it does not seem that that Eric or Jesse had any particular panic in their voices. It does seem clear that both air commanders and the incident command radio officers did not fully recognize the crew was in trouble. I am in full agreement with one of you that came up with the idea that the “MADAY” radio communications should be brought into play.
    Is just been today that I was able to download the pictures from Elizabeth’s of the deployment site. While I have not seen the fire shelter and PPE photographs prior to Christmas, I had not seen the deployment site photos. So now I am trying to figure out exactly the position of my son as a relates to the deployment site photos, would appreciate any help that any of you might have on that.
    I am sorry that I am a broken record, but I still say FIRE SHELTERS, FIRE SHELTERS, and FIRE SHELTERS.

    I’ve always felt from the beginning, that there has been huge misjudgments and mistakes made by the fire management teams. From the time on Friday evening the decision was made that the fire was too difficult to get to, and the lack of a decisive aggressive attack on Saturday, June 29. You have to wonder about the decision-making process of officers that would put the incident command post to the northeast end of the fire to begin with, as a resident of this part of Arizona the normal airflow pattern is from a south westerly to northeast. For us Prescott residents this should be an easy observation, as you only have to think back to the DOCE fire which was only a week or so prior to the Yarnell fire, it quickly gobbled up nearly 8000 acres in one afternoon by high moving winds.
    Also it doesn’t take a real rocket scientist to figure out driving down the highway that radio communication would be difficult from Peoples Valley to the ridge line that the crew worked on or any low-lying areas around them.
    If you read through the report you will see on June 30, at around 9 AM the Incident Command Post was moved to Model Creek School in Peoples Valley. By 3 PM that same day incident command ordered the dozer be moved to the north end of the fire where the IC P was being threatened by fire at that time. This in itself could show the clear lack of understanding and judgment on the part of incident command of how the fire behavior could act in the area.
    But even amongst all this management chaos, and there certainly was that by the fact of the escalation of the type of incident command structure that was being put in place at almost an hourly basis and the decision to move incident command from Yarnell fire station to Peoples Valley. It is absolutely imperative that management not make mistakes and handoffs of management operations from one team to the next.
    As weather conditions changed that afternoon, in the fire change direction suddenly and unexpectedly, it should have been the utmost priority of the management team to assess, find, and aide if necessary, all the crews that were on the eastern flank of that fire. These things did not seem to happen from a management perspective.
    Having said all this and I’ve said a lot, I have some concerns of the ADOSH findings, and citations. If the Arizona State Forestry Division is found guilty of these citations, it could have real negative impact on wildland firefighting operations throughout the US, and particularly Arizona. ADOSH cited Arizona State forestry not just for losing Granite Mountain Hotshots, but for endangering the lives of other wildland firefighters present at Yarnell fire. Four of incident commanders have to withdraw firefighters any time the wind blows a lot more homes will be lost because of it. Think about that statement and apply it to the DOCE fire.
    David Turbyfill

    • Sitta says

      Mr. Turbyfill,

      Thank you for your input here, and for your work to help fire fighters in your son’s memory. I’m sorry that I never got to meet Travis. I think we would have found we have a lot of values in common. I deeply appreciate your efforts to improve safety, with PPE, awareness, and legislation.

      I admit, I am one of those who were trained that fire shelters will only give you a flip of the coin chance, should all else fail. If their effectiveness can be improved, I think it’s an important area to research. However, I can’t help but wonder if the Canadians have it right, that fire fighters and their managers can rely too much on the shelters, and take risks they shouldn’t. I don’t have any answers, just my wildland background and bias.

      I’ve also hoped that in the aftermath of Yarnell, there would be a cultural and financial shift back toward prevention and planning. That is, perhaps some of the cut fuels positions, crews, and funding could be reinstated. Initial attack would be more aggressive, and we’d our work on the ground earlier in the day. Also, that more emphasis would be placed on homeowners taking responsibility for fuel reduction. Maybe insurance companies offering more firewise support.

      We are all working toward the goals of safer fire fighters and citizens. Thank you for reminding us who we are here for, and for offering your perspective, and for your activism. I have a feeling that your heart already tells you all you need to know about what Travis would want you to do. If I were your child, I would be incredibly proud. We may not agree on every point. But I’m impressed with what you’ve done with head, heart, and hard work.

    • Marti Reed says

      I am so deeply grateful that you posted this here. It’s getting really late here in Albuquerque, and I’m really getting sleepy. So this is gonna be a bit briefer than i might post more about some time tomorrow. But I want to respond to you now.

      I caught, and posted here , when that Facebook page posted the JD article about how GMHS were asked to go protect the structures in Yarnell, and there were a number of comments, including yours, to the effect of realizing that “we have to get organized” to push for a real accident investigation. And I thought to myself, “No kidding! I hope somebody there is watching this conversation we are having here.” I really think that is the case. And I knew you had posted some comments here in the past and really hoped you, and maybe others, were reading what we are trying to do here.

      I’m the one who spent a number of weeks during the holiday season looking at all the YCSO photos of the SAIT investigation of the Deployment Site. I’m the one who reported here about how they did it. I did it because, as a photographer, I first noticed, via the SAIT photograph posted on this site, Christopher MacKenzie’s camera sitting right there in full view. I wanted to know, “What happened to that camera?” So I researched that site via the photographs, and researched what happened to that camera, and documented how the Prescott Fire Department removed that camera from the site, and constructed an elaborate process of returning that camera to Chris’s father while keeping it out of the chain of evidence.

      I was, frankly, shocked by the implications of that,

      You are asking where your son’s body/shelter is on the photographs. I know this site, via the photographs, probably better than anybody.

      I believe your son’s shelter is number 2 in the photographs. I found it quite difficult to absolutely line up the photographs with the body maps. I now think that may be because the helicopter probably may have blown things around. But the CLOSEST I could come was to connect your son’s location on the Body Map with shelter 2. It could also be shelter 3, but I think that’s less probable. But I still could be wrong.

      That’s why it frustrates me no end that the SAIT never published a map of the Deployment Site, and I’ve asked periodically how that could be.

      JD has posted, among his FOIA collection, a collection of photographs of the shelters. When I first looked at those photos, I didn’t download them because they didn’t include much of anything that identified them with whose shelters they are. I just discovered this evening that he also included a file that identifies them more closely. I haven’t had time to look at that file, and get a bead on this.

      If this had been my daughter, who is about the same age as your son, I would also want to know what you want to know. I have come to believe that that the Forest Service, in its somewhat understandable desire to not “pin the blame on anyone” has undercut what it needs to do by making this SAIR not really an investigation. There is NO real investigation of this disaster. I think this is a significant problem that, unfortunately, only the lawsuits, IF they are not settled by the families for dollars, have any chance at all of uncovering the truth of what really happened and why it happened.

      Thank you so much for visiting here, reading our comments, and posting. You are exactly who I believe we need to have reading us, paying attention to what we are writing here, and using what we are trying to offer people like you.

      My heartfelt sympathies to you on the tragic, and preventable (in many ways) loss of your son. And thank you for making that loss a motivation for trying to change things to make thing less dangerous for all those who go out there with the purpose of corralling wildfires in our great Southwest before they do more damage than they would do otherwise.


    • Bob Powers says

      David God Bless you.
      The Fire shelters will never be the whole answer but the need to be improved as has been stated over and over. The R5 California FS safety FIRST program in 1972 stated that the Fire shelters needed improvement the first improvement was almost 20 years later. That’s what they had in 2013 with very little change in the heat they can withstand.
      If you need any help let me know and I’ll do what I can.

  27. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Bob Powers on January 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm said:

    >> Mr. Powers said…
    >> While you may not believe this the SAIT had a non accusatory investigation.
    >> They were not looking for actions responsible for the fatality information
    >> gathering.

    That may have been how they ultimately decided to conduct their investigation
    but that is NOT what even they, themselves, said they were going to do even
    in their OWN (initial) press releases.

    I suppose that’s why people were so mad when the report came out.

    It may have ( ultimately ) just been written according to this ‘learning’ approach
    thing… but it was NOT what they had actually PROMISED they were going to
    do even in their own initial press releases.

    From official press release(s) announcing the start of the “Special Accident
    Investigation”… just days after the tragedy…

    ** PRESCOTT NEWS ( full text below )

    “We are confident that the investigative team will find lessons to be learned
    from this tragedy,”

    “We have a responsibility to those lost and their loved ones, as well as to
    current and future wildland firefighters, to understand what happened

    ** ASSOCIATED PRESS ( full text below )

    PRESCOTT — Investigators from across the U.S. poured into the mountain town
    of Yarnell on Tuesday to figure out why 19 elite firefighters perished in an
    out-of-control wildfire and whether human error played a role in the tragedy.

    A team of fire officials drawn from across the country by Atlanta NIMO,
    or National Incident Management Organization, arrived in the area Tuesday
    to find out EXACTLY WHAT WENT WRONG.

    ** DETAILS…


    The full text of one of the official press annoucement from the SAIT itself
    about ‘what they were assembled to do’…

    NOTE: Notice how they were sure to be affirming the inclusion of Arizona ADOSH
    on the SAIT team only just long enough for them to appear in the public press
    releases… and THEN ( 48 hours later ) they ‘kicked them off the investigation’.

    Prescott News…
    Wednesday, 03 July 2013 11:34
    Yarnell Hill Fire Investigation Begins

    PHOENIX, Ariz. – An official investigation into the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain
    Hotshots killed June 30 in the Yarnell Hill Fire began yesterday.

    The independent investigation will be led by Florida State Forester Jim Karels.
    Mike Dudley, Acting Director of Cooperative Forestry for the USDA Forest
    Service, will be the secondary team lead.

    Other entities participating in the investigation include the U.S. Forest Service
    Missoula Technology and Development Center, the Missoula Fire Department,
    and the Bureau of Land Management, and Arizona Division of Occupational Safety
    and Health. Team members are technical specialist and fire behavior analysts.
    The local liaisons to the nine-member Yarnell Hill Investigation Team are Arizona
    State Forester Scott Hunt and Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo.

    The last of the team members arrived in Phoenix on Tuesday for an in-briefing
    from the Arizona State Forester.

    As part of the investigation, the team will review Sunday’s weather conditions,
    fire department records, radio logs and any other evidence that may help
    determine how to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.

    “We are confident that the investigative team will find lessons to be learned
    from this tragedy,” Hunt said. “We have a responsibility to those lost and
    their loved ones, as well as to current and future wildland firefighters, to
    understand what happened as completely as possible.”

    The team will release updates from its investigation later this week.


    Investigation of possible human error underway in Yarnell
    Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013 11:26 pm
    Updated: 7:53 am, Tue Jul 9, 2013.
    The Associated Press

    PRESCOTT — Investigators from across the U.S. poured into the mountain town
    of Yarnell on Tuesday to figure out why 19 elite firefighters perished in an
    out-of-control wildfire and whether human error played a role in the tragedy.

    The monthslong investigation into the nation’s biggest loss of firefighters
    since 9/11 will look at whether the Hotshot crew paid attention to the
    forecast, created an escape route and took other precautions developed
    after a similar disaster in Colorado nearly two decades ago.

    A team of fire officials drawn from across the country by Atlanta NIMO,
    or National Incident Management Organization, arrived in the area Tuesday
    to find out EXACTLY WHAT WENT WRONG.

  28. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Reply to calvin post on January 12, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    >> WTKTT said…
    >> Darrell Willis gave an on-camera interview at some point where he talked
    >> about how ‘excited’ they ( GM ) were to be working that day because of the
    >> ‘overtime’ they were going to be making.
    >> calvin said…
    >> Could you provide a link for this interview ( with Darrell Willis )? I saw it once
    >> (almost certain) and have never been able to find it again. Thanks

    It was part of the ABC News ( Brian Ross ) exclusive interview with Brendan
    McDonough that originally aired August 7, 2013.

    It’s also the interview where Brian Ross asked McDonough to talk about
    and/or comment on the ‘decisons’ made circa 4:00 PM by Marsh and Steed
    and Brendan totally dodged the question.

    ABC News Exclusive: Sole Survivor of Arizona Hotshot Firefighting
    Tragedy Asks Why Not Me?
    Originally aired August 7, 2013


    Brian Ross: ( Narrating )

    Their chief, Darrell Willis, says the team was up to the task.

    Darrell Willis: ( on-camera, leaning on a fence )

    At 6 o’clock in the morning I got a call from the crew.
    They’re all excited. Ya know. They’re goin’ to a fire…
    uh… it’s their day off… and they’re EXCITED about
    workin’ on their day off ‘cus their gonna make some overtime.


    Brendan McDonough:

    At that point I could see the fire already…
    instead of moving north, it started moving south.

    Brian Ross: Towards you?

    Brendan McDonough:

    Yea. Instead of BACKING towards us… it was starting to become a head.

    Brian Ross: Racing towards you?

    Brendan McDonough: Yes.

    Brian Ross: So they could see it as well?

    Brendan McDonough:

    Um hmm… Yes sir.

    And… they said… If you need to get outta there… go ahead and get outta there.
    We can see what’s goin’ on… we want you to be safe, too, ya know.

    I just wanted to keep it short and simple.

    If you need anything… call me. I’m on the other end of the fire.
    If ya… whatever you need… I’m here… the buggies are parked.
    He said “Ok… see ya soon.”

    Brian Ross: Who was that?

    Brendan McDonough:

    Ah… Jesse Steed. My Captain.
    He said “Allright… I’ll see ya soon”.
    I said “Ok”.

    Brian Ross: So when you said “I’m at my trigger point… I’m going… ah?”.

    Brendan McDonough: Yea… they could see me getting off my rock. Yea.

    Brian Ross: Should THEY have left then, too?

    Brendan McDonough:

    ( Pause )

    ( McDonough sighs, leans back and clasps both his hands behind his head ).

    That’s not something…

    ( Another pause)

    That’s not my decision.

    Brian Ross: Do you wonder about that?

    Brendan McDonough:

    Nah. I never question the decisions they made.
    I never questioned ’em before… why should I question ’em now.
    It’s not their fault. It wasn’t a bad decision.

    Brian Ross: Do you torment yourself and think… I wish I had done this… or this? Something you could have done?

    Brendan McDonough:

    There’s nothing I could have done besides have been up on the hill with them.
    Had someone else been in my position.
    To have been with them and died in my boots with ’em.
    There’s nothing else I coulda done.
    I did everything that was expected of me.

    • calvin says

      WTKTT….. thanks… I really cannot express how grateful I am for all of your work.

      I was interested in Willis’s description of the crews excitement the crew expressed to be working “overtime” and how they were enthused, like he actually talked to them that morning or something.

      Now we have the Mackenzie cell phone photos and I really cant wait to hear your thoughts.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Even in that interview… Willis is sort of ‘making things up’.
        He did NOT ‘talk with the crew’ that morning. He is
        describing the “We’ve got to get an anchor on this thing”
        conversation he says he had only with Eric Marsh at
        6:00 AM that morning. At 6:00 AM… Eric was already
        just outside of Prescott and headed south on Highway
        89 towards Yarnell… so that conversation was most
        assuredly on the cell phone that Eric most assuredly
        had with him all day that day.

        I am with you.
        WHERE is Eric Marsh’s cellphone now?

        Even if it was left there in the dirt by an incompetent
        bunch of people like other personal effects ( watch,
        sunglasses, etc. )… the area is still closed to the public
        as it has been ever since the incident and it should be
        able to be FOUND.

        PS: Check your gmail.

        • Marti Reed says

          My question at this point is, WHO. if anybody, is RESPONSIBLE for finding these things out?

          If the YCSO is only responsible for determining whether there was any “foul play” (which they determined there was not), and the SAIT was responsible for creating a narrative which was designed to not lay blame to anybody but only to have a conversation, it seems to me there is a HUGE gap here.

          I can’t figure out for the life of me, who is actually RESPONSIBLE for providing the evidence of what actually happened? Including what was on Eric’s cellphone, what were the radio communications, what was the “conversation about the options,” and who knows what else?

          “WHATEVER” seems the modus operandi here.

          The Forest Service needs to totally re-think its whole approach to catastrophes, in my humble opinion.

    • Robert the Second says


      After reading this, I’m compelled to rant for a bit here.

      Brendan’s comment regarding a radio tx between him and GMHS: “We can see what’s goin’ on… we want you to be safe, too, ya know.”

      Okay, so WHY do they still leave Brendan hanging out down there if that’s the case. They had a much better view of the fire then he did, they were done with their handline, there was no need to leave him there.

      Narrator “Brian Ross: Should THEY have left then, too?” (EMPHASIS ADDED) No, dumb-ass, they’re in really good black, much better than I was (GMHS lookout Brendan). That’s kinda what Brendan should have told him.

      Brendan waffles, “not my decision … I NEVER question the decisions they made. I NEVER questioned ‘em before… why should I question ‘em now.” (EMPHASIS ADDED). NOT questionning an order, especially the one to move and leave their SZ should have been questionned by SOMEONE; at a bare minimum, how about, why are we leaving our perfectly good SZ without posting a lookout?
      NEVER question? Sounds to me like the GMHS trained their people to be sheeple based on these answers.

      Brendan then says “It’s NOT their fault. It WASN’T a bad decision.” REALLY? WTF is that supposed to mean? WHOSE fault is it then? IT DIDN’T JUST HAPPEN, NOBODY forced them or made them do what they did. It was THEIR action(s) and decision, NOBODY ELSE’S, to leave the perfectly good black SZ during adverse weather and intense fire behavior resulted in their deaths. Notwithstanding miscalculating the fire’s ROS, direction, intensity, WHATEVER, it was a BAD DECISION WITH A BAD OUTCOME! AND it was not probability that killed them.

      Brendan McDonough the says: “There’s NOTHING I could have done besides have been up on the hill with them.” (EMPHASIS ADDED). NOTHING? Frisby said he had to tell the kid TWICE to get in the UTV because he wanted to hike up there to tie in with his Crew. See above for what could have been said, besides nothing.

      Brendan further said “To have been with them and died in my boots with ‘em. There’s nothing else I coulda done.” REALLY? NOTHING ELSE? How about speak up and say something based on your training maybe.

      And finally, he said, “I did everything that was expected of me.” REALLY? EVERYTHING? To me, this also suggests Groupthink. Is this what the GMHS EXPECTED of their WFF? Is that all, to obey blindly, without question? This actually mirrors a lot of what PFD Wildland Chief Willis said at the deployment site news conference, that he would have followed them “blindly,” that he “would have been right there with them.”

      This type of folderol and nonsense is NOT how you keep your WFF’s alive and safe. This IS and was very dangerous to think and talk like that and have that attitude toward a job – wildland firefighting – that is “inherently dangerous.”

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        RTS… thank you.

        You have to remember what the ‘atmosphere’ was like
        on August 7, 2013. The SAIR had just come out. The
        world was simply told 19 good men died just because
        there were some kind of radio problems that day.
        Ah. Ok. Explanation provided. They should fix that.
        End of story.

        Brendan had been given ‘permission’ ( he had his own
        personal attorney by then ) to do interviews but its also
        perfectly obvious what his ‘guidelines’ were from his
        attorney for any/all public interviews. Talk about where
        you were and what you did… but say NOTHING about
        what you might have heard over a radio and certainly
        say NOTHING about any ‘decisions’ that were made that

        SAIR was out… but ADOSH was still ‘at work’.

        I’m with you. I still think there are PLENTY of things this
        20th member of that Hotshot team could have done
        after he left his lookout post. The fact that none of those
        things occurred to him seems to confirm what other
        WFF folks have already said…. was that he was
        ‘too green’, too ‘inexperienced’ and/or ( most importantly )
        ‘too timid’ to have thought of those things or followed
        through on them.

        The fact that he had all the vehicles now and was the
        one responsible for matching them back up to the crew
        was reason enough to make much of an effort to be
        FULLY aware of EXACTLY what their plans were…
        which way they were coming… and what could he do to
        try and be sure they got mobile again wherever it was they
        were going to arrive.

        The fact that ( in his own words ) he was ‘on the other
        end of the fire’ and could see how it was moving MUCH
        faster than ANYONE expected even 30 minutes before
        hand… but felt no need to make sure his ‘brothers’
        knew that as well is… well… just rather odd, I think.

        “I wanted to just keep it short and simple”.

        No… I think it was more than that. He was too green and
        too timid to tie up the radio with any QUESTIONS of
        his own… no matter how important the answers were
        that day given the situation he was witnessing himself
        on the east end of the fire.

        He thought someone might get ‘mad at him’ if he
        inserted himself into any conversations. He didn’t
        ‘think it was his place’ to do that.

        Does anyone think if it had been Steed that accidentally
        got separated from ‘his brothers’ that Jesse would have
        been content to just sit right next to a radio and wait
        for someone to ‘tell him something’? No way. Jesse
        would have been all over that… finding out EXACTLY
        what the crew’s plans were ‘out there’ and where he
        needed to anticipate them arriving so he could meet them.

        So I think you are right. The situation with Brendan even
        believing “there’s nothing else I coulda done” belies some
        real training and/or culture issues on the part of the GM

        Have to stop here.

        Like you… just thinking once again about all the things
        that probably SHOULD have happened that afternoon
        but just damn didn’t ( like even ASM2 actually volunteering
        to go verify where they were at a crucial moment and
        being told ‘Ah… don’t worry about it’ ) is pissing me off
        all over again.

        If this entire Yarnell incident ( all 3 days ) really is the way
        people ( at all levels ) behave on Wildland fires I don’t know
        why we aren’t carting bodies off the field EVERY single fire

        • Robert the Second says


          “like even ASM2 actually volunteering to go verify where they were at a crucial moment and being told ‘Ah… don’t worry about it’ ”

          THEY WERE IN A PERFECTLY GOOD SZ. EVERYONE KNEW IT, EVEN THE GUYS IN THE HELMET CAM VIDEO CLIP KNEW IT, THEY ALL KNEW IT. OPS knew it and wasn’t concerned because no experienced WFF, much less a HS Crew, was going to be wandering around in the unburned during that kind of fire behavior ….

          Air support, tankers, helicopters, whatever, was NOT going to save them. And besides, it’s NOT their responsibility. It’s the supervisor and FF on the ground at the time that is responsible, following ‘The Rules.’

          • Marti Reed says


            Unless something in that conversation about their options, which for whatever mysterious reason just seems, for whatever mysterious reason, rather impossible to publicly document, shifted their brains from “no we are staying in the black,” as ordered/suggested by their superior on this fire, to getting up and moving out on a path that everybody, everywhere, understands as being the stupidest path ever chosen by a wildland fire-fighting team.

            There’s a huge black hole in this, in my humble opinion. We are six and a half months into wondering what has been wondered from the very start of this. And if nobody has anything to hide, why are they hiding it?

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              You would think… that if Brendan and
              Willis actually heard them say… “I
              don’t care what OPS1 says… OPS2
              wants our help… let’s go DO SOME

              …that they would be ‘gagging’ to
              publish that. It makes them look
              ( to some people ) even more
              heroic than those same people
              already assume they were.

              The lawsuit results following that
              kind of admission would be
              another story, of course… but
              something tells me that isn’t
              all this reluctance to tell the
              truth is all about.

              Maybe it’s the fear of people
              discovering the anti-hero.
              Maybe the conversation was more
              along the lines of “I don’t care if
              Yarnell burns to the f**king ground
              at this point… let’s just get out of
              here and go home.” or something
              like that.

              It really, truly is a mystery that begs
              to be solved.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Geez… I’m not going to go there again. Read
            back on the thread if you really want my
            opinion on that sort of ‘everyone knew it’
            thing. ASM2 did NOT KNOW IT! The poor
            guy just arrived on the fire… heard something
            about a crew in a safety zone ( or headed
            towards one, or something ) and he just
            wanted to go check on them. That’s all.
            It was a simple request. If he had been
            allowed to fulfill it… those men would
            probably be with us today. That’s all I
            have ever been trying to say about that.

            • Robert the Second says


              “‘ASM2 did NOT KNOW IT! … heard something about a crew in a safety zone ( or headed towards one, or something ) and he just wanted to go CHECK ON THEM. That’s all.

              It was a simple request. IF HE HAD BEEN ALLOWED TO FULFILL IT … THESE MEN WOULD BE WITH US TODAY.” (emphasis added)

              So, it seems you make a bit of a leap here, from ‘checking on them’ to actually saving them. How was it again the ASM2 was going to make a difference or save these guys?

    • jeff i says

      I have a hard time getting the idea that Brendan is REFUSING to answer details about the options conversation from this transcript. I think what he is doing is refusing to second guess the decision, and he is doing this out of respect for his brothers.

  29. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Joy A Collura post on January 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    >> On January 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm, WantsToKnowTheTruth asked…
    >> Joy… A quick question for you…
    >> Do you know who actually OWNS the “Double Bar A Ranch” up in
    >> Peeples valley? It used to be called the ‘Hays Ranch’ but changed
    >> hands in a ‘brokered deal’ circa 2009.
    >> Joy Collura responded…
    >> Been years since I was up to date so by going on thought… little over a
    >> million for appx 150+ acres; Dunlap family from Paradise Valley…
    >> …but maybe if you call Christina Cooper the local Yarnell librarian she can
    >> better assist this as she has patrons in all the time that CAN answer this
    >> (928) 427-3191 or google county assessor and go that route or Buford I
    >> mentioned on here knows a lot of people there in Yarnell.

    Thank you again, Joy!

    That seems to be exactly it. The Dunlaps ( Charles and Barbara ).

    ** Double Bar A Ranch Real Estate Transaction Listing

    PUBLIC ZILLOW Real Estate listing…

    18000 W Double Bar A Ranch R, , AZ
    Not for Sale
    Zestimate: $1,096,895
    Rent Zestimate: $2,477/mo
    Est. Refi Payment: $4,304/mo
    Bedrooms:Contact for details
    Bathrooms:Contact for details
    Single Family:2,765 sq ft
    Lot:153 acres
    Year Built:1980
    Last Sold:Aug 2009 for $1,100,000
    Heating Type:Contact for details
    This is a 2765 square foot, single family home.
    It is located at 18000 W DOUBLE BAR A RANCH R , Arizona.

    18000 W Double Bar A Ranch R, , AZ, is a single family home
    of 2,765 sqft on a lot of 6,664,680 sqft (or 153.00 acres). Zillow’s
    Zestimate® for 18000 W Double Bar A Ranch R is $1,096,895 and
    the Rent Zestimate® is $2,477/mo. This single family home was
    built in 1980. Glen Ilah is a nearby neighborhood. The closest ZIP
    codes are 86320 and 85362. Packer, Lehman Mill, and Humbug
    are the nearest cities.


    Dunlap, Mr. Charles H.
    Dunlap, Mrs. Charles H. (Barbara Baur);
    Double Bar A Ranch, P.O. Box 338, Yarnell, AZ 85362

    ** Arizona Department of Agriculture – Registered Cattle Brands – 2013

    Arizona Cattle Brand#,Owner, Page, Pos.

    Details on Arizona Cattle Brand# 07899
    P O BOX 338, YARNELL, AZ 85362
    H: RS C: RS
    Ears: NO
    Brand is an EQUALS SIGN over CAPITAL LETTER ‘A’.


    9. DUNLAP, CHARLES H (Age 69)

    Associated names and/or aliases…


    Possible Employment / Business Associations:


    Previous places of residence… ( 4 available )…


    Possible Relatives:


    Possible Other Relatives and/or Business Associates:

    DUNLAP, LILY C (Age 37)
    DUNLAP, JOHN T (Age 63)
    DUNLAP, MOLLY (Age 44)

    • Joy A Collura says

      Wow. I only know what I know because I may hike the highways at times but I am strictly the desert walker and so I have to know my areas out there so when I want to explore “new” areas outside Congress, I search for what is private, state and BLM and than I go asking for my written permission papers to cross those private lands as I am always up-to-date on my other permits always. Wow, there it goes to show you—top notch memory—I love when I think I am not sure becomes a certainty—thank you for the update of looking into it.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        No… thank YOU again, Joy.

        The real-estate transaction was ‘brokered’ ( third party )
        so until I had an idea of a name it was not easy to match
        the real-estate deal with the purchasers. Thanks.

        There is still quite a mystery surrounding certain activities
        up there at the “Double Bar A Ranch” that day.

        The biggest one, really, is how we got from Darrell Willis
        doing structure protection assessments overnight up
        in that area and making notes that the “Double Bar A
        Ranch” was ‘not defensible’…

        …to massive resources being used to try to ‘defend’
        it early the next morning ( 30+ firefighters + multiple
        engines ).

        In the end… Darrell Willis was right… the vegetation was
        too thick, too tall, and too close to the structures for the
        site to be ‘defensible’… and the ranch was lost… but
        that still doesn’t explain WHO decided to spend all
        those resources trying to save it when Willis himself,
        who was in charge of that area, had decided the night
        before that it would NOT be worth it.

  30. Marti Reed says

    Regarding Eric Marsh’s Cellphone

    “When you have eliminated the impossible…whatever remains…however improbable…must be the truth” –WTKTE

    * It just disappeared into the ozone
    * He didn’t have one.
    * He didn’t use one.
    * He was borrowing one.
    Possible, but he would have to have borrowed it all day, which is improbable.

    Remains Probable
    * He was using one, occasionally at least, all day
    * He only used it for “business”
    I read the GMHS Manual. There were very clear rules for using cellphones.
    * He, thus, had one in his possession when he reached the site.
    * He could have put it in his pack. Which I have no idea where that landed. However…
    * He probably carried it in his shirt pocket. From other photo evidence, and makes sense in regards to availability.
    * It was somewhere near him when he died.
    * He did not “successfully” deploy.
    * It was therefore on the Deployment Site that night.
    Improbable that someone found it in the dark that night.
    * It was therefore on the Deployment Site the next morning July 1.
    See above.
    * YCSO didn’t find it directly associated with his body July 1.
    * Thusly YCSO didn’t remove it from the site July 1 and take it the Medical Examiners Office in Phoenix.
    * Therefore, it would have been on the site until the time of the SAIT Investigation July 3, unless someone had spotted it and had the motive and ability to remove it between July 1 and July 3.
    * During the SAIT investigation, it was never numbered and photographed (and neither was Chris MacKenzie’s Powershot Camera which was sitting between two numbered and photographed radios)
    * During the SAIT investigation it was never photographed associated with any personal items that were numbered and photographed. (As also was not done with Chris MacKenzie’s camera, since apparently neither the YCSO or the SAIT saw it).
    Unless it was the cellphone I noticed looking like a cellphone associated with a numbered and photographed radio associated with what I now think may have been a pack outside the Deployment Area. However that radio was not Eric Marsh’s. I think that cellphone must have been Clayton Witted’s, even tho it doesn’t fit the description PFD gave it as being “burned to a pack.” It wasn’t. It was just lying there.
    * Thus, it was not removed from the site by the YCSO after the SAIT investigation.
    * Thus it was never entered into “Evidence” by the YCSO.
    *Thus, if it hadn’t been removed from the site previously, it must have been left on the site after the SAIT investigation. (As was Chris MacKenzie’s camera, which was picked up by PFD during their later clearing of the site, and never reported to the YCSO, and thus never entered into “Evidence.” And which PFD went to serious lengths to return to Chris MacKenzie’s father while keeping it out of the chain of evidence.)
    * Eric’s cellphone has, even though it has been reported that he used one that day, not been reported as existing in this situation by SAIT, PFD or any other agency associated with this investigation.
    * The site may have not been completely cleared. In an article (, dated January 2, 2014, on the website, it is written about Roxanne Warneke, wife of William Warneke:
    “It had been two days since Roxanne had buried her husband.”
    “She and her father had looked at a topographic map of the area, trying to understand what happened. But Roxanne wanted to go there, to see it for herself. Billy’s brothers, Fred and David; his sister, Melinda; his mother; and his great-aunt came, too.”
    “She walked slowly, dragging the toe of her shoe across the ground, turning over the layers of blackened earth.
    Tiny rivets.
    A screw. A bolt.
    A melted watch face.”
    “Fred picked up a pair of melted sunglasses and showed them to Roxanne. She shook her head. No, those weren’t Billy’s. He wore black Oakleys.”
    * Thus, Eric’s cellphone could have been smushed into the ground or something, and nobody saw it, and might even be there today.
    * Or somebody could have seen it during all these days, or when PFD entered the site after the SAIT investigation, and decided to pick it up.
    * PFD demonstrated factually that it was willing and capable of going to some lengths to suppress evidence (re. the whereabouts of Chris MacKenzies Canon Powershot camera), when it deemed it in their best interests to do so.

    And so there you have my description of the impossible and the possible and whatever remains in the quest to determine the truth.

    • Bob Powers says

      Marti –A question
      My thoughts were cell phones issued to certain supervisors like Marsh by PFD? There on call and would have PFD numbers to contact each other. The reason I am going there If the phone was found in the clean up like the camera and belonged to PFD they may have Just kept it. Just a little peace of the puzzle. If it was found and was Marsh’s it could have been given to his wife.
      Or it may have not survived the Fire……

      • Joy A Collura says

        it truly does not matter if it survives or not-
        I just learned from Diamond today who handed me to a Verizon tech kinda guy who knew I was inquiring if there is any possible records kept for my throw away phones from Verizon and guess what he walked me through today on all text, photo texts, incoming and outgoing calls for that 6-30-13 and a phone burnt or not—there IS trackable records for ALL calls and texts made with Verizon throw away phone or not. In our talk he also had to evacuate from a fire where he is from and he really helped me walk through that morning on any information that regarded my Verizon accounts SOOOO this could be done for ANY of the 19 men if it GIVES CLARITY as well as well as phone records to many other areas for that Yarnell fire including Model Creek phone system & etc. We over here strongly believe the phone records would give better clarity.
        I hope one day more families do ask the phone company to do what I did today and get the important details to get clarity—

      • Marti Reed says

        That’s an interesting idea. I don’t know. That might have been the case that Eric was using a cellphone not owned by him, but by the PFD.

        The GM Hotshots manual is very specific about “rules” for using cellphones. “Personal” usage of cellphones is only allowed during breaks and not during active fire work. There is nothing in their manual about using a cellphone for “professional” usage. I’ve been “assuming” Eric’s usage of a cellphone, whether or not it was “his” or not, and it looks like he was following that protocol during the day of June 30, was “professional,” not “personal.” But I hadn’t even contemplated the possibility that he was using a cellphone not owned by himself. I have no idea how to find out if the cellphone he was using was owned by the PFD or him.

        If it was “owned” by PFD, it might make sense that, if they had found it on the site, they may have considered it “their property,” thus justifiably determined by them to do whatever they would decide to do with it.

        And, as I have demonstrated, the PFD was willing and capable to withhold evidence.

        If it wasn’t their cellphone, and they did find it and remove it from their site, I have no idea whether or not it was given back to Amanda Marsh. I really don’t know what was done with all these cellphones. I haven’t seen any documentation anywhere.

      • Marti Reed says

        I just spent about an hour doing a google search to see if I could find anything about PFD issuing PFD cellphones. I haven’t found anything. I’m not sure how to go further from here.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          It would be in the detailed budget documents
          and red sheets for the Prescott Fire Department.
          Public documents… but not currently online
          at the Prescott Clerk’s office.

          I actually really DOUBT that there would be
          ‘cellphones’, complete with voice and data
          contracts, being ‘owned and issued’ by the
          Prescott Fire Department.

          It would be unusual.

          It MIGHT have been part of Marsh’s personal
          contract with PFD ( that they would pay for
          his cellphone bills )… but I still think the phone
          itself would be in HIS name with local carrier.

  31. Bob Powers says

    I would say that Jeff was the one that jumped when he should have looked a prior evidence. Brendan has stated he was in the supt. truck listening to the crew and heard the discussion to leave the black. but has not said what he heard. The pictures confirm the time he first got in the truck and the time he was in the truck. He was in a crew carrier at the at the parking lot probably the one he always road in. He was still listening to the radio. plus he had a portable. If your crew was out there you would be keeping up with them the whole time. He was waiting to find out what he needed to do with the trucks.
    They were talking on the inter-crew and he heard everything. So what did he hear? is the question not weather he was listening.

    • jeff i says

      What I was saying is “that a photograph is not proof that someone heard anything”. All it is proof of is ” that they where in the position to hear something”

      How do you know he has not told all that he heard when he says he heard them discussing their options? Where is he refusing to say more?

      • Marti Reed says

        I’ve changed my mind about you. Thank you for being here. Your contributions to this conversation are absolutely priceless.

      • Bob Powers says

        He made the statements in the investigations and to the media but has said nothing else. Or the first investigation did not ask him for the rest of the story. It is some what confusing I agree and as I said the picture puts him in a place after the ATV ride soon enough to back the claim he made.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to jeff i post on January 17, 2014 at 9:08 am

        >> jeff i said…
        >> What I was saying is “that a photograph is not proof
        >> that someone heard anything”. All it is proof of is ”
        >> that they where in the position to hear something”

        You know what… you are RIGHT. Everyone has their own
        ideas about what ‘convincing’ evidence is. In my profession
        there are actually many, many levels above ‘absolute’ but
        sometimes I forget that when speaking in public… so I
        should be more careful when using that word.

        The absolute ‘absolute’ proof in the 3 McDonough Highway
        89 pictures can, in fact, simply be constrained to what you
        and I have both said now. It is only ‘absolute’ proof that he
        was in a perfect position to have heard everything he has
        already told two sets of investigators he heard.

        He was not outdoors and away from a radio.
        He was not ‘going to the bathroom’.
        He was sitting in a vehicle just driving along with a radio
        that was tuned to the exact right channel and with
        the volume turned way UP ( His own statements ).

        Okay… that being said… moving on…

        >> jeff i also said…
        >> How do you know he has not told all that he heard
        >> when he says he heard them discussing their
        >> options?

        Umm… because we probably wouldn’t even be here
        trying to find out if he had ( or not )… if he had and
        it was incorporated into the results of the investigation?

        >> Where is he refusing to say more?

        Please go watch Brendan’s multiple video interviews
        following the release of the SAIR report. Watch what
        happens when he is asked to say more about those
        moments and the conversations that the SAIR already
        says he heard. He refuses.

        Your turn to answer a question…

        Do you HONESTLY believe a bunch of highly paid
        investigators verified that he heard his Supervisor and
        his Captain ‘discussing their options’ about leaving
        the ‘safe black’ that day…

        …and then they simply ‘moved on’ without ASKING him
        any other questions or pressing him for details?

        Please be honest.

        • jeff i says

          OK, I watched two videos and neither of them asked Brendan to elaborate on those moments, perhaps you know of one off the top of your head??

          Since their are no transcripts of the interviews, only notes, its impossible to say what was asked and answered. Yes, I would assume that they would have delved into that, but maybe not. Or maybe he said he couldn’t recall the details and they left it at what they show in the notes. We don’t know. But if he had REFUSED to answer a question, I think they would have noted that.

          • Bob Powers says

            While you may not believe this the SAIT had a non accusatory investigation they were not looking for actions responsible for the fatality information gathering. Also if Willis and Brendan had talked prior to the investigation and decided to pull the I don’t remember the radio conversation in any detail. Any thing is possible. The State investigation could have been more through but that also was hindered by refusals to make statements. So the facts are he said he heard the discussion to leave the black. He has not said what that discussion was and who was in it. He also had the opportunity to be listening to the crew as they came off the hill did he hear any thing? No one has asked him and he is not saying.
            As an X investigator Deputy Sheriff that leaves a lot of questions I would like to ask that no body else did or was not recorded if they did.
            The SAIT was charged with not finding fault and there for avoiding a lawsuit.
            That’s why there is no violation of any thing an act of god weather and radio traffic everyone did everything right and 19 Fire Fighters DIED…….

  32. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to jeff i post on January 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Re: Brendan McDonough’s Highway 89 photos circa 4:02 PM

    >> jeff i wrote…
    >> How can a still photograph be as you said “absolute proof that
    >> Brendan McDonough MUST have heard ALL the critical ‘discussing
    >> their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions”?
    >> Maybe their was other radio traffic
    >> Maybe the crew freq was set to low power
    >> Maybe the FM radio was blasting Katie Perry

    ::: and Maybe Brendan McDonough lied to SAIT investigators?…

    Page 24 of the SAIR…

    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.

    Page 42 of the SAIT investigation notes…

    Blue Ridge Supt advised to Steed fire conditions and asks if they have
    good black. Steed says yes they have good black and can see the fire.
    Blue Ridge says they will move their trucks and have Brendan with them.
    They got back to trucks seem a little more hurried at this point. Blue Ridge
    supt is going to get some drivers. I (Brendan) started the truck, turned on the
    AC and made sure the truck radios were on the right Channel and VOLUME UP.

    ::: and Maybe Brendan McDonough lied to the ADOSH investigators AND the
    ::: Wildland Firefighters Associates group specifically hired by Arizona ADOSH
    ::: to do their own investigation?…

    Page 15 of ADOSH contracted Wildland Firefighters Associates Report (WFAR)

    At 1555, fire was burning along the ridge north of Yarnell. The SPGS1 lost
    use of an air-to-ground radio frequency, and communication was interrupted.
    The BRIHC Superintendent dropped the GM Lookout off at the GMIHC
    Superintendents truck. The GMIHC crew carriers were moved. On the GMIHC
    intracrew frequency, GM Lookout heard the DIVS A and GMIHC Captain
    discussing the options of whether to stay in the black or to move (Footnote 5).
    Footnote (5) From ADOSH Interview with GM Lookout ( Brendan McDonough )

    So YES… Brendan MUST have heard the conversations because he SAYS
    he did ( unless you are saying you think he lied to all these investigators ).

    Look… we left ‘absolute proof’ behind on this one a LOOONG time ago.

    Brendan McDonough SAYS that he DID hear these crucial conversations.

    The only mystery ( even now ) is WHAT he heard and WHY he refuses
    to talk about it. What is he trying to hide? Who is he trying to protect?

    With regards to the new photographic evidence showing (absolutely) WHERE
    Brendan was when he ( by his own admission already ) heard these crucial
    conversations… I would think I could have gone a few levels above adjectives
    like ‘absolute’… whatever those might be.

    >> At any rate a picture does not prove anyone heard anything.

    Actually… sometimes it CAN. In this case… even without the photos
    proving (absolutely) WHERE he was when he heard these conversations,
    we’d have to start using a whole lot of other words in association with
    his name to change phrases like “he absolutely heard the conversations.”

    >> You should really slow down with the “absolute” tone you so often use.
    >> Try the word “may” every once in a while.

    Fair enough. I *may* consider doing that in the future when I am not really,
    really, really pretty (absolutely) certain about what the evidence is telling me.

  33. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Now that we can finally see ALL of Brendan McDonough’s photos
    and videos… here’s some breakdown on just the ones that
    show him driving the GM Supervisor Truck ( by himself, alone )
    north on Highway 89 at exactly 4:02 PM.

    I am talking about just photos 19, 20, and 21 in this folder
    Dropbox: Brendan McDonough Photos

    These photos alone are pretty much absolute proof that
    Brendan McDonough MUST have heard ALL the critical ‘discussing
    their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions that took place
    over the GM intra-crew frequency that afternoon.

    He wasn’t outside anywhere. He wasn’t off going to the
    bathroom. He was sitting RIGHT THERE in the GM Supervisor
    truck, all by himself, and just listening to these conversations
    over the onboard radio as they happened.

    These ‘Highway 89’ photos ALSO prove that the witness who
    saw him leaving the Sesame Area to the south through
    Glen Ilah appears to be correct. Brendan did NOT wait for
    the BR crew members to come get the Crew Carriers before
    he left the Sesame area. He also did NOT ‘follow them over’
    to the Shrine area via the cutover trail He left the Sesame area
    by himself in the GM Supervisor Truck.

    It is not clear where Brendan is actually GOING as he
    travels north on Highway 89 at this point. It might be assumed
    that he was headed over to the ‘yourth camp’ out west on
    Shrine Road where Blue Ridge was ‘staging’ and from where
    the BR Convoy would eventually leave… but there is still
    no photographic evidence that the GM Supervisor Truck
    ever made it over there or was part of the ‘Convoy’ that
    left from there. If he really was headed there… then according
    to the time on these photos, his location, and his very slow
    rate of speed… by the time he got to the ‘youth camp’ Blue
    Ridge would have been LEAVING that location already and
    Frisby would have just told him to immediately turn around
    and go back to the Ranch House Restaurant.

    Brendan took THREE photos within 2 seconds of each other
    starting at 4:02 PM + 4 seconds out of the driver’s side window
    and looking northwest towards the Weaver Mountains and the exact
    spot where GM had been working all day.

    IMPORTANT: 4:02 PM is the exact time that Christopher
    MacKenzie was shooting one of his videos out at the ‘resting spot’
    up on the western ridge.

    Again… there is NO DOUBT now about EXACTLY where Brendan
    was, and what he was actually doing, at the exact moment
    the ‘discussing their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions
    were taking place over the GM intra-crew frequency.

    Brendan was right here in the GM Supervisor truck, alone,
    heading north on Highway 89 and hearing ALL of those
    critical conversations over the onboard radio.

    If Brendan had shot a ‘movie’ with his Samsung SCH-1535
    instead of taking 3 still photos just seconds apart at
    that point… we would probably have a video that either
    captures the same radio traffic Christopher MacKenzie
    did… OR we would have MORE of that radio traffic captured.

    NOTE: Notice that Brendan’s Samsumg SCH-1535
    stamps all the photo names like this…

    YEAR + MONTH + DAY (underscore) HOUR + MIN + SEC

    So there is actually no reason to go the trouble of extracting
    the metadata to get the exact TIME. Its already in the name.

    ** Photo: 20130630_160204 ( 19 of 21 in Dropbox folder )

    Metadata ( partial )…

    Camera: Samsung SCH-I535
    Lens: 3.7 mm (Max aperture f/2.6) (shot wide open)
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Aperture-priority AE, 1/310 sec, f/2.6, ISO 80
    Flash: none
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 4:02:04 PM
    File: 2,448 × 3,264 JPEG (8.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 93%

    This is the first of three photos of him driving along on
    Highway 89 ( alone? ) in the GM Supervisor Truck.

    He took the picture while driving out the driver’s side
    window looking almost due north towards the Weaver
    Mountains where GM had been working all day.

    He has (apparently) just exited the Sesame area via
    Lakewood Drive in Glen Ilah… and took a left turn
    off Lakewood onto Highway 89 and is now heading north
    on Highway 89.

    He is only about 100 feet south of where Fountainhill
    Road meets Highway 89. He would have still been
    able to see the Ranch House Restaurant in his
    rear view mirror.

    He is exactly here…

    34.215760, -112.754336

    ** Photo: 20130630_160206 ( 20 of 21 in Dropbox folder )

    Metadata ( partial )…

    Camera: Samsung SCH-I535
    Lens: 3.7 mm (Max aperture f/2.6) (shot wide open)
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Aperture-priority AE, 1/241 sec, f/2.6, ISO 80
    Flash: none
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 4:02:06 PM
    File: 2,448 × 3,264 JPEG (8.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 93%

    This was taken just 2 seconds after the previous photo.
    He is now at the exact point there Fountainhill Road
    meets Highway 89 and still heading north.

    He is now exactly here…

    34.216033, -112.753974

    He has only advanced 42 feet in 2 seconds which would
    make his approximate rate of travel since taking the
    first picture just 14.3 miles per hour.

    ** Photo: 20130630_160208 ( 21 of 21 in Dropbox folder )

    Metadata ( partial )…

    Camera: Samsung SCH-I535
    Lens: 3.7 mm (Max aperture f/2.6) (shot wide open)
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Aperture-priority AE, 1/219 sec, f/2.6, ISO 80
    Flash: none
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 4:02:08 PM
    File: 2,448 × 3,264 JPEG (8.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 93%

    This was (again) taken just 2 seconds after the previous photo.
    He is now just beyond the point where Fountainhill Road
    meets Highway 89. He is still heading north on Highway 89.

    He is now exactly here…

    34.216151, -112.753797

    He has only traveled 210 feet since he took the first
    picture in this sequence which makes his approximate
    travel rate during the 6 seconds it took to take all
    three of these pictures just 23.86 miles per hour.

    • jeff i says

      How can a still photograph be as you said “absolute proof that
      Brendan McDonough MUST have heard ALL the critical ‘discussing
      their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions”?

      Maybe their was other radio traffic
      Maybe the crew freq was set to low power
      Maybe the FM radio was blasting Katie Perry

      At any rate a picture does not prove anyone heard anything. You should really slow down with the “absolute” tone you so often use. Try the word “may” every once in a while.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to jeff i post on January 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

        >> Maybe their was other radio traffic
        >> Maybe the crew freq was set to low power
        >> Maybe the FM radio was blasting Katie Perry

        And maybe someone who had just told both his Captain
        and his Supervisor that he would be ‘standing by’
        to hear from them and to just “Call me if you need
        anything” and who was now solely responsible for the
        Crew Vehicles and was going to need to hear at any
        moment what he was supposed to do now and how he
        would get the vehicles back together with his entire crew
        just turned ALL the radios OFF and just popped in the
        heavy metal CDs.

        I really doubt it.
        Don’t you?

        • jeff i says

          I doubt it too, but why say “absolute” when you really can’t prove it? You would gain credibility if you had said “we have some proof that he may have heard”.

          When you continue to use the “absolute” tone it just shows your bias.

          The investigation is interesting enough, you really don’t need to inset the drama.

        • Marti Reed says

          You have just fucking got to be kidding me.

          There I said it.

          This young man’s life stands to be poisoned forever by what he is holding inside. And that’s what you have to say, “Maybe he was listening to Katie Perry”??????

          Give me a friggin break.

            • Marti Reed says

              No, your point didn’t go right over my head. I’m quite a bit more intelligent than that.

              I think my point missed your soul.

              I know exactly what you’re thinking you’re so cooly intelligent to say.

              This young man was out there, essentially alone, wishing above all else that he was with his bros, who had essentially brought him back from the living dead by some stroke of luck, paying attention to his sup’s truck’s radio, because he said he would, and taking pictures in the direction of where they were, waiting to hear next what his sup and crew needed him to do. You bet he heard everything.

              And then that world collapsed around him in a ring of fire.

              And then somebody, some lawyer, (because the lawyers of course were on him IMMEDIATELY, or are you so innocent to not believe that was the case) probably the next day, or maybe even earlier, HAD to have told him, “Don’t say anything. You didn’t hear anything. Got it?” Because that’s the way this sh*t goes down. And if you don’t know that, you’re not even half as smart as you apparently think you are.

              Do you even remotely have the slightest idea what that can do to somebody???

              So I say to you Mr. Prove It With Evidence, prove me wrong.

              Prescott Fire Department, i.e. here’s looking at you Chief Willis, PROVED itself willing and able to withhold evidence (even when it required turning stories into pretzels) vis a vis the case of Chris MacKenzie’s camera, which I proved with evidence.

              You, sir, aren’t as smart as you think you are. And I’m not as dumb as you think I am. Not even remotely.

    • Marti Reed says

      Thanks! I figured you’d find those pictures as interesting as I did, and would be able to tell me where that sign was a lot faster than I could figure it out, since I really couldn’t read it. And I kinda lolled when you told me that was the Ranch House Cafe. Like, OMG how could I have missed that!

      This is also so very sad. I just want to tell him, “Come on Brendan, just tell the truth. Either way is difficult, for sure, but what you aren’t sharing is going to poison your life forever if you keep trying to keep it inside.”

      That’s the way it always works. Always.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Marti… just to be clear… the Ranch House Restaurant
        is not any of the buildings in the photos. Those buildings
        are just on the west side of Highway 89 kind ‘across’
        from the Ranch House Restaurant.

        The Ranch House Restaurant ( or simply cafe’, as the
        even the SAIR has referred to it ) is simply behind him
        at that point, on the EAST side of Highway 89.

        I also think that Brendan himself thinks he is ‘doing the
        right thing’ by not telling all he knows. Joining GM wasn’t
        just a job to him. He’s one of those guys that finds the
        whole WFF thing a ‘life changing experience’. Brendan
        was even baptized by one of the other GM guys just a
        few weeks before this incident. He actually thinks he’s
        being ‘loyal to his brothers’ ( and has even put it that
        way in other interviews ) and ‘loyal to the brotherhood
        of WFF’ in general by not telling the whole truth.

        He’s young. He’ll learn.

        He won’t be able to take the 5th if he’s called to the
        stand in any legal proceeding, and the ‘loyal to my
        brothers and the brotherhood’ thing won’t go too
        far in court, either.

        “I don’t remember” is still a valid answer.
        Maybe he doesn’t.
        The odd thing is that he’s had every opportunity to say
        that that is the truth and he won’t say that, either.

        • Marti Reed says

          Thx for the info on the Ranch House. I periodically thought I should go in in Google Earth and tag it but I hadn’t gotten there, And I had always pictured it in my head on the east side of 89, but when you wrote that and it looked like the building I”d seen in the photos, I thought maybe I’d had it wrong. So thanx for clearing that up.

          About Brendan. Yes, I understand his relationship with the crew (see my rant just above). And why he might think he’s protecting their honor by not being more forthright.

          The thing is this. The Forest Service Service this spring just put out this awesome video about the South Canyon Fire. The central point of the whole video was that, when crews go through these traumatic events, they need to be able to talk honestly about them. Otherwise, it can really screw them up for a long long time. (Which is why, frankly and obviously, the Forest Service is in a really schizy place right now, as evidenced by this SAIT).

          I think it’s really important that we just published the truth about Branden’s whereabouts during that time. And it’s not just that he’s been silent about his whereabouts, he’s actually lied about them. Seriously.

          When I saw the interview with the Courier, his eyes were darting around about five miles an hour every time he talked about this time. That’s not what people do when they’re truly remembering things. That’s what people do when they’re trying to remember what they think they need to say.

          I know the FS has been putting all kinds of people into this to help them cope with it. I also know the Prescott Fire Department is concealing evidence, including what was said during this conversation.

          This has to be putting Brendan under ENORMOUS pressure. When somebody who has contributed nothing to this whole effort here just drops by to belittle what we are revealing here, it just goes to show how little some people and some agencies regard the lives of their people who were lost here, and the seriousness of of our efforts to wrestle the truth of all of the lies that have been told about what happened in this disaster.

          Namaste and thanks for all your work!

          • mike says

            Marti –

            For someone who started out feeling insecure about posting because you were afraid you would be attacked, you seem to have recovered nicely. Somehow I doubt you were ever the shrinking violet type.

            Best not to grade the contributions of those posting here. Even those who are just questioning the assertions others are making might be making a very valuable contribution.

  34. Marti Reed says

    I just came across something. I was looking at the page on Wildfire Today that has the Granite Mountain Hotshots 2012 video, which I realized I HAD seen but it hurt so much to watch it (it really is an awesome video) that I hadn’t watched it again.

    In the comments section there’s a Joy/Sonny comment that includes this:
    “…in the area GMHS crew, Eric Marsh and the mystery man in Joy’s photos with Eric Marsh still never no one has come forward naming themselves they are that person with Eric and not in the reports that I have seen yet…”

    Can anybody tell me what this refers to?

    The page is here:

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Joy Collura has always said that she saw ( and photographed )
      Eric Marsh talking with an as-yet unidentified person out on
      the ridge. She mentioned this in pretty much the very first
      comment she ever posted online the day the SAIR report
      came out.

      I (personally) have never seen the actual photograph she took
      of this ‘mystery person’. It was not part of her public ‘Zazzle’
      page where Joy has posted hundreds of other photographs
      she has taken relating to this incident.

      I don’t think we ever heard of an exact TIME on that photo, either.

      I think I asked her if the fellow might have had a BLUE helmet
      on ( which might make it part of the face-to-face between
      Marsh/Steen Blue Ridge SUP Frisby and BR Capt Brown
      that happened from NOON to 12:30 up there )… but I don’t
      think I ever heard back about that.

      That’s all I know.

      • Marti Reed says

        Thanks. They had sent me a link to their private Google + account, so, after I read that, I went into it (I actually hadn’t done that til today) and looked around. There are some pictures of Rence etc meeting (I think) with somebody/somebodies near the dozer, and maybe closer to the buggies. But I didn’t see anybody talking with Eric. I may email them and ask them a little bit more. They seemed pretty intense about this.

      • says

        on January 16, 2014 at 4:21 pm said:

        Joy Collura has always said that she saw ( and photographed )
        Eric Marsh talking with an as-yet unidentified person out on
        the ridge. She mentioned this in pretty much the very first
        comment she ever posted online the day the SAIR report
        came out.====REPLY:

        I (personally) have never seen the actual photograph she took
        page where Joy has posted hundreds of other photographs


        I think I asked her if the fellow might have had a BLUE helmet
        on ( which might make it part of the face-to-face between
        Marsh/Steen Blue Ridge SUP Frisby and BR Capt Brown
        that happened from NOON to 12:30 up there )… but I don’t

        That’s all I know.

        • Marti Reed says

          Thank you SO MUCH JOY!!!!! I’m so glad you caught this here.

          I started looking thru your photos yesterday. I even have the pages still open on my imac here. I couldn’t see what you were asking about, so it really helps to know. I would like to download the photo and look at it in detail, and I may be able to enhance it. BUT I need to DOWNLOAD it, not SAVE AS it, because saving a photo from Google + causes it to reduce in size and strip the metadata from it (I learned that the hard way when I was downloading Elizabeth’s YCSO photos of the SAIT investigation of the Deployment Site. And I can’t DOWNLOAD it if the default settings are not changed to make it possible for me. I don’t know how you do that on Google + because I don’t use Google +. But when I told Elizabeth about the problem, she emailed me to tell me she had “changed the settings” so I could DOWNLOAD the photos.

          And PS I also saw the verizon phone pictures that you are emaling me this morning about. I have them open also.

          I’m guessing what WTKTT is saying about that being Frisbee or Trew is probably correct. But I definitely want to check it out.

          Hope you have time to read the conversation going on below about the Brendan McDonough photos and what they are telling us. It’s a blockbuster.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Marti… if the time on the ‘Mystery Man’ photo
            is circa 9:40 to 10:00 AM ish… then it could
            not be any member of the Blue Ridge
            Hotshot crew ( Blue helmets that day with
            Frisby wearing a ball cap ).

            Only possibility there, I suppose, is if the
            BR dozer guy ( Ball? ) actually went all the
            way up there to talk to Marsh before he got
            to work with the dozer down near the
            old-grader location.

            • Marti Reed says

              I’m working on it. Also in convo w/joy/sunny via email. i have to dash out now and run across town to pick up an insulin prescription I deperately need. They are really really tiny in the photo and I can’t figure out how to download it. Thanks to Google +. Same problem I originally had withe Elizabeth’s photos.

              And I’m halfway through figuring out the timestamp problem.

              When her cellphone said it was 2:30 pm, her camera said it was 1:55 AM.

              But I’ve really got to go.

            • says

              actually doubt it was Blue Ridge—they came into view later in the morning to us. The yellow and white helicopter possibly flew someone in for a briefing with Marsh or someone was already up there. I just am floored that 2 reports surfaced as investigative but no mention of it even though I question that from day one because WHO ARE YOU with Marsh and how come you have never been discussed anywhere or in the investigative reports—were you not suppose to be there and we just happen to see you—it is stuff like this that bothers us because 100% transparency and time stamping needs to be done- simple as that- on this weekend. Forgetting to mention things —not good because when the time comes if my other sd card is recovered or the people finally share you will feel foolish whoever placed the report as it stands and than strongly accept it and stand by it. You were better off not guesstimating in which is how I saw it in some areas.

                • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                  Marti… Sonny/Joy might
                  be right. The ‘MysteryMan’
                  might have something
                  to do with the yellow
                  helicopter. Joy HAS, in
                  fact, published a number
                  of photos of that yellow
                  chopper ‘lifting’ things
                  out of the helispot area that morning. So either GM crew were helping to attach things to that tow line… or the chopper landed at some point and a helitack crew person was on the ground there in that area near Marsh for awhile that morning.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Joy… thank you again! ( ongoing thanks! ).

          I will find that picture and I will enhance it as best
          as possible to see if that ‘Mystery Man’ can be

          A quick question for you…

          Do you know who actually OWNS the “Double Bar
          A Ranch” up in Peeples valley?

          It used to be called the “Hays Ranch” but changed
          hands in a brokered deal around 2009 or so.

          • says

            on January 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm said:

            Joy… thank you again! ( ongoing thanks! ).
            ====reply: yes, we know it is as important to come back here every chance we can and skim for our names to see if there is any new questions (never saw anyone complain about how we as we share as we recently read on here but in the end just so you know; don’t care either—if I see an area that needs correcting we do; IF we see the area; a lot we have not read yet.
            We have never got involved on the comment wall but maybe write about us to show you all a bit to who we are and what we saw that weekend and how we have a very difficult time with having days go by and everyone we know who could share rather not—that does such an unjust to that fire and to history possibly to be repeated as it will never be too clear when it could be much clearer and a disservice to all affected by the Yarnell Fire. I am really not up to par and struggling right now to even slide myself to do much this day—yet I did travel about throughout the day yesterday a lot; drained. To answer you, you are welcome. If you ever come this way—stop on by our sleeping bags in the desert for some good ol’ Southwest fried rattlesnake and fixens’ on the cowboy campfire—
            A quick question for you…

            Do you know who actually OWNS the “Double Bar
            A Ranch” up in Peeples valley? ===reply: been years since I was up to date so by going on thought—little over a million for appx 150+ acres; Dunlap family from Paradise Valley but maybe if you call Christina Cooper the local Yarnell librarian she can better assist this as she has patrons in all the time that CAN answer this- (928) 427-3191 or google county assessor and go that route or Buford I mentioned on here knows a lot of people there in Yarnell.============

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup: I read all of the comments on that Wildfire today
      article and one of the things Joy seemed upset about was
      that the Wildfire article is still just regurgitating crap from
      the SAIR report that has NEVER been true.

      Example: The SAIR report went out of its way to try to use
      the meetings/conversations between Marsh and Joy/Sonny
      as proof that Marsh had more ‘situational awareness’ up
      there than he actually ever did. The SAIR tried hard to make
      it sound like Joy and Sonny TOLD them all about the ‘roads
      leading to the ranch’ when that actually NEVER happened.
      The SAIT felt that had to ‘make these things up’ because
      to admit that Marsh/Steed did NOT have that kind of ‘situational
      awareness’ as part of their LCES requirements that day
      would mean that ‘someone did something wrong that day’…
      and the SAIT was committed to avoiding any evidence of that.

      From page 34 of the SAIR…

      While scouting, DIVS A encountered two local residents, avid
      hikers who are familiar with the area. The hikers took a path
      down the two-track road along the ridge to the southeast toward
      the Boulder Springs Ranch. They discussed their route with
      DIVS A prior to leaving.

      The only thing that is TRUE about that statement is that Marsh
      did meet them up there… and they discussed the way THEY
      planned on leaving the area.

      There was NEVER any mention of the “Boulder Springs Ranch”
      at all… or that the two-track actually ‘led’ to it. Joy has corrected
      this misconception MANY times since the SAIR came out.

      • Marti Reed says

        Thanks for this. I didn’t read all the comments, just the most recent one. And yes I knew they were really upset about being misquoted, among other things.

        I’ve been trying to figure out how to disengage a bit, now that I’ve done what I set out to do. I really need to get my life back.

        My biggest concern now, and especially after what you posted about the Brendan photos, is two-fold. Where is Eric’s cellphone. And how to get someone to transcribe that “choices conversation” that was, I’m convinced, heard by two living people. Those are the two most important pieces of evidence being withheld from us. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Eric’s cellphone doesn’t even exist anymore. But the call records do.

        Everybody keeps thinking they “know” what Eric and the crew decided to do. NOBODY KNOWS what those decisions were. (well, not exactly nobody but you get what I mean).

        People here are so “concerned” about speculations without evidence???? Give me a break. The biggest speculation that is being accepted without evidence as some kind of a fact here is that we know what they decided. We don’t. We only know the consequences. And the only evidence related to those decisions is being withheld.

        But I think we’ve managed to point the way. I don’t know what else we can do. I keep thinking “it’s time to go out and stock up on popcorn and put my feet up and just watch as the chips fall where they may.

        Brendan was out there alone in that pick-up truck, trying to use his phonecamera and his radios to stay in touch with his beloved brothers. The ones who had helped him gain his life back. And then somebody told him, “Don’t talk about it. Don’t say what you know.”

        Once upon a time, I did that. I kept it under lock and key. I know what doing that does to you.

        Only the truth will set you free, even if it’s total agony to look at it.

        Namaste and thank you for all you magnificent work here.

  35. Marti Reed says

    For those of you interested in Brendan McDonough’s path that afternoon, you might find some of his photos interesting.

    Here’s one on the dozer road, I think:

    Here’s another driving along in the white truck with no other crew vehicles to be seen anywhere:

    Here’s the whole folder:

    Have fun!!

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Thanks, Marti. See a longer post below about just the
      Highway 89 photos alone ( 19, 20 and 21 in that folder ).

      These photos alone finally tell us EXACTLY where Brendan
      McDonough was, and what he was doing, at the exact moment
      the critical ‘discussing their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions
      were taking place over the GM intra-crew (private) frequency.

      Brendan was not ‘outside’ anywhere.
      He was not off ‘going to the bathroom’ or something.

      He was sitting right there in the GM Supervisor Truck,
      all alone, driving it north on Highway 89… and doing nothing
      but listening to the onboard radio and hearing ALL of
      these critical conversations.

      We have always known Brendan most probably heard ALL
      of these crucial conversations… but never been quite sure
      WHERE he was when he did ( hear them ).

      Now we know that, too.

  36. Robert the Second says

    I know you’ll find this one interesting and informative.

    The following August 2012 Holloway Fire entrapment report deals with the Zuni HS. Several Southwest Area HS Crews were on this fire, INCLUDING the GMHS. Several Superintendents made the comment that they were convinced her fire shelter definitely saved her life, and the fire shelter performed exceptionally well under the circumstances. In other words, the fire shelter performed better than it was supposed to in that fuel type and in that fire behavior. Fire shelters were originally designed for light, flash fuels like grass or very light brush NOT as on this fire and CERTAINLY NOT as on the YHF.

    She was a ‘filler’ on the Crew (not a regular Zuni HS Crewmember) and for whatever reason, she removed her gloves and did NOT wear them during her deployment (She claims she did not know why she removed them). They were performing an afternoon firing operation, had a wind shift, increased fire behavior, spotting, and a dust devil that progressed into fire whirl(s).

    Once you see the photo of the deployment site on the cover page, and on p. 22, 26-27 you’ll see that she deployed IN THE BRUSH, in a very small opening. Her deployment site was survivable ONLY because the brush did NOT burn as intensely as on the YHF. This brush was MUCH LESS than the YHF brush.

    Marti – there is a good photo of a RHINO on p. 27, upper left photo.

    Similar to the YHF? Only in the fact that she deployed in the brush. You’ll notice that the Holloway Fire fuels did NOT consume as much as the YHF fuels. Therefore, the fire behavior was definitely NOT as intense.

    “On August 12, 2012, at approximately 1800 hrs, a significant event occurred on the Holloway Incident in Division W. During a burnout operation, a crew member became separated from her crew and walked into an unburned area of the fire. The separation was partially due to a weather event resulting in a 180 degree wind switch along with high winds that spread fire outside of control lines and reduced visibility to near zero. Realizing she was lost, with the fire gaining on her, physical and environmental factors were reducing her ability to stay ahead of the advancing fire. Unable to return to the safety zone, she was forced to deploy her fire shelter and was quickly overrun by the fire. She remained in the fire shelter for approximately 30 minutes and survived. … She received a few minor second degree burns …”

    So, it’s VERY POSSIBLE that this incident MAY have convinced at least SOME of the GMHS overhead that fire shelters would perform as well on the YHF as on the Holloway Fire. If they would have continued running towrd The Ranch and lighter fuels, ….

    The Holloway Fire Entrapment / Shelter Deployment
    BLM Nevada and Oregon
    August 12, 2012

  37. Bob Powers says

    2 comments from last night discussion.

    1. The lookout discussion.
    After every thing we have learned something jumped out at me.
    First I do not believe they wanted to leave a lookout separated from them as they left the Black area they were headed out.
    However the comfort level discussion in a new scenario.
    Could Marsh have asked Steed About his comfort level of going down into the unburned paralleling the fire if he Marsh held back acted as Lookout and kept an eye on the fire as they dropped to the ranch. If they determined they were taking a risk to get off the mountain ASAP. This would make since and why Marsh came down behind them. Not a good LO option but plausible. At some point he lost tract of the fire when he followed them into the bowl. And again I say they were in contact on inter-crew freq. the whole time.

    If this new vedio traffic is accurate we have the pressure to leave the black.

    2. The new Radio evidence discussed above blows the SAIT apart again since this shows Marsh talking on the radio during the time they supposedly had no communications. And I still believe Willis and McDonough Listened to them all the way to the burn over.
    Your thoughts?

    • mike says

      I will preface this by saying the video is somewhat thin as evidence – we do not know who is speaking to Marsh and do not know exactly what is being said. But those things might in fact be able to be determined.

      I have always felt the Musser “request” was critical – without it I do not think GM moves. That is not the same as blaming Paul Musser – GM was responsible for its own safety. But I think it sounded urgent to Marsh, which is why they did end up moving. I also feel it was a bit more “unusual” than some people have let on here. Asking some portion of GM to hike 1.5 miles quickly with the fire doing what it was smacks of some desperation to me.

      The guy who named the video obviously heard the conversation clearly. He named it the “gamble” in retrospect, did he feel the gamble was on the part of the person asking for speed, GM or both?

      Asking them to come faster was not part of he story told by SAIT, or part of the story we have been asked to believe. The interpretation above that what was being said was “we don’t really want you to come, but if you come, come quickly” is a real stretch in my opinion. I hope to God the thought process was not “come quickly, otherwise the fire is going to get you”. Most plausibly, it was “come quickly, we need you”. Consistent with a feeling of urgency about the situation in Glen Ilah.

      Even after learning of the Musser request, the story was that GM turned them down, changed their mind (for whatever reason) and came really without ever getting back with fire command about their move. This video suggests someone not only knew of it, they condoned it, and in fact said step on the gas. Again, this does not absolve GM of its very serious errors. But it puts the move in a context which frankly is more believable than what has been sold as the truth to date.

      As I said above, a clear transcript of this video would likely be very helpful. Until then, we are guessing a bit much, and need to be very careful accusing individuals by name.

      • Bob Powers says

        True I agree. And we are still trying to nail down the why they moved and why they went were they did. I believe we have already gotten further than the SAIT.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        If it WAS Musser… then why didn’t he report THIS
        conversation with Marsh?

        It it was NOT Musser… that almost raises even more
        disturbing questions.

        Let’s say it was Abel… How do we get from “Keep ME
        informed, Hunker and be safe ( in the black ), We’ll
        get some Air Support down there ASAP” as captured
        in the Caldwell video circa 3:50 PM…

        …to “If you can get here any faster that would be great”.

        at 4:30 ( this video ).

        That means that somewhere in there… BOTH OPS
        on this fire knew that GM was ‘coming down’, and
        even the guy ( Abel ) who had told them to just
        ‘hunker and be safe’ is now not only ‘onboard with
        that’ decision… he’s actually telling them to “Hurry up”.

        It’s VERY important for someone to identify WHO
        that is speaking to Marsh in this video… even if the
        entire quote can never by fully deciphered.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Your points are all well taken… especially where you point
        out that regardless of what was captured in the video…
        we now know WHO heard the REST of that exchange.

        Mccord himself.

        I believe the first word we hear from ‘MysteryMan’ in
        that captured radio traffic is the word ‘Copy’.

        We all know what that means.
        It means there was MORE to this conversation that
        had already taken place that was NOT captured
        in the video.

        But we also now know is that Mccord was sitting right
        there in the driver’s seat of one of the BR Crew Carriers
        and he was listening to this ENTIRE conversation.

        Mccord was NOT interviewed by either SAIT or ADOSH.

        No one has ( as yet ) asked him EVERYTHING he
        might have heard. Someone should.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Re 1: I think your theory that Steed might have THOUGHT
      Marsh was going to be his ‘lookout’ ( since he was straggling
      way behind ) is perfectly possible.

      Re 2: See a longer post below now that analyzes the newly
      released FULL set of Brendan McDonough photos/videos.
      The mystery about WHERE Brendan was when the critical
      ‘discussing their options’ and ‘comfort level’ discussions
      took place is now OVER. He was driving along, ALONE
      in the GM Supervisor truck, and doing nothing but listening
      to the onboard radio and hearing EVERYTHING.

  38. Robert the Second says


    Regarding the above BRHS video clip. I agree with MOST of your assessment with the exceptions below.

    I am TOTALLY convinced that the ‘Mystery Man’ you refer to is DEFINITELY NOT OPS Musser. It’s also NOT Willis. I think it sounds much more like OPS Abel even though you say you don’t think so. I listened to it about 20 times.

    The other one is definitely Marsh talking about ‘they’ and ‘they’ being the GMHS.

    Another thing, I think you take the slippery slope from “pressure” to “obvious PRESSURE” to “DIRECT PRESSURE” without any real justifiable basis or support. I don’t view any of that transmission as being ‘pressure.’ To me, it just goes along with the earlier suggestion about 1600 from Musser inquiring as to the GMHS availability to go to Yarnell, nothing more. No pressure, just asking. It’s an extension of what was talked about earlier. If there was pressure, there would have been more to the conversation.

    Things are definitely a bit hectic at this point, so I think it may come across as pressure, but it’s OPS just doing their respective jobs. OPS Abel andOPS Musser were working together, covering for each other the best they could, and some things definitely fell through the cracks in places.

    • Marti Reed says

      After reading this and first thinking, “but this doesn’t make any sense,” and then switching the characters around in my head, I’m inclined to agree with you. It does make sense.

      Abel has “ordered” them to hunker down and stay safe. He’s still assuming that’s what they’re doing. However, he’s also saying right here, something along the lines of, once you decide not to be committed any more, the sooner you can get down the better.

      At which point, Marsh responds in his typical ingenious way of keeping Abel in the dark about what they’re actually doing, tells him they’re coming down off the heel. I think that’s more about where than when. He’s saying that they will be coming down that short way, not a longer way.

      Does that make sense?

      • Robert the Second says


        Yes, it makes sense and not just because you’re agreeing.And Marsh is definitery continuing to be sneaky about the whole matter for sure.

        • Marti Reed says

          I’m not willing to cede, however, that he’s not doing it under pressure. That evidence is still being withheld, imho. We still do not know what Eric and the crew decided. We only know the consequences.

          And thx for the rhino id. I’d pretty much figured it out, but I didn’t want to blow it and look stupid.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to RTS post on January 16, 2014 at 10:12 am

      >> RTS wrote…
      >> If there was pressure, there would have been more
      >> to the conversation.

      There IS more to THAT conversation.

      Listen carefully again. I think it’s unmistakable that the first
      thing ‘MysterMan’ says is the word ‘Copy’.

      We all know what that means.
      It means this was an ONGOING conversation… we just can’t
      hear all of it.

      Someone did hear all of it… and we know exactly who that was.

      Blue Ridge Hotshot Mccord.

      The video also captures two other Blue Ridge Hotshots
      in the side mirror standing right near the Crew Carrier and
      with the volume on the radio set the way it was they
      probably heard ALL of that YARNELL_GAMBLE conversation
      as well.

      Mccord was never interviewed by SAIT or ADOSH.

      Aren’t you the one who said you actually know some
      of these Blue Ridge guys?

      Do you know Mccord?

      • Robert the Second says


        I have NOT been able to discern or hear a “copy” in there even listening several more times.

        I did hear at the end, Frisby calling or talking with someone, saying “BRHS on Tac 1.”

        I don’t know BRHS McCord.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          RTS… thank you.

          Just to be clear, though… are you saying you
          absolutely recognize that voice on the last
          transmission as Frisby ( since I think you know,
          him, right? )…

          …or are you just assuming it’s Frisby.

          If that really is him… that would be the first known
          capture of his voice that we have heard so far
          and that would be good to know.

          If it’s not Frisby’s voice it would most likely be
          Brown, right? Who else would be pitching those
          call signs that day on TAC 1 other than Brown
          or Frisby? Fueller? Ball?

          • Robert the Second says


            Since you posted this, I listened to the video clip several more times.

            In my mind, it’s ABSOLUTELY Marsh talking about the “heel of the fire” and ABSOLUTELY Frisby talking about “BRHS on Tac 1.”

    • calvin says

      p83 SAIR says….A chainsaw gas/oil bottle was found by itself 30 feet from the north corner of the deployment site. This particular bottle was not ruptured, in contrast to most fuel bottles found in and around the deployment site.
      When reviewing the DZ pics did you notice if any of the fuel bottles were indeed “ruptured” as in the cap was in place and there was a breech in the bottle walls?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Marti Reed post on January 16, 2014 at 5:04 am

      Thanks to Marti ( and Elizabeth, of course ) for the link.


      This is the first I’ve seen of these photos including the close-up of
      the billfold that clearly shows the “Preston Brewing Company”
      membership card… but only burned on the edges.

      The billfold most probably belonged to Joe Thurston.
      He worked at the Prescott Brewing Company.

      Just 18 days after the incident, the Prescott Brewing Company
      announced they were creating a special new beer that would
      be called “Heroes 19” in honor of Thurston and the entire GM Crew
      that perished in the fire.

      AZFAMILY online ezine published the original announcement.
      Arizona brews a special batch to honor Granite Mountain Hotshots
      Posted on July 18, 2013 at 9:57 PM
      by Jared Dillingham

      PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A special batch of beer is brewing at the
      Prescott Brewing Company.

      Members of the Arizona Brewers Guild got together to create
      a blend called “Heroes 19,” in honor of the fallen Granite Mountain
      Hotshot crew.

      Firefighter Joe Thurstson, who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire,
      worked at the Prescott Brewing Company for several years, while
      training to become a Hotshot.

      “He was a great guy and a pleasure to work with,” owner John
      Nielsen said as he and the other Guild members began mixing
      the new beer.

      ** THE RADIOS

      I’ve now looked at all the radios in super-closeup and with
      some enhancement but you were right… it’s really impossible
      to tell from these photos what any of the ‘channel select’
      knobs might have been set to. Only a hand-inspection of
      all the radios probably had a chance of figuring that out.

      ** USB DONGLE(S)

      In photo 106 ( the closeup of the keys ) the object in the
      bottom right is a completely burned USB ‘dongle’ card.
      Looks like it was attached to the keychain that is lying
      there right to the left of it. That’s where some people
      carry USB dongles that they use a lot.

      As bad as it looks… there actually still might have been
      some ‘data’ on it. The outer casing of the dongle either
      melted or burned away but the circuit board itself looks
      OK. The IC chip and capacitor numbering on the circuit
      board are still clearly readable.

      Photo 108 shows ANOTHER partially melted USB dongle.
      This one is sitting under what appears to be a burned
      dogtag. It’s about 18 inches to the right of the other dongle.
      Similar condition to the other one. Dongle casing melted
      away but circuit board still readable and might have
      retained whatever data was on it.

      I wonder what ever happened to these USB dongle cards?
      Did someone just think they were ‘junk’ and throw them away?

      • Marti Reed says

        Wow, I almost missed this, and thank you!!

        I had decided not to go back and “clean up” my “list of numbered personal items and things associated with them” and do some more work on it and post it because, frankly, I didn’t think it would matter that much and I was seriously sick of “crawling around” the Deployment Site any more.

        Thank you for making that #6 “personal item,” the wallet, meaningful. I had tagged it “Anthony Rose” because it was at the base of the agave, and that was close to his shelter. But Joe Thurston’s body was just to the “left” of it. Thank you so much for connecting it to that wonderful story. And I really, really mean that. I think it’s important for those of us doing this to find a way to connect what we’re doing to these wonderful human persons we are researching and writing about.

        I think you are mistaken about IMG_106.jpg. There’s nothing in the bottom right of it. But IMG_105.jpg does, and what you describe is right there. And it looks like what you are describing in IMG_108.jpg. I didn’t see that, because I have no clue what a USB dongle is. What is it?

        And I don’t know how these things were returned to their families. I’m guessing, by the chain of possession, that if they couldn’t be specifically identified to someone, Chino Valley Fire Department had the job of offering them to the families and letting them decide what they recognized.

        I had, at least preliminarily, connected that collection of things associated with that key chain (personal item #7) with shelters 3 (Body 20-Sean Misner) or 4 (Body 18-John Percin.) But Body 16-William Warneke was in that area also. What struck me about it all was that the keys were dug down deep in the ground, and that it must have taken some keen eyes to even see them, in the wind and dust, especially given the apparent blindness of the investigators to seeing other things that were so much more obvious to me. This collection really caught me personally. The keys, the dog-tags, the swiss army knife that looked like the one I always carried during the 10 years I back-packed in the Grand Canyon.

        Thank you for looking at these photographs. I wish more people in the conversation would.

      • Marti Reed says

        There is a long and powerful story in Arizona Central, which they are now denying me access to (apparently I’ve overly accessed their site this month) describing the journey of William Warneke’s wife, Roxanne. It’s called “Strength of Love’s Memory.” She gave birth to their baby in December. Here’s a link, although I don’t guaranteed it will work, but if it doesn’t you could probably search their site for it

        I almost posted a link to this story earlier, but I didn’t.

        At one point, she tells about going out onto the Deployment Site during a ceremony there. She was digging around with her foot, and she uncovered a watch. She wondered how many other things might have been there. Too small to have been seen and recovered.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Geez. They may have had all the best intentions
          starting out but I cannot believe what a botch job
          the whole site investigation was. Leaving watches,
          sunglasses… who knows what else belonged
          to those men… just sitting in the dirt for family
          members to find with their feet?

          That’s totally inexcusable.

          • Marti Reed says

            I don’t know if it’s inexcusable or what. I have noticed the difference between stills of something and videos of something. You can look at a still and that gives you no idea of the wind that is going on. Although some of the stills do give a visual hint as to how windy and dusty the conditions were on the site that day. So I can understand they may have missed a few things, although it still totally escapes me that they missed a camera, but that’s maybe because I’m a photographer and would see a camera a mile away.

            What happened after that seems to me to be a serious letting go into the realm of “Whatever.” I’ve been somewhat dumbfounded by that. It’s as if both the SAIT and the YCSO decided to just abandon the criticality of that site after they did their “investigation” of it. That has never made any sense to me, until probably you informed me that YCSO’s responsibility only encompassed the decision that no foul play had happened, and thus they no longer had any role in it.

            That may also be why they handed off the cellphones to ACTIC and then put away whatever information they got back from them into some file folder.

            I’m, in my own head, hypothesizing that PFD, either during their “cleaning up of the site” after the SAIT investigation, discovered Eric’s cellphone. Or some time after. (I haven’t seen anything that indicates what access to the site they may have had.) Or it must be still on that site. I really don’t believe, given what I’ve seen of the cellphones photographed on that site, whether numbered or not, it was totally demolished and vaporized or whatever, by the fire.

            And yes, I agree, that leaving all that stuff on the site was totally inexcusable. But who was “required” to get it off? I have absolutely no idea.

            It looks to me as if the YCSO was only required to sign it off as “no foul play,” at which point their job was to get the personal items to Chino Valley FD to get to the families, help the SAIT do their “investigation,” and then walk away from the whole thing. I have absolutely no idea what their obligations were regarding the cellphones and the radios after they determined there was “no foul play.”

            And I have absolutely no idea who was allowed into the site, or for whatever reasons, after it was “sealed off” from the public (by whom?)

            A whole lot of stuff was “left there.” I don’t know who was authorized to go into the site and find stuff. Obviously, if someone was, it was at their discretion to determine what and what not was important to remove from it depending on what they deemed to be “significant.”

            And the first thing I thought of, when I read Roxanne’s story, was, “Perhaps did this watch stop at the time the burnover took place?” It is pretty incomprehensible to me that nobody within the YCSO or the SAIT seemed to think that watches were important items to be investigated. But apparently they were not.

            This was NOT an investigation of the Deployment Site. With all the huge amount of information it contained. It was a quick and dirty, given the wind and disagreeable circumstances, an “appearance” of an investigation. Without the substance.

      • Marti Reed says


        I’m gonna post this here becuz I’m guessing most of the action and thus the eyeballs are focused down at the bottom of the page.

        I would really like to have a private conversation with you. There’s something I’m thinking that I want your opinion on but there’s no way I can communicated it with you here.

        (As I’m writing this I’m getting email notifications that Sonny is telling me pictures are going up)

        So here’s my email address

        mareed4 at gmail dot com

  39. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    ** THEY ARE “ALREADY ON THEIR WAY” AT 1632 ( 4:32 PM ).

    Hang on to your hats, folks.

    It’s possibly ‘smoking gun solved’ time ( or one of them, anyway ).

    Also… everybody get your ‘ears’ out.
    All you people who think you hear different ‘words’ than I do sometimes in
    these video/audio clips… now is your time to (please) pipe up (again).

    In the Blue Ridge photos/videos folder that Mr. John Dougherty just created and
    filled with SAIT FOIA//FOIL material… there is a short video in the BR Hotshot
    ‘Mccord’ folder entitled “YARNELL_GAMBLE” that appears to be aptly named.

    It appears to record at least one of the moments ( there might still be more to
    come ) when Eric Marsh was being DIRECTLY ( and HEAVILY ) PRESSURED
    to get his Granite Mountain Hotshots down to Yarnell “as fast as possible” and
    Marsh himself responds saying that is already what is happening and they will
    be there as soon as they can. He says they are ALREADY on their way and
    (quote) “coming from the heel of the fire”.

    I’m going to give you just the video details first, then ( and
    here is where all ears are requested ) the ‘transcription’ of what I believe is
    exactly the radio conversation captured in this video.

    Dougherty Dropbox parent folder: Blue Ridge Hotshots Photos and Videos
    Sub-Folder – Mccord

    Filename: ( Movie Title: YARNELL_GAMBLE ).

    Direct link to this video…

    Apple QuickTime Movie taken with Mccord’s iPhone 4S.
    Basic Metadata…
    Format: H.264 Decoder, 1920×1080, Millions
    of Colors, AAC, Mono, 44.100 kHz.
    FPS: 27.08
    Data Size: 47.88 MB
    Data Rate: 21.15 mbits/s
    Normal Size: 1080 x 1920 pixels.
    Current Size: 1080 x 1920 pixels (Actual).

    CAVEAT: I am labeling the response below as belonging to Eric Marsh because I
    personally believe it really couldn’t be anyone else. No one else out there that day
    had that unique, slow North Carolina drawl… but again… here’s where everyone
    who thinks they hear things differently than I do needs to pipe up.

    I am labeling the speaker who is DIRECTLY PRESSURING him as ‘MysterMan’
    but see some other evidence down below. I also personally believe, in this
    exchange, it can be no one other than OPS2 Paul Musser.

    The only other radio traffic captured in this video other than the exchange
    between ‘MysteryMan’ and Eric Marsh is at the end when a Blue Ridge Hotshot
    is just trying to raise ‘Structure’ people on TAC 1.

    ( Siren is heard in background at start )
    ( First audio is MysteryMan acknowledging something Eric Marsh )
    ( just said to him with ‘Copy’ and then urging him to get GM to town faster ).

    +0:00 – MysteryMan: Copy… ah… ah… come down… and appreciate if
    ya could get to town a little faster, but you’ll figure it out.

    ( No response from Marsh for 10 seconds or so… then… )

    +0:12 – Eric Marsh: Ah… they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire.

    +0:15 – A Blue Ridge Hotshot: Structure Core, Blue Ridge Hotshots on TAC 1.


    So let’s break it down…

    +0:00 – MysteryMan: Copy… ah… ah… come down… and appreciate if
    ya could get to town a little faster, but you’ll figure it out.

    If that is really what this guy says… then it speaks for itself.
    He is DIRECTLY pressuring Eric Marsh to get himself AND
    the Granite Mountain Hotshots to Yarnell “as fast as possible”.

    +0:12 – Eric Marsh: Ah… they’re comin’ from the heel of the fire.

    I think this is unmistakably Eric Marsh ( in his unique, slow NC drawl ).
    No question about it MY mind… but everyone with ears please chime in.

    What Eric is OBVIOUSLY saying here is (projectively) all of the following in
    response to ‘MysteryMan’s PRESSURE…

    1) They ( Jesse Steed in command of Granite Mountain Hotshots ) are
    ALREADY on their way to Yarnell.
    2) They ( GM ) are coming from the ‘heel of the fire’ where they have
    been working all day… and that’s a long way from town so be patient.
    3) They are ALREADY ‘on the hike’ from the ‘heel of the fire’… so
    ‘cool your jets’… they will get there as soon as they can.
    4) Eric Marsh himself is still nowhere near them ( GM ) even at this point,
    and he is still referring to his own Crew as ‘They’ because he is still
    DIVS A and is going to remain so until someone tells him he’s not anymore.
    5) Eric Marsh makes no attempt to inform the caller that he is actually
    ‘following’ them ( or anywhere near them )… or actively coming to town
    himself. He talks to ‘MysteryMan’ about ‘THEM’ as if they ALREADY took
    off on their ‘assignment’ but he is still where fire command thinks he is
    being ‘DIVS A’.

    I ( personally ) also believe you can hear more than just a bit of frustration
    and/or exasperation in Eric’s voice that ( to me ) seems to put a ‘tone’ into his
    response in reaction to the obvious PRESSURE from ‘MysteryMan’ as
    if what he really wanted to say back to ‘MysteryMan’ was “They’re ALREADY
    on their way and they’re gettin’ there as fast as they can, okay?”.

    Your mileage may vary, of course. Again. All ears on deck, please.

    ** ‘MysteryMan’

    I really can’t fully identify who is putting this DIRECT PRESSURE on Marsh…
    …but I think I am pretty sure who it is NOT.

    It does NOT sound like ( to ME, anyway ) either of the following…

    OPS1 ( Todd Abel )
    SPGS2 ( Darrell Willis )

    I’ve compared the ‘MysteryMan’ voice here to other radio captures from that day
    known to be those two people and the voice is not a match for either of them.

    I think that means this must be OPS2 Paul Musser speaking to Marsh.
    Who ELSE would it be ( that day, at that time )… especially since we
    already know OPS2 Paul Musser was the one ASKING them to
    “spare resources” ( but now we hear him REALLY pressuring for SPEED ).


    One of the most curious things about this particular video is the NAME of it.

    The iPhone it was taken on did NOT put that name on the original file.

    Someone decided to name this video ‘’ AFTER
    they saw what was ON it.

    Either that was Mccord himself just copying stuff off his iPhone to a CD for the
    SAIT people and Mccord himself deciding that would be good name for this
    video… or it was the SAIT investigators themselves deciding it should be named

    So what ‘gamble’ is the person who NAMED this movie referring to?

    I don’t see anything in the video itself that amounts to any kind of
    GAMBLE… but the scenario being captured by the AUDIO certainly does.

    What could it be other than the fact that this video captures someone telling
    Marsh to get GM to Yarnell ‘as fast as possible’ and Marsh telling him that they
    are ‘already on their way… but coming from the heel of the fire’.

    Given the time and conditions… that certainly sounds like a GAMBLE to me.

    This would also mean that the SAIT investigators KNEW they had this and
    they KNEW what this captured conversation indicated ( a GAMBLE ) the
    entire time they were assembling their SAIR “narrative”.


    The exact TIME that this video was shot appears to be 1632.

    That would match the conversation itself where Marsh is telling the ‘MysteryMan’
    who is requesting that Granite Mountain “HURRY UP” that they are “already on
    their way”. See below for more evidence on the timestamp evidence.

    This video was shot with Mccord already sitting in the driver’s seat of one of the
    Blue Ridge Crew Carriers while it was parked in a field over at the ‘youth camp’
    on Shrine Road just west of the actual ‘Shrine of St. Joseph’ site. He shot the
    video out the window of the vehicle. The Blue Ridge Hosthots are ‘mounting up’
    at this moment to evacuate the Shrine area and head over to the Ranch House

    The exact location where Mccord shot this video is here…

    34.229764, -112.755511

    The BR vehicle from which the video was taken is parked just near ( and just
    west of ) the tree at that location which can be seen briefly out the front
    windshield at about the +0:12 mark in the video.

    The structure in the background of the video with the red and white beams in the
    roofing appears to be at the back of a small fenced-in animal containment area
    there at the youth camp. There is about a 16 foot tall white circular ‘grain feeder’
    at the western edge of this structure.

    That white circular ‘feeder’ is exactly here…

    34.230268, -112.755390

    At about +0:08 in the video the camera accidentally focus on the left-front
    Crew Carrier side mirror and we see two Blue Ridge Hotshots standing
    on the ground on the left side of the Crew Carrier. Not identifed yet.

    At about exact the +0:13 mark in the video a ‘freeze frame’ shows a LOT of
    other vehicles ‘staged’ at this location, but I still don’t see the GM Supervisor
    Truck there, even though the SAIT says that where it’s supposed to be at
    this particular time.

    At least TWO photos taken by Blue Ridge Hotshot Papich were taken from this
    exact Shrine road ‘youth camp’ location as well and you can clearly the same
    animal pen and white grain tower in the background. The first Papich photo
    taken at this same spot was taken with his iPhone so you can trust the
    timestamp of 4:29:38 on that photo. It also shows the Blue Ridge ATV moving
    out from this ‘youth camp’ location at that moment.

    The Papich photo(s) taken at this same location were apparently taken just
    AFTER the Blue Ridge Convoy had left the youth camp headed directly for the
    Ranch House Restaurant. If the Blue Ridge vehicles had still been there where
    they are shown in the video from this location taken a few moments earlier then
    they would be appearing in the foreground in this still photograph… but they are
    not. They had already left this spot by 4:39:38 and were, indeed, already all the
    way down at the Ranch House Restaurant ( see previous BR photo metadata
    showing Frisby and others already there at the cafe’ circa 4:38 ).

    The (partial) metadata for the first Papich iPhone photo is…

    Camera: Apple iPhone 4
    Lens: 3.9 mm
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Program AE, 1/15 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1000
    Flash: Off, Did not fire
    File: 1,936 × 2,592 JPEG (5.0 megapixels)
    Image compression: 86%
    Date: June 30, 2013 – 4:29:38 PM


    According to Blue Ridge tracking video… this ‘mount up’ moment for the Blue
    Ridge Hotshots captured in this video was at exactly 1631 at this exact location…
    so that would be right around the moment this video was taken.

    Actually, according to the BR tacking video, the moment the vehicles
    actually throw it in drive and leave this exact spot would be 1633… but
    since at least 2 Blue Ridge Hotshots were captured in the video in
    the left-side mirror still just standing on the ground and not in the
    vehicles yet… the video does NOT capture the exact 1633 exit moment.

    So if the ‘mount up’ moment at the youth camp was 1631 but the vehicles
    aren’t ‘on the move’ away from there until 1633 then I would say the
    exact time for this video has to be 1632. They are not exactly leaving
    at this moment but they are certainly ‘fixing to leave’.

    1632 is 12 minutes after GM supposedly had already dropped into the canyon
    and only 7 minutes before Steed’s first MAYDAY.

    So the conversation in this video is when GM was already on their way to town,
    and offers even more proof that even after they had dropped into the box
    canyon… Marsh had NOT ‘caught up’ with them yet even 7 minutes before the

    Notice in this video that Marsh is still giving ‘fire command’ the impression
    that he ( DIVS A ) is still exactly where he knows they THINK he is. Marsh
    talks about GM in this conversation like he already “sent them to town” and
    that THEY ( but not him ) are “…coming from the heel of the fire”. Marsh
    doesn’t say that HE is also ‘with them’ or even ‘following them’ at this
    moment along the same route even though he obviously had every
    chance to make that clear. Very, very curious behavior on Marsh’s part.


    The ‘youth camp’ location is exactly where the SAIR says they (BR) moved
    their vehicles circa 1500.

    From page 20 of the SAIR…

    The Blue Ridge IHC move their crew carriers toward the Shrine of St. Joseph
    (the Shrine) and a youth camp area around 1500 and then start preparing for
    burnout along the dozer line.

    Page 14 of WFAR talks about the ‘personnel in the youth camp area’…
    Between 1530 and 1545, Planning OSC and DIVS A discussed the
    thunderstorm cells both to the north and south of the fire. Also at this time,
    the wind picked up and shifted direction from the southwest to the
    west-northwest. There was spotting and heavy ash fell onto fire personnel
    working in the youth camp area. The two-mile flanking fire started to look
    like a head fire and was moving to the southeast.

    Page 9 of YIN notes.

    Interview with Blue Ridge

    NOTE: In this interview… the location of the BR vehicles being the youth
    camp circa 1630 is verified… as is the moment when we can now see
    where a lot of the new BR photos came from. When BR reached the
    Restaurant they were all shooting pictures of the fire ( some of which
    are now online ). When the news of deployment became common
    knowledge… Brian Frisby told all of them to STOP taking pictures.

    Excerpt from BR interview confirming Convoy exit from ‘youth camp’
    and out Shrine Road to Highway 89 just after this YARNELL_GAMBLE
    video was shot…

    At manzanita and lockwood fire was already in the subdivision. There in the
    buggies and the fire is pushing them out. Tie in with the crew at the ranch house
    and hit main rd @ 1640 they make a turn, and hear yelling on Tac 1, a little further
    they hear yelling on Tac 5 AA and GM7 yelling multiple times. AA says unit yelling
    at AA on A/G stop yelling and stand by. Marsh cuts in and says were cut off there
    cutting a deployment site, trying to burn around, cutting a deployment site, there
    is panic in his voice. Todd gets on AA and says raise GM on A/G. Focused on
    that Trew tries to raise GM on crew. He hears a keyed mic. Trew gets a crew
    member and sits him in GM trucks and says listen for anything on the radio.
    1 minute later he hears click click. Brendan was w/ BR. B-33 is on scene trying
    to make passes calling them. Trying to get GM and pin point their location. Fire
    behavior was extreme. 1 helicopter dropped at manzanita and lockwood
    intersection then the VLAT dropped in town. NE wind couldn’t see anywhere
    near GM location, but no 50mph winds more like 20-30mph. 1645ish is there
    best guess at when it all happened. Tied in with the crew at the restaurant
    everyone understood what had happened a few guys snapping photos of the fire
    not because of the deployment Brian said put them away. Started gathering a
    task force of medical people, paramedics, drivers, medical equipment, but
    there was no real access. People coming in/out all over. B & T met w/ Ball 2 T6
    engines and a WT. They were told to go in and do something.


    PS to “Robert the Second” ( RTS )

    Aren’t you the one who says you know this Paul Musser guy,
    and you have actually SPOKEN to him before?

    Any chance you could get this Musser guy to confirm or deny that
    that is him speaking in this Blue Ridge Hotshot video?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Correction for above with regards to the ‘Papich’ photos.

      I was wrong about them being taken AFTER the video.
      They appear to have been taken (just) BEFORE the video.

      The reason the BR Carrier from which the video would be shot
      moments later doesn’t appear in the Papich photos is because
      they appear to be just out of frame to the right of his camera.

      • Marti Reed says

        There’s just so much noise around that first voice. I don’t even remotely have the video editing skills to do it, but it is possible (and not all that difficult, if you know how to do it) to isolate all that noise and cut it out so as to just hear the voice. Do you have any friends that might know how to do that?

        I think this is really important. When I was first going thru all this stuff, I looked at this video several times. I was like “why are you shooting this vertical??????????” Everybody knows you don’t shoot video vertical. So it’s clear the point of capturing this is not the visuals, it’s the audio. And, yes, I think the naming of it as “Gamble” means something. I caught that early on. Like what????? I would bet McCord did that naming.

        And, yes, I could hear that second voice being Marsh loud and clear the first time I heard it.

        It seems to me like McCord was shooting this because he HEARD something that he thought was important and started just recording, not for the visual but for the audio. Which would mean there was something he thought was important that he heard before he started recording this.

      • Marti Reed says

        On an aside, but possibly related. I have always wondered what was the reason the Globe Type 2 (and now we know Inmate Hand) Crew was in the Shrine area (fortunately for us) in the first place. Apparently, from this video, they even stayed there after Blue Ridge mostly left. I’ve never understood that. Possibly only a conversation with them could reveal that. Since I don’t have access to the ADOSH interview notes that Elizabeth has, all I know is that “they” were interviewed, but I don’t know what they said when they were.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          If you watch the Blue Ridge GPS tracking video…
          they ‘put in in gear’ and leave their parking spots at
          the youth camp at 1633 and are ‘outta there’… but
          suddenly the entire convoy stops for a minute at
          the St. Joseph Shrine parking lot on their way out.

          That’s exactly where the helmet-cam video was
          shot and according to the timing… those guys
          must have already been there ( for whatever
          reason… because as the video shows… they
          had no gear on and weren’t really doing anything ).

          The Blue Ridge guys must have just stopped
          to talk with them and/or warn them they better
          get out of there… then the entire convoy ‘put it
          in gear’ again, exited Shrine road ASAP, and
          went directly to the Ranch House Restaurant.

          It was only just a few minutes after the Convoy
          had ‘stopped to talk to them’ and moved on
          that the helmet-cam video was about to start.

      • Marti Reed says

        On another note, before I go back to bed, after letting this sink in a bit. It’s interesting, given this, that Musser isn’t named in the lawsuits but Willis is. Because Musser fessed up that he had asked GM if they could spare resources to help save Yarnell. But, according to his fessing up, he had only asked. If Musser only asked, then, according to this (if we can get a clear transcript of it), apparently Musser may have been doing a slight bit more than just “asking.”

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Despite any direct/indirect involvement Willis may
          ( or certainly may not ) have had in the afternoon
          decision making which led to fatalities… I think he
          SHOULD have been named in the lawsuits simply
          because of his title. He was the “Wildland Division
          Chief” for Prescott and he was in charge of that
          program… and there still a lot of questions to
          be asked/answered regarding that entire program.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Yes. I botched that one up above.
              What I was TRYING to say is that
              while I know Willis IS named in the
              lawsuits ( and I think he SHOULD be
              because of his job title )… I don’t
              think there is as clear a line for
              naming Musser in the suits as well.

              Not yet, anyway.

              I’m not sure that even if Musser
              absolutely ORDERED them to
              ‘come down ASAP no matter what’
              that he could actually be held
              personally liable in a wrongful
              death suit. The people he was
              working for, maybe… but him
              personally?… Dunno. That
              gets *really* complicated.

    • Sitta says

      What I think I can hear:

      0:00 – 0:10 MM: “…how many you’ve got, uh, comin’ down here, pretty [good if you could? difficult to?] come a little faster [?] but […] if you’re [? cuts out?] to the community.” [beep]

      0:12 – 0:14 EM: “Uh, there comin’ from the heel of the fire.”

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Thanks, Sitta. Your ‘brackets’ look just like the ones I
        started with regarding what can be CLEARLY heard
        and what is DIFFICULT to hear.

        That’s when I listened over and over and over and over
        and tried to ‘refine the brackets’.

        So regardless of how those ‘bracketed’ section refine
        to any particular pair of ears… you just demonstrated
        that the most IMPORTANT parts of that conversation
        are, in fact, understandable.

        I also think that despite what others might ‘fill in the
        brackets’ with… it doesn’t change the actual
        meaning of the conversation we are now hearing.

        ‘MysteryMan’ was urging Marsh and/or GM to get ‘down’
        ‘as fast as you can’ and Marsh replies ( somewhat
        exasperated ) that what ‘MysteryMan’ is requesting is
        ALREADY happening ( circa 1632 ).

        Actually… you can throw away everything ‘MysteryMan’
        even says there and I don’t think there’s any question
        that it is Marsh responding and he says exactly what
        he does. It’s CLEAR in the audio.

        So even just that ‘response’ captured in this video
        is VERY significant given the TIME ( 1632 ).

    • calvin says

      My guess. The first part is the hardest to understand and I think my guess about this was realized after identifying the second part of MM comment that sounds like…..come down and help us get this to go a little faster but if you are commited I understand.

      After hearing this numerous times my WILDEST guess at the very beginning would be …way you could. As in “anyway you could”

      So I think MM says Anyway you could come down to help us get this to go a little faster (?) but if you are commited I understand.

      If the second voice is Marsh, then he sure doesn’t sound like he is on the move or exerted. If I am correct, what would “help us get this to go a little faster” mean??

    • Marti Reed says

      I haven’t had my coffee yet, but I did look at the video in lightroom which, unfortunately doesn’t show the metadata all that well and neither does Bridge. I’m definitely gonna have to get that plug-in.

      The video was MADE at 11:27 PM on July 30, according to the metadata. Using Apple Quicktime, which means he must have MADE it that night on a computer. So, he would have downloaded the original onto a computer and saved it as “yarnell_gamble” at that time.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          He must have thought it was significant for at
          least 2 reasons…

          1) He knew he shot it right NEAR the time of the
          first MAYDAY call from Steed ( which came less
          than 8 minutes after this video ).

          2) He may not have been able to hear anything
          clearly in the ‘MysteryMan’ part but he KNEW
          that was Eric Marsh saying “ah… they’re
          comin’ from the heel of the fire”… and he
          knew who THEY were… Granite Mountain.

          Everyone does realize that… even if ‘MysteryMan’s
          words remain totally debatable… if that really IS
          Eric Marsh clearly saying “ah… they’re comin’
          from the heel of the fire” at 1632…

          …then the SAIR’s claim that that had “no verifiable
          communications from them” for 30-37 minutes
          is absolute HOGWASH.

          That is… unless that is where the ‘lawyer speak’
          comes into play in the SAIR. The knew they had
          this communication and they knew the time…
          but as long as they made no attempt to VERIFY
          it… then they could still get away with saying
          what they did in the SAIR…

          “We have VERIFIED communications”.

    • jeff i says

      WtKtt you are being over dramatic again. You used the word “pressure” in your post at least 7 times. I don’t see this as being that much pressure on Marsh.
      I agree with Calvin and I hear a “faster, but if you are committed” phrase in there. I think as soon as he adds “but” it gives Marsh an out. At this point Marsh already knew they were wanted in Yarnell and they had already made the decision to head that way. So after this conversation, he didn’t get in touch with Steed and tell him to march through the green to get there faster, they were likely already in the green at this time.
      I think all this new video shows is someone (Musser?) knew they where headed towards town, but not which route. I don’t think it at all played into the decision to cut through the green.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        It could NOT have played into the decision to drop into
        the fuel-filled box canyon. They ( Steed and Crew )
        were ALREADY IN IT when this video was shot.

        See above. You can toss out everything ‘MysterMan’
        says or asks and this captured transmission still
        represents proof that PRESSURE was being applied
        to Marsh to ‘get those resources to town’.

        That makes the SAIR a total lie.

        There was no ’30’ minute blackout
        There was no ‘We don’t know what they were doing
        or what decisions were made’.

        Marsh is clearly telling ‘MysterMan’ that the previous
        request from him ( and or others ) is currently being
        fulfilled… just 8 minutes before those men ran into
        a wall of flames.

        • jeff i says

          I still say that this was not pressure on Marsh, he already knew they were needed in town so he got them headed that way. He also knew it was getting critical down there so they would need to move in an expedited way, so someone saying something like this is just reiterating what he already felt. Its not pressure that he felt, just a will to do something useful with his crew.

          I don’t think its quite right to call the SAIR a total lie. Clearly they never heard this audio or they would have never mentioned the 30 min gap. They had no reason to hide this no matter how much you would like to believe that they would. At best, this points out a deficiency in reviewing available material.

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            >> Just a will to do something useful
            >> with HIS crew.

            >> Clearly they never heard this audio.

            >> They had no reason to hide this

            >> A deficiency in reviewing available
            >> material.


            It is not very often I am at a loss for words…
            …but this is one of those times.

            • Marti Reed says

              I know where I’ve heard these kinds of words before. Lots of these kinds of words.

              It was when I spent seven months, starting almost four years ago, on what could now be called an ASAIT regarding Deepwater Horizon, where 19 other men died awful firey deaths. These are exactly the kinds of words we heard ALL THE TIME.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Gotcha. That is definitely a photo of the documented meeting
      that took place just after Rance Marquez ( DIVS Z ) finally
      showed up that day ( at 12:10 PM )… but according to other
      proof that means it can’t be Frisby in this photo. See below.

      Metadata ( partial ) for this photo…
      Camera: Apple iPhone 4S
      Lens: 4.3 mm
      Digital Zoom: 2.407487792
      Exposure: Auto exposure, Program AE, 1/1,325 sec, f/2.4, ISO 50
      Flash: On, Fired
      File: 2,448 × 3,264 JPEG (8.0 megapixels)
      Image compression: 93%
      Date: June 30, 2013 – 12:20:44 PM

      Left to right…

      Bald guy: Don’t know. BR Dozer guy Cory Ball?
      Guy with X radio suspenders on: Don’t know.
      Guy in the yellow shirt: I would say has to be Rance Marquez

      Guy on far right with ball cap: Looks like Frisby from behind
      but unless Frisby got down from his face-to-face meeting with
      Marsh out at the anchor point 10 minutes earlier than the
      SAIR says then it can’t be him.

      BR Hotshot sitting on truck far right of frame: Don’t know.

      With an exact timestamp of 12:20 PM then this would be
      the Rance Marquez ( DIVS Z ) meeting described in the
      on page 21 of the SAIR…

      Division Supervisor Zulu (DIVS Z), a single resource ordered
      for the Type 3 team, arrives at the Blue Ridge crew carriers
      around 1210 and calls DIVS A to discuss a division break and
      resource assignments. DIVS Z is having radio problems, so he
      uses a Blue Ridge crew radio to talk with DIVS A over the Blue
      Ridge intra-crew frequency. DIVS A and DIVS Z cannot agree on
      the break location or associated supervisory responsibilities, resulting in uncertainty among some personnel about the physical
      break between Divisions Alpha and Zulu.

      ** Arguments between Marsh and Marquez took place DURING
      ** the face-to-face meeting between Frisby/Brown + Marsh/Steed.

      SAIR says this face-to-face with Frisby / Brown / Marsh / Steed
      all the way up at the anchor point was happening from NOON to
      12:30 PM. The Blue Ridge GPS tracking video has actually
      confirmed this already.

      SAIR … page 19.

      A little before noon, on the two-track road just below the saddle, BR Supt and BR Capt meet DIVS A and GM Capt at the anchor point. Over the next half hour, they discuss tactics and agree to use a Granite Mountain crewmember as a lookout (GM Lookout). GM Lookout identifies a lookout spot down near the old grader at the bottom of the slope, and GM Capt agrees it will be a good vantage point. BR Supt, BR Capt, DIVS A, and GM Capt also discuss problems with radios on the incident, noting some radios do not
      have appropriate tone guards and communication is adversely

  40. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    New Blue Ridge Hotshots photo.
    In the Mccord folder in Mr. Dougherty’s online dropbox.

    Metadata ( partial )…
    Camera: Nikon COOLPIX S01
    Lens: 4.1 mm (Max aperture f/3.2)
    Exposure: Auto exposure, Program AE, 1/125 sec, f/3.3, ISO 80
    Flash: Off, Did not fire
    Focus: AF-F, Center
    AF Area Mode: Single Area
    Date: June 30, 2013, 4:38:49 PM

    This photo puts the Blue Ridge Hotshots in the parking lot of the Ranch
    House Restaurant at 4:38:49 ( 11 seconds before 4:39 ).
    They are all already OUT of their vehicles and just standing around.
    Some minutes have already elapsed since they got there and got out of
    their vehicles so that means their Convoy exit from the Shrine area arrived
    earlier than has previously been thought.

    This also appears to be a moment right after Captain Jesse Steed’s
    first MAYDAY call because they all appear to be pretty concerned
    and/or focused on the guy ( Brown? ) with the radio.

    If that is the case ( what do others think? ) then Steed’s MAYDAY may
    have come even earlier than the SAIR timestamp of 1639.

    By the way… that is… in fact… BR Supt Brian Frisby right there in the
    center with the ball cap which also means that is definitely him captured
    in the Russ Reason video taken at the same location following the
    deployment and burnover.

    • Marti Reed says

      PS Do you have any idea who anybody else is in this picture?

      I’ve been able to maximize it in lightroom, pulling all that darkness out. I keyworded it, so it’s now possible to id him in other photos, if he’s there.

    • Marti Reed says

      Also in the Papich Folder there is that meeting out there where BR and GM vehicles are parked. Shows the red truck, maybe Marquez and somebody else from Overhead. I’m trying to tag them. What do you think?

      Do you think Frisbee is in this? (I can’t imagine he isn’t). Do you have any idea who the bald guy might be?

      I really don’t know what the importance of this, in the general overall context of the whole thing. But I do remember there were some conversations about this convocation awhile back, and this is a good image of that.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Marti… the importance of the ‘meetings’ that did ( or did
        not ) actually take place out at that ‘staging area’ out
        on Sesame Trail that day… and exactly WHO was or
        wasn’t there for them… dates back to the very first days
        of this ongoing discussion.

        It’s a little complicated… but let me try a 411 on this.

        The SAIR says that a very important ‘meeting’ took place
        out there in the MORNING when (supposedly) some very
        important things happened with regards to ‘situational
        awareness’ for Granite Mountain and whether or not both
        Eric Marsh AND Captain Steed ( and his crew ) were fully
        informed by management about the ‘Boulder Springs

        The SAIR says all of those people were ‘doubly briefed’
        about the ‘ranch’ out there at that time. They even
        said that Eric Marsh was there, at the vehicles, for
        that briefing when we know now nothing could be
        further from the truth. He had been up on the ridge
        for almost an hour before that ‘supposed’ meeting
        took place.

        There is still no definitive evidence that this important
        ‘situational awareness’ meeting for Granite Mountain
        that the SAIR says happened out there that morning
        ever really happened at all.

        With regards to the ‘meetings’ that took place LATER
        out there where the ‘crew buggies were parked’…
        that all focuses on these ‘arguments’ that happened
        when this guy Rance Marquez shows up at NOON,
        hours after a plan was already being worked on, and
        only then wants to start talking about him being hired
        to be DIVS Z and wanting to start drawing ‘division
        lines’ and ‘boundaries’ on an already in-place plan.

        Since ADOSH and WFAR came out… and the SAIT
        investigation notes became public… when Marquez
        actually got there and when these ‘arguments’ with
        Eric Marsh took place has been better established…

        …but when there was only the SAIR to rely on for this
        ‘Marquez’ stuff… it was very, very confusing.

        I think others have had a lot of OTHER questions about
        the actual activity out there ( WHO, WHAT, WHEN )
        like Calvin, etc… but I am forgetting myself what all
        the various concerns/questions were/are.

        • calvin says

          p7 YIN BR….Driving up to the saddle is when Eric became Alpha. Driving up to the saddle, Rance called Eric and said I’m Zulu. Just B4 rance showed up, Travis radioed B & T and said there are 2 guys flying your way. It was Rance he tied in w/ Cory w/ the dozer.
          P36 YIN Marquez…..I grabbed a lunch and, at the last minute, paired up with Cogan Carothers.

          Hmmm… I guess these are the two guys Travis called B&T about?

          P36 YIN Marquez…Went past the buggies about a quarter of a mile and tied in with the dozer.

          I think there are photos to support this.

          p37 YIN Marquez….1400-1415: I got back on the horn with Eric to iron out the plan.

          Later same page(no time assigned but not chronologic from above statement) …Eric couldn’t find a way to get to the fire. Blue Ridge was scouting around and asked what I was doing there. I told them I was here to find the division break. The Blue Ridge sups were going down washes etc on the ATV trying to find a way to get to the fire.

          I think this “going down washes on the ATV” is documented on the BR capt movement video.

          • Marti Reed says

            Thank you!

            I think I’ve read that three times over the past 24 hours and still have a hard time translating it. Every time someone complains about how Joy/Sonnie write, I want to say, “Try reading the official interview reports!”

            And, yes, Sitta, I agree B + T = Brian and Trueheart (otherwise known as Trew). And then sometimes Travis gets thrown in the convo peridically just to confuse me more.

            And people toss around the term “tie in” for just about everything, from face to face, to radio, to cell (texting? talking?), to finding the same parking lot, to what, maybe esp???

            It drives me nuts. But, hey, when those interview notes first came out and I read them, I actually put a call out on Twitter for any ff people who would like to help me by translating them. No bites.

            I finally decided I might be ready to go back and try reading them again only two days ago. They make 50% more sense now, so I guess that’s progress!

  41. Marti Reed says

    Hmmmmm. Looking thru the ADOSH report called “InspectionNarrativeForASFD.psd” to find the date when Willis told his totally ludicrous story about the camera. And I just found this among the list of people interviewed:

    Sergeant Paulson, Structure Group 2 resource (Double Bar A Ranch, Model Creek Subdivision,Peeples Valley) ASPC-Globe inmate hand crew.”

    Put that in your pipe and puff on it for awhile.

    And then go watch their memorial video:
    “Yarnell Hill Fire 6/30/2013 – 7/9/2013. Globe Type II Crew”

    Remember this is the crew that someone in some comment about two miles above this post identified as the crew that shot the “Last Moments” headcam video, which they clearly did. This explains something to me that I’ve been wondering about all along, but hadn’t gotten around to asking.

    I had been wondering why the last moments video never showed up on their You Tube stream and just just popped up in the media. I was even gonna ask in a YouTube comment, but never around to it. And now thanks to the FOIA we have the original.

    Now that I just discovered they’re a Type 2 Inmate Hand Crew, I have all kinds of total grateful respect for these guys. Massive thank you to them. So this seems to be my time this day to cry.

    • Marti Reed says

      PS I just invited this guy on youtube to check us out. I don’t know if he will, but I just wanted to inform you all that I did.

  42. Marti Reed says

    For those who are interested, JD posted a bunch of new photos yesterday. Included is a collection from the Blue Ridge crew. In particular, WTKTT, might want to look at them. I downloaded a couple from each of the named folders, so I can see how the metada looks. There’s quite a few from the Shrine area. And the later trip into Yarnell. I really wish someone had snapped a few from the trip to the ridge and then to the Deployment Site. But I guess they had better things to do.

    And, regarding that trip, I don’t have time to get into too much detail right now, but as I was reading and re-reading the descriptions of various peoples/agencies reaching and getting into the Deployment site, it all started overlaying in my head. It appears (at least in my head) that the crewmembers mentioned in the reports that were in communication with the folks that had made it into the site, and were led to the top of the ridge, I think, by the plane and told to find the helispot, and then came down into the site and met up with the folks there, were probably Blue Ridge. According to the reports there were 4 atv’s involved in the whole group. So there may have been some others with them. But it pretty much lines up with the Blue Ridge Movements Video.

    • Marti Reed says

      I forgot to mention. Along with those BR photos and videos, JD has provided a spread sheet identifying what each one is of. So that should be really helpful. Thank you JD!!

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Yes… Kudos to our extraordinarily patient host,
        Mr. Dougherty.

        ALL of this new material is very important.

        Even in just the first few clicks and finally being able to
        see metadata on some of these photos… a lot of
        ongoing mysteries are getting some answers.

        More later.

        • Marti Reed says

          Yeah, I figured you’d find them quite interesting, along with id-ing their locations for us, for which I thank you in advance.

          In a recent email convo with JD, I thanked him for patiently hosting our “sometimes exasperating Alternative Serious Accident Investigation Team” campout on his website.

        • Marti Reed says

          There’s a lot of photos of the crew. My insistent curiosity would love to know the ids of them. At least of a couple key people. JD doesn’t do that.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Marti… there are some other details about the moments you
      are now describing in the full Non-redacted testimony from
      the DPS Medics… Eric Tarr in particular.

      What happened with the ATVs is that Ranger 58 could see
      them all ( 3 or 4 ) on the ground but could not communicate
      with them. Air Attack asked Ranger 58 to ‘hover’ over the
      yellow bladder bags they found and the ATVs were headed
      for that spot on a visual. They all had to stop and hike to
      the bags ( which is where they thought GM might have been ).

      It was only when Ranger 58 was sure they had the bag
      location… they left there and actually started the runs that
      would actually find the real deployment site.

      Later… when DPS medic Tarr had been put on the ground…
      he actually describes those moments when he was on the
      site… saw some ‘firefighters appear up on the ridge’… and
      he ‘waved them down’. The Blue Ridge GPS tracking video
      shows us only Trueheart Brown making the full descent
      in just 4 minutes but apparently at least 3 or 4 people
      descended down to the site at that time.

      Medic Tarr then describes the moments when ALL of
      them hiked together over to the Ranch… then ALL of
      them hiked back to the site again, with even more

      So the site was already pretty crowded by that point, and
      until Medic Tarr himself tied that ribbon you see in the
      photographs onto the burnt tree stubs… there were a
      lot of people walking there near the site.

      Those Non-redacted DPS Office reports are here
      on Mr. Dougherty’s site…


      • Marti Reed says

        Yes, thank you. That report was part of what I was reading so I have it. I was posting my comment totally out of my head, without all the documents in front of me. So thank you for correcting me.

        It was Air Attack doing the communicating and the helicopter pinpointing the point they needed to start the search on the ground. And Blue Ridge plus or minus a few other ATVs on the ground. I don’t know how many ATVs Blue Ridge had, but I haven’t seen anything that shows they had four.

  43. Robert the Second says

    Glad to see that you all recovered from the lack of oxygen as a result of the deterministic versus probablistic model discussion.

    I have to address a few questions first, then moving on. Yes, we did always post lookouts, even for mop-up, even when there was no real fire activity threat. He was also good for overall communication, watching for storms and such during lightning season, watching for smoke puffs to direct the Crew, and such. It was a good habit.

    The “Mr. Shirt Sleeves Must Be Down At All Times” comment? Nope,not really. ONLY on the firelines. It’s in the Red Book and each Agency’s Safety and Health Code. And it’s merely redeeming your supervisory responsibilities and performing your supervisory duties. If you’re the BOSS, then BE the Boss. You’re not in the position to be everyon’e friend.

    “The rules require gloves to be worn at all time is a rule …” NO, they don’t REQUIRE you to wear them all the time, only to HAVE them. Our guys wore them when they needed to. There were only a few REQUIRED times, like building hotline, burning out and/or holding fireline,walking down steep, rocky slopes, really hot mop-up and/orwalking through hot ground, and the like, otherwise FF discretion.

    Gary Olson’s not gone, he’s an ex-cop, the’s lurking out there, so these are for you Gary. Blisters were not a big deal, part of the job. I guess our guys were tougher than Gary’s guys. It didn’t seem to bother them and we never had an issue.

    One of the main things you all brought up that I just couldn’t accept were the off-the-wall examples of smoking dope and driving, drinking and driving, hauling ass going to the store in a snow or ice storm, and others. Very poor examples and pretty lame actions if you all are doing these things. They certainly did NOT further your cause.

    In a nutshell, I cannot and will not accept the probabilistic model for WFF. I probably will do so in things like gambling, and such. Okay, you can stick a fork in me, I’m done. Looks like it’s going to once again be the agree to disagree thing.

    • Bob Powers says

      Well said RTS. like WTKTT we CANT have a soft outer shell and expect everyone to agree with us every time if we missed the point change the wording and try again. One thing for sure we are all human here. And we are all searching for facts. I am headed out for dinner drinks and a fun night in Jackpot NV. an hour from ITS BIRTHDAY TIME. be back tomorrow.

      • Marti Reed says

        “Happy Birthday To You!!” –to quote the Beatles

        I have sometimes hesitated to post with something I’m not totally sure about, and I really appreciate it when people correct me. It’s the only way I can build my knowledge base. But it was a little scary the first few times.

        Regardless of how we all variously orient ourselves regarding calculating probabilities, I think all of us value the conversations about the tight-rope balancing act between risk and safety.

        My dad, when he was about 26 years old, flew with pilots flying him, and the team of Air Force meteorologists he was in charge of at the age of 26, in and out of typhoons in the Pacific right after World War II, so that they could do weather observations so that he could create mathematical calculations for flying aircraft into, out of, and around typhoons and hurricanes.

        This was before there were any kind of rules about doing this. Because he was the one who, along with his crew, had to do this in order to write the rules in the first place.

        My 94-year-old mom told me on Sunday, that he told her about the first few times they did it, that the whole airplane shook and they were all absolutely terrified the whole time.

        My next thought was, “My dad was a hot-shot, no wonder I’m pinned to this story.”

        My next thought was, “My dad was even more than a hot-shot because he did that before there were any rules, so that he could create the rules, so that he could help save lives.”

        Which he did. He was one of those people who took serious risks, in this particular area and others (including the nuclear weapons testing program) in order to save lives.

        And you know what? My mother absolutely hated it. She was the one that had to raise his kids when he was out there doing that, taking those risks to save lives, and not ever even remotely sure he would come home alive.

        One of the guys that worked under him, in that team, wrote to my mom and said my dad deserved a Medal of Honor for having risked his life to do the work required to create the rules that are still in use today everywhere for flying safely in and around hurricanes and typhoons and other seriously tumultuous weather, probably even the weather around Yarnell.

        So, from the daughter of one serious risk-taker to a another serious risk taker (and I’ve taken my share of pretty serious risks in my life, also) ~~

        Thank you for being a part of this conversation, and sharing your wealth of knowledge and your passion of caring.


    • Marti Reed says

      I have a question I’ve been wondering about a lot. You wrote:

      “Yes, we did always post lookouts, even for mop-up, even when there was no real fire activity threat. He was also good for overall communication, watching for storms and such during lightning season, watching for smoke puffs to direct the Crew, and such. It was a good habit.”

      It seems to me the case, that even well after GMHS decided, for whatever reason, to leave “the black” and head out on the two-track to that ranch down there somewhere some way, and then for whatever reason blinker to the left and down into that canyon that all of us can’t believe they were dumb enough to head down into, they should have at least posted a look-out.

      Having not done THAT has been, to me at least, almost an even “dumber” decision than all the rest of the other “dumb decisions.” It has really bothered me a lot for a while, to be perfectly honest.

      I happen to be of the opinion that Eric Marsh, without evidence to the contrary, didn’t intend for them to go down that way.

      I really don’t know what to make of this whole point. And I think it may be actually more critical than we have realized. I really have a hard time conceiving of going down into that brush-filled canyon without a lookout, even if they thought they had time and weather conditions on their side of the bet (which they didn’t and Chuck Maxwell was desperately trying to figure out in Albuquerque how to communicate to them).

      • Robert the Second says


        Yes, “they should have at least posted a lookout.” It’s one of the Fire Orders (5) one of the Watch Outs (3), and one of the prongs of LCES. Marsh and the GMHS KNEW these things and yet went into a death trap anyway, without the benefit of a lookout. It was a VERY STUPID thing to do by NOT posting a lookout to at least warn them of the fire’s movements, position, speed, and such. This is one of the dumb moves these guys made where I contend the Groupthink mentality was in force. I trained a lot of those guys, they KNEW better.

        When you have an experienced, skilled lookout posted, it’s a very comfortable feeling knowing that someone you trust is watching out for you and your Crew.

        If you contact the Albuquerque NWS any more, get in touch with Brent Wachter, since he was the lead meteorologist on the SAIT. [email protected]

        • Marti Reed says

          Thx for your reply. This has been on my peripheral vision, but bugging me hugely. And thx for the hedzup and email link about Brent.

  44. Robert the Second says

    Marti Reed,

    I’m reposting this here because you apparently missed it posted above. It may help with one of your B/K radio questions.

    “Marti Reed on January 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm said: My Radio List … “wondering if it was a different kind of radio. It’s a Bendex. Short antenna.”

    There is a new Bendix King “P-series radio” now that’s smaller, about half the size of the older B/K handheld radios. Check out the link below and see if that helps any.

    And as far as the NUMBER of radios used on the Crew, eleven (11) is A LOT of radios to be on the Crew at any one time. TOTALLY, it’s NOT, but to have that many at one time on the Crew is a lot, I think.

    Fullsail, Gary, Bob – how many radios did you carry at any one time on the firelines on Flagstaff, Happy Jack or Santa Fe, and Oak Grove? I kinda doubt you carried eleven at a time.

    We had that many TOTAL radios but only carried eight (8) on the fireline at any one time, that was plenty. One each for the Supt, Foreman, Squad Bosses, Senior Crewmembers, and a Sawyer or two while on the fireline. The others we carried as ‘spares’ in case any went Tango-Uniform.”

    • Marti Reed says

      RTS I did see that and responded that, actually, there were TWELVE radios, when you include Brendan’s. And thank you for the link. I’m going to do a little comparison and that definitely will help.

      The more I think about it, the more I’m thinking they may have borrowed some radios from PFD. Chris’ radio had a label on it which said “CHRIS.” I didn’t see any more with names on them. But camera direction had a lot to do with that. I was wondering if other folks had that kind of “ownership” of their radios. Some showed a “Prescott Fire Department” label on them. I’m just working off the top of my head here, not looking at the photos. It still seems like 12 is a heck-of-a-lot of radios to be actually hauling around out there in packs.

      And also something that shows my non-familiarity with radios. I’ve been trying to get a bead on how they’re used. Sometimes it seems they’re used hand-held, and sometimes (like in that photo/videos of Jesse Steed, he’s using a microphone attached to a radio that is, I guess, clipped to a pack pocket, it looks like. The mic is attached to the radio with a coiled cord. What’s that microphone actually called?

      Also. One of the piles with a radio that is probably a pack, has something that is the right size and shape of a radio that looks like some kind of a case. Do folks use cases on their radios?

      Actually, it would be really great to have ppl w/hot shot experiece look at those YCSO photos that Elizabeth has provided us with. I see all kinds of things that I have absolutely no idea what they are. It’s pretty much a waste of my time for me to try to figure out and describe what all’s lying around, For example I don’t know what a rhino is. This is just pretty way out of my skills level to say much of anything more about the site.

      I just took on the deployment site because I saw Chris’ camera lying there right in the middle of it and decided to try to figure out what happened to it, because cameras and photographs ARE very much in my skills level. And along the way I had to learn/figure out a whole bunch of things I knew nothing about previously. But I’m really trying to wrap up this project. I’m willing to answer questions as I can, but I’m not going to be doing very much more digging, unless something in particular captures my fancy.

      • Robert the Second says


        Some WFF use a radio and/or chest harness, some carry them at their waist and use the microphone cord attched to their collar or shirt (you had it right), some use hard cases that come with each radio, some in a side pouch of their fire pack, several different ways. Usually you want to be able to get to it quickly to switch channels or whatever.

        A “RHINO” is a shovel that is cut off at the tip and then the shovel portion is bent over backwards. It kinda looks like a big hoe maybe.

  45. calvin says

    P27 SAIR….The aircraft crew is in the middle of a discussion with OPS1 on the air-to-ground frequency and the pilot is talking to the VLAT on the air-to-air frequency when an overmodulated and static-filled transmission comes over the air-to-ground frequency at 1639:

    WTKTT and Sitta…. It appears the first part of the helmet camera captures the conversation between B33 and OPS1. The same OPS1 who said something about Air Support, down there, ASAP less than one hour earlier.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Calvin… yes. I don’t think there’s any question those are the
      same moments.

      Regarding your previous observation about that being Willis
      near the later half of this same contiguous video. You are
      absolutely right. It IS Willis… just moments after the
      deployment… telling someone he is ‘coming down’ from
      where he is… near the ICP up at the Model Creek School
      in Peeples Valley.

      Guess who that is he is speaking with?

      I am almost certain it is Brendan McDonough.
      See what you think.
      The voice matches his public video interviews.

      That would mean that Willis most certainly did not ‘first hear
      of the deployment’ from OPS1 Todd Abel in a CELLPHONE
      call at 4:45 PM ( as he said in his SAIT inverview ).

      It means Willis WAS ‘listening’ in real time and just seconds
      after the deployment he was trying to verify where Brendan
      was and was already ‘heading down there’.

      >> calvin also wrote…
      >> P27 SAIR
      >> …an overmodulated and static-filled transmission comes
      >> over the air-to-ground frequency at 1639:

      That is the SAIR narrative about to report Captain Jesse
      Steed’s first MAYDAY… “We are in front of the flaming front”.

      However… I have listened to that moment now over and over
      and I believe the SAIR’s description of it is just plain WRONG.

      It is NOT “over-modulated” and/or “static filled”.

      Jesse Steed is actually YELLING ( almost at the top of his
      lungs ) because there are at least TWO chain saws running
      full-blast right there next to him. He is YELLING just as much
      to hear himself as for the benefit of anyone listening.

      Give that moment another close listen yourself and see
      what you think.

      If the saws were actually running already even on that first
      MAYDAY call from Steed then that would actually change
      the entire timeline as to when they actually first realized they
      were in danger.

      It would means a whole bunch of things had ALREADY happened
      before that first MAYDAY call from Steed and a fair amount of time
      had gone by before we hear from Steed.


      1) They actually realized they were in trouble.
      2) The spread-out single line of men had to ‘pull up’ into a group.
      3) A terrible decision had to be made.
      4) A place to deploy had to be found.
      5) Everyone had to assemble into that ‘found’ place.
      6) Everyone had to be instructed what to do then.
      7) The sawyers had to pull the chain travel sleeves,
      pull the ropes, fire up, and get to work.
      8) Steed had to ‘select’ Channel 16 on purpose.
      ( He messes up and actually picks Channel 10 instead…
      but perfectly understandable given circumstances ).
      9) Steed sends the first MAYDAY call out on Air-To-Ground (Ch 10).

      This could actually put the moment they realized they were in
      deep trouble all the way back to mere SECONDS after the
      moment two minutes before the MAYDAY when we also heard
      Marsh casually transmit “That’s where we want retardant” at 1637.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Also… followup… while you are giving another listen
        to those points in the video… stop and listen closely
        to that first ‘static from the deployment’ site transmission
        just after the helmet-cam operator has gotten back
        in his truck and is leaving the Shrine parking lot.

        It is NOT just static. There is a VOICE in there trying
        to SAY something.

        I can’t quite make it out. Maybe you can.

        Best I can make out is that the caller is saying
        something about “the bowl”… like… “We are in
        the center of the bowl”… or something like that.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Calvin… scratch last post. I listened to it again
          just now and the VOICE in there doesn’t seem
          to say enough words for something like…

          “We are in the center of the bowl”.

          It’s too short…. but I still think last word is ‘bowl’.

          Could have only had time to say something like…

          “We are in the bowl”.

      • calvin says

        I believe you are right that the first “screaming” we are in front of the flaming front is because of the roaring chainsaws around him. (great catch)
        I do not think Willis is speaking to Mcdonough… I just do not hear his voice there. Also, I am just wondering if Willis could have been referring to coming out by the Store All from the area directly west of 89 and not from the north. Remember, Tony Sciacca parked in that area, and I just do not think he took off walking.
        Also, have you seen the McDonough picture after getting in Supt truck and driving (possibly north on 89)? Actually it appears there are three of those pictures.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Calvin… see a long post below about the
          McDonough Highway 89 pictures.

          Those 3 pics were all taken just 2 seconds apart
          as McDonough exited the Sesame area through
          Lakewood Drive in Glen Ilah. He had just emerged
          from Glen Ilah and turned north on Hwy 89 when
          he snapped those pics at 4:02 PM…

          That is EXACTLY the same moment Christopher
          was filming his videos out west.

          So we already knew that Brendan heard all
          the crucial conversations. Now we know
          EXACTLY where he was when he did.

          He was not ‘outside’ somewhere.
          He did not ‘go to the bathroom’ or anything.
          He was sitting right there (alone) in the GM
          Supervisor truck hearing EVERYTHING.

          I still think that *may* be him talking to Willis
          in the helmet-cam video… but you are right…
          that’s going to take some more ‘ear work’.

      • calvin says

        WTKTT said….This could actually put the moment they realized they were in
        deep trouble all the way back to mere SECONDS after the
        moment two minutes before the MAYDAY when we also heard
        Marsh casually transmit “That’s where we want retardant” at 1637.
        I agree 100%
        When the helmet camera begins videoing, the camera operator is fully aware of the situation that is unfolding. He didn’t just happen to turn on the camera and catch this ever important sequence, he knew what was happening and turned on the video. (my opinion)

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          I agree with you, Calvin. I think that was happening
          all day long… from why Christopher MacKenzie
          would chose the moment he did to shoot the
          (apparently) only 2 videos he did… to the new
          YARNELL_GAMBLE video, to the only video
          that McDonough shot which almost captures
          the mid-air collision. Others…

          In each case… I think the camera operator just
          knew something important was happening or
          just about to happen. Something unusual.
          Something ‘out of the ordinary’.

  46. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    >> On January 11, 2014 at 9:34 pm, Marti Reed said…
    >> According to the SAIR, 11 were found wearing gloves.
    >> Of the eight not indicated, five were found outside their shelters…
    >> with all that implies… so who can possibly know whether they
    >> were wearing gloves or not.
    >> On January 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm, Gary Olson responded…
    >> Thanks for the info. FYI – I don’t think leather gloves would have
    >> been entirely consumed by the fire even on those who were
    >> outside their shelters. So…maybe we could mark that one down
    >> to a Lesson Learned from the Yarnell Hill Fire? Remind and
    >> reemphasize to all wildland firefighters to keep track of their gloves,
    >> wear their gloves, and have an extra pair of gloves in their fire
    >> shelters pouches?
    >> On January 13, 2014 at 8:31 am, Marti Reed responded…
    >> I do think the evidence may lean in that direction.

    There is, in fact, every reason to believe that for any firefighters NOT wearing
    gloves at deployment time there was a greater chance they wouldn’t be able to
    hold onto their shelters when the heat at the edges rose…

    …but before anyone makes that a direct ‘takeaway’ from the Yarnell Fire I think
    an important thing needs to be considered.

    Just because the SAIR said certain men were found outside their shelters, or that
    their shelters had been ‘blown off’ them because of ‘winds at the deployment site’
    ( or because they lost their grip ) doesn’t mean that is actually TRUE.

    Now that the Non-redacted Police Reports are available there is new evidence
    that many/most of the shelters that might have ‘blown off’ the firefighters at the
    site didn’t happen because of any fire winds or because they weren’t able to
    ‘hang on’ to them ( for glove related or whatever reasons )…

    …there is now evidence that many/most of them may have been simply
    ‘blown off’ the firefighters long after the burnover event when the Ranger 58
    Rescue Helicopter tried to make TWO separate ‘close’ landings at the
    deployment site.

    In his testimony… DPS Medic Eric Tarr says that once they found the collection
    of shelters from the air they ‘circled the site at LOW altitude’ for a while and then
    made at least TWO separate attempts to land close by… but the chopper was
    kicking up too much ash and dust to complete the ‘close’ landings.

    That’s when the pilot ‘backed off’ and landed at a spot 500 yards away and Tarr
    then exited the chopper and hiked over to the deployment site.

    The Pilot’s testimony ( see below ) confirms these attempted ‘close’ landings
    right near the deployment site and also confirms that he had to ‘abort’ each of
    those attempts as the powerful rotor wash started hitting the ground near the
    site and kicking up too much ash and dust for a safe landing.

    If the rotor wash during the attempted ‘close’ landings was kicking up so much
    ash and dust that it made it dangerous to complete the landings then the same
    powerful rotor wash could have been blowing things around at the deployment
    site itself.

    DPS Officer Charles Main was also onboard that Ranger 58 helicopter.

    While Ranger 58 was ‘circling at LOW altitude’ and ‘observing the site’, and
    BEFORE the Ranger 58 helicopter had made those several attempts to land
    right there near the deployment site… Officer Main has now said in HIS testimony
    that he only saw ‘2 to 3 identifiable bodies’ ( not under shelters ) down there
    at the site.

    After these multiple (close) landing attempts ( and then the real landing 500
    yards away ) and Officer Tarr arrived at the site on foot… he is then only
    reporting ‘about 5’ firefighters inside shelters at all with the rest ( about 14 )
    being “outside their shelters and obviously deceased”.

    That’s quite a difference in ‘observations’ as to who was or was not
    ‘inside a shelter’ just a few minutes apart.

    It is *possible*, then, that the several attempted ‘close’ landings by the
    Ranger 58 helicopter itself is what actually BLEW many/most of the shelters
    OFF of the firefighters… and NOT any ‘fire winds’ as reported by the SAIR
    or any speculation about who was or wasn’t able to ‘hang onto the sides
    of their shelter’ during the burnover for whatever reasons.


    From page 89 of the SAIR…

    Individual PPE Analysis: ( from SAIT Deployment Site Analysis ).


    7 firefighters fully deployed, completely in shelters.
    4 firefighters mostly deployed, almost completely in shelters.
    5 firefighters not fully deployed, shelters found underneath them.
    3 firefighters not fully deployed, shelters found beside them.

    So according to the SAIR… 11 firefighters would have appeared to have been
    ‘fully inside’ their shelters from a helicopter circling at LOW altitude and
    ‘observing the site’… but 8 of them should have appeared to have been
    ‘outside their shelters’ from the same low-altitude vantage point.

    DPS Officer Main, in the chopper at that time, only reported being able to see ONLY ‘2 or 3 bodies’ ( outside shelters ) from the helicopter. Officer Main was
    able to see the site clearly enough to only see 2-3 bodies and also clearly
    enough to observe that the shelters ‘did not appear to survive the intense fire’,
    so they must have been pretty LOW at that time and must have had a pretty
    good view of what was below when he made these ‘observations’.

    Officer Main’s signed testimony doesn’t match what the SAIR eventually
    said about the deployment site ( and fire shelters ) at all.

    Ranger 58 did, in fact, take AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS of the deployment site,
    exactly the way it looked just 2 hours after the burnover… but unfortunately
    they didn’t take these deployment site photographs until AFTER they had
    already tried to make the TWO ‘close landings’ near the site itself.

    Below is the actual testimony that talks all about these observations and the ‘low
    altitude’ circling and the multiple (aborted) attempts to LAND the helicopter right
    there near the deployment site.

    These DPS Officer testimony excerpts come from the original document
    posted online by Mr. John Dougherty at this link…


    Page 10 of the Non-redacted YCSO Police Report…
    Testimony of Officer/Paramedic Charles Main #6868,
    Arizona Department of Public Safety
    Duty Aircraft, Phoenix Ranger N58AZ, Bell 407 Helicopter.

    At approximately 1810 hours, the shelters were found in the area of co-ordinates
    34 13.22N, 112 46.07W. Officer/Paramedic Tarr spotted the shelters and Ranger
    flew over the area to get an initial observation of the situation. Officer/Paramedic
    Tarr stated he needed to get down to the scene to be able to verify if there were
    any survivors. I was able to see 2-3 bodies outside of the shelters and the
    shelters initially did not appear to survive the intense fire.

    Page 7 of the Non-redacted YCSO Police Report…
    Testimony of Officer/Paramedic Eric Tarr #5569,
    Arizona Department of Public Safety
    Duty Aircraft, Phoenix Ranger N58AZ, Bell 407 Helicopter.

    I saw the ranch house appear through the smoke and knew the Firefighters had
    said they were trying to get to a ranch house from their prior radio transmissions.
    We began searching towards the Ranch house from the ridgeline when I located
    a group of deployed fire shelters off the nose of the aircraft at approximately 1810
    hours. I directed the pilot to the location of the fire shelters where we circled at
    low altitude. We attempted TWICE to land CLOSER to the scene but the area
    was still hot with too much blowing ash and dust to land safely. ( Later, after
    landing 500 yards away and hiking to the site…) As I approached the (deployed)
    shelters I observed multiple firefighters who were obviously deceased. I had not
    seen this from the air, but had been advised by Officer Main that he had seen
    what appeared to be ( 2-3 ) bodies at the site from the air. The majority ( 10+ )
    of the Firefighters were obviously deceased and lying outside of their shelters in
    various positions. There were approximately 5 fire shelters that appeared to be
    intact which had Firefighters still under them. (Later) While I was taping off the
    south side of the scene, Ranger 58 arrived back over the scene and advised me
    they had a Yavapai County Sheriff Deputy on board and were taking aerial
    photographs of the scene.

    Page 13 of the Non-redacted YCSO Police Report…
    Testimony of Pilot Clifford Brunsting #4589,
    Arizona Department of Public Safety
    Duty Aircraft, Phoenix Ranger N58AZ, Bell 407 Helicopter.

    At 1812 hours as I was descending down the ridge towards the ranch Officer
    Tarr spotted some shelters to the left of the aircraft down in the flat area.
    I made a left hand turn towards the shelters and circled them in a counter
    clockwise pattern. There was clearly a cluster of fire shelters in the area but
    as we circled we saw no movement or signs of life. Officer Tarr relayed these
    coordinates to Air Attack at this time. I attempted several landings in rocky areas
    nearby but was unable to land because of the heat and ash that the rotor system
    stirred up. I was afraid of possible damage to the engine if I flew in a cloud of ash
    for a prolonged period of time but I wanted to find a safe place to land to get a
    medic on scene. Turning towards the ranch I realized that it would be impossible
    to land there because of obstructions and it also looked very dusty. I located a
    small clearing just north of the ranch along a road that I thought I could fit into
    with minimal dust which was also about 4 to 5 hundred yards from the scene
    and accessible by foot. I made a safe landing there and Officer Tarr exited the
    aircraft with his medical bag and a fire shelter and proceeded to the area of the
    deployed shelters.

    • Marti Reed says

      Thank you! This may actually be why some of the shelter locations didn’t make any sense when I tried to sync them to the Body Map. It really stumped me. I had to make what felt to me to be some pretty wild guesses. And it’s hard to describe in sentences what I was trying to figure out, so I just didn’t say anything about it. But what you’re describing here does make those weird shelter locations in the YCSO photos make a lot more sense.

      • Bob Powers says

        The 5 with shelters underneath them is interesting. Would indicate for sure that they absolutely did not deploy My guess. Which means the hot air or fire hit them fast. A question was Marsh 1 of those 5?

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Mr. Powers… you should read the ‘Non-redacted’
          police reports posted by Mr. Dougherty at the
          link above.

          The incident reports from all 3 Ranger 58 officers
          ( Medic Tarr included ) are very professional and
          not ‘gross’ in any way… but there ARE some
          details in there about exactly what Medic Tarr
          had to do at the site to confirm the condition
          of every firefighter. He talks in there about some
          rigor and having to have ‘rolled’ and/or ‘turned’
          some victims to do his job. He says that he
          tried to ‘turn them back over’ as best he could
          but that activity might account for why some of
          the shelters ended up UNDER some of the
          firefighters by the time the SAIT got to inspect
          the site.

          The shelters might have been just sort of
          ‘beside’ them or ‘partially blown off’ by either
          the fire or helicopter approaches… but in
          the course of Tarr ‘turning’ or ‘rolling’ to do his
          important job they may have ended up ‘on
          top of’ those shelters.

          As for Eric Marsh… you may be right.
          The report on his ‘Shelter use’ in the SAIR
          indicates his deployment position was closer
          to the oncoming fire / gases than anyone else
          and the evidence suggests he was still in the
          act of ‘stepping into’ his shelter when something
          prevented him from even finishing that task.

          From the SAIR…

          Eric Marsh, Granite Mountain #1
          4. Shelter Use –The firefighter was not fully
          deployed. Feet were through the separated
          end cap seam, most of the shelter was found
          by the right side of the firefighter.

          • Bob Powers says

            As the Superintendent he would have been last in making sure the others were deployed or deploying. He was responsible.

    • Bob Powers says

      Also the way the shelters burned may have disconnected the hold down straps. Wind or the Helicopter would have moved them off the bodies. This is a important part of info for Fire shelter people.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Yes. I honestly don’t think DPS Pilot Clifford Brunsting was
        TRYING to ‘disturb the site’ in those moments but I think
        we all have to imagine the circumstances.

        The had just found 19 firefighters on the ground.
        Officer Main said he could only see 2-3 obvious
        ‘bodies’ outside of shelters.

        That means the condition of 16 other men was hidden
        from their view and they might have still been alive.

        I don’t think they were caring too much about whether
        they were going to blow some fire shelters around
        at that point. The point was (of course) to get Medic
        Tarr onto the ground ASAP.

        We have exact lat/long for where the Pilot actually
        set down ( a small clearing north of the ranch ) but
        we don’t have exact coordinates for the multiple
        attempted ‘close landings’.

        Regardless… I imagine you have been pretty near some
        choppers in your day when they are both landing
        AND charging the rotors for ascent.

        If you are anywhere near them… you are going to at
        least lose your hat… real quick.

  47. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    ** ADOSH Transcripts of Darrell Willis Interview(s).

    >> WTKTT asked Elizabeth…
    >> Elizabeth… exactly where are these ‘transcriptions of the ADOSH
    >> interviews with Darrell Willis’ you are quoting from?
    >> Are they actually online somewhere?
    >> I only just now saw that Mr. Dougherty has now uploaded TONS more stuff
    >> but I was wondering what ‘category’ these documents are in?

    Elizabeth… apologies… I asked the question above before I found your
    other post WAY up above that answers this question.

    >> On January 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm, Elizabeth said…
    >> Willis says in his interview (transcribed and provided by ADOSH to me)…

    So these transcriptions just came directly from ADOSH and are NOT part
    of the SAIT FOIA/FOIL package, then, right?

    Does that transcript go anywhere near the 3:45 PM to 4:05 PM timeframe?

    Is there anything in there to match what Willis has said in a number of
    public interviews ( including ) about him “Clicking back
    onto GM’s private frequency circa 4:00 PM”?

    Willis has said in his SAIT ( YIN ) interview that the first he heard of the
    deployment was when OPS1 ( Todd Abel ) called him on the PHONE
    circa 4:45 – 4:50 to tell him about it.

    In any number of public interviews… he has now admitted that he had
    heard the radio transmissions in real time because he had, in fact,
    been “listening to their frequency” all along ( and since 4:00 PM ?? ).

    What did he have to say to ADOSH about all this?

  48. Robert the Second says

    Reposting this one down here:


    I’m jumping back in here on this probability debacle. As Mike said above “With all due respect, you have it ass backwards.” I have to totally agree with his assessment, and I echo that sentiment because if I use my own, it would be much more crass.

    You stated many times now about wearing gloves to avoid callouses and blisters. You don’t get it. We WANT callouses and blisters turn into callouses. The reason we wear gloves is to PREVENT 2ND AND THIRD DEGREE THERMAL RADIANT HEAT BURNS. Wearing gloves has absolutely NOTHING to do with getting callouses.

    I think Fullsail was right when he said you have never fought fire before.

    There’s more …. do you read your horoscope everyday to decide whether or not to do something? Do you consult a Ouija Board or go for palm readings on a regular basis? How about the Tarot Card route? Those are allbased on probability aren’t they?

    I asked you earlier to indicate where, in any of ‘The WFF Rules’ there was any mention of ‘probabilities’ and still haven’t seen any provided yet. Let me help you, since you’ve probably been busy looking for those boulder SZ incidents. Fire Order number “Post lookouts when there is POSSIBLE danger” (EMPHASIS ADDED). Do you consider the word ‘possible’ to be equivalent to, or at least synonomous to ‘probable?’ Probable is the root word of probability, so that’s why I mentioned it.

    We post lookouts ALL the time, not just when there is ‘possible’ danger.

    You said “They did lose the ATV of course. That’s probability at work.” Are you serious here? NO, it’s NOT “probability at work.” It was STUPIDITY. They lost their ATV for being stupid, doing dumb things (actions). They were told (cautioned) several tmes by line overhead AND other HS Superintendents NOT to continue with their unsafe and unsuccessful actions. The result was a BAD OUTCOME. The burned up ATV had NOTHING to do with probability.

    • NV says


      With all respect, you’re off the rails here. Anyone can read my comments, and note that I said wearing gloves helps prevent life-changing injuries (burns) and worse. Going gloveless among other things does show your hands have toughened up. Going gloveless does also results in occasional nicks, even on the toughest hands, and depending on the vegetation you’re dealing with, sometimes worse. But, none of those are life-changing, and as long as someone doesn’t complain about discomfort, or get an infected finger from what they thought was a harmless thorn, not a big deal without the more-severe, and more rare, risks.

      As for horoscopes being based on probability, or tarot cards, I really don’t know how to respond to that. I believe most thinking people understand that they are based on making people feel good, and not on the actual probability of something happening. As an extreme example, basing any life decisions on the fortune in a fortune cookie would be foolish, even if that cookie claims to tell the future.

      Basically, you seem to be ignoring the plain words I’ve written. And completely confused as to what probability actually is as a concept. You don’t even seem to understand that the phrase “bad decisions with good outcomes” relies on odds, probability, whatever you want to call it, to make the point that a good outcome doesn’t show that a safe decision was made. For anyone still a WFF reading this who likewise doesn’t understand that probability underlies this concept, they should be very concerned, and go back and study more on this.

      These are simple concepts that we all apply, every day. Is it safe to drive buzzed, even if you get home safe? Safe to smoke a little weed before work, if you’ve never had an issue? Safe to put an inexperienced lookout way out in Mongolia and allow him to wander around looking at deployment sites that likely won’t be survivable, because someone did come by and pick him up?

      As for the ATV, the point is there is a recurring pattern of bad decisions. Some, with no consequence. One day, on one fire, their ATV did get burned; could have been worse if they’d been unlucky, and that could have been another day with no ACTUAL consequence. Sooner or later, they were going to have a really bad consequence, which they did. If you don’t understand how repeated unsafe actions will lead to bad results sooner or later, but not necessarily at any given point, and how probability relates to that, then you really should not be speaking on this topic. Period.

      Go flip a coin. Treat heads as good, tails as a real bad outcome, let’s say a fatality. Even at 50/50 for each coin flip, if you flip that coin 100 times, you’ll probably have some sequences where you get heads a number of times in a row. It doesn’t make it safe, and though 50/50 are really bad odds relative to what GM was doing, it’s the same concept.

      • Bob Powers says

        WTF*** are you talking about. The 10 Standard Orders are not probability’s they are out comes that caused Fatalities. Some body or Bodies did not follow 1 or several and died. There is only 1 probability don’t follow them and your out come is death. And yes there are times during containment and mop up that posting a LO is very smart and done for safety.

        • NV says

          Again, I don’t know what to say. Don’t follow one of the 10 standing orders and your TYPICAL outcome is that nothing bad happens. Particularly if you ignore only one of the 10. IF you ignore them long enough, though, sooner or later, something bad happens. Plain words used to describe that — “odds are, something bad happens sooner or later”, “chances are, something will catch up with you” — use concepts of probability. As they should. As we have already seen in this thread, GM seems multiple times to have engaged in behavior that carried a high risk (“risk” is another probability-type concept) of a bad outcome. But, they had fatalities on only one fire. Looking at the YHF, I actually would still say their lookout was at a greater likelihood of something bad happening than the rest of the crew — and the lookout is fine. Thankfully, odds of a bad outcome didn’t catch up, there.

    • Gary Olson says

      So…I guess this means we can’t agree that we are talking about the same thing, just describing it different ways?

      Oh…and by the way…do you always post lookouts while mopping up a fire? Since…”We post lookouts ALL the time, not just when there is ‘possible’ danger.”

      Because I never did as there was a very low probability of being burned over even though the fire was not technically “controlled” yet. This was part of my “pushing the envelope” strategy I had everybody putting out smokes, including me since we wanted to go to the next fire.

      There isn’t anybody in the country who has more wildland firefighting experience than I do as a hotshot (doing the same thing more times does not mean you have more of it) I saw it all and did it all, at least once.

      And I agree completely with NV…now what Robert the Second?

      • Bob Powers says

        I am afraid Gary that RTS will beat you in time as a Hot Shot and I know he has over 20 years and I could not guess the number of fires I think he saw it all and did it all twice over in R3 and R5.
        Sorry I do not agree with you on this one.

        • Gary Olson says

          I did not say lots of people could not beat me on time, I know several myself, but I don’t know and don’t believe anybody has more EXPERIENCE than I do, time on the job does not equal experience since some people can get a lifetime’s worth of experience in one season. But that’s not really the point either Bob, please read my post below, and good luck to you. You had one hell of a ride, I think we all did!

      • mike says

        I don’t think we disagree all that much, the hang-up is the idea of “using probability”. To me that means taking calculated risks, I hope everyone thinks that is dumb. NV’s answer above suggested “using probability” to reject those activities that were not safe beyond a reasonable doubt. If that is what NV and Gary mean by “using probability” I can agree with that. If you mean taking calculated risks, you are nuts.

        • NV says


          I think that says it well. I am sorry if I sound heated up above, but I frankly felt like some people haven’t read what I wrote and actually were somewhat inverting what I was saying. Maybe probability sounds too much like gambling to some people, which I am not at all advocating, and saying that bad decisions tend to catch up with you even if you get away with them at first is a way to express the same concept that may not have the same emotional reaction.

          • Bob Powers says

            You went around the bush so many times that I forgot where the rabbet was. Your last statement brought me back to what you were trying to say. Which I totally misinterpreted.

      • Gary Olson says

        Oh…and one more thing Mr. Shirt Sleeves Must Be Down At All Times. The rules require gloves to be worn at all time is a rule, unless things have really, really, really, changed. I never personally wanted, or wanted any of my crew to get blisters so they could get calloused hands because blisters can become infected and lots of other reasons, like you need to know where your gloves are at all time in case you have to deploy one of those ******* turkey roasting bags. And a firefighter cannot possibly be as effective at swinging a tool for countless hours with blisters on their hands.

        You know, there is nothing but sadness and grief and controversy on this site and with this topic. And what’s much, much, much, worse, all of those who loved the Granite Mountain Hotshots hate me (us) anyway because they want to believe the leadership of their crew, Marsh, Steed and Willis are heroes and were/are really squared away wildland firefighters and they want to believe all of their loved ones were killed by a monster blaze that suddenly switched directions and cut off their escape route and they all died together…as hero’s, since it couldn’t be helped, and GOD JUST HAD ANOTHER PLAN FOR THOSE 19 MEN! Have it your way, they were all heroes, and God wanted to call them home. You win.

        So I say fine…let’s just go with that story and the one all of the liars who were part of the SAIT put together. American needs heroes! We make more almost every day in Afghanistan and we made lots of them in that unfunded war of choice in Iraq. One thing that has come with my age…is my appreciation for life.

        So fine…let’s just add the Granite Mountain Hotshots to the list and Chief Willis can keep traveling around the country telling lies, feeling good about himself and handing out Granite Mountain Hotshot pins and patches or whatever he gives out so people can feel sorry for him and shed a tear or two in his glorious presence, since he thinks he is God’s messenger anyway (Sweet Baby Jesus, How ****** Is That ***hole), although I would call that lousy son-of-a-bitch bastard the Angel of Death, who is directly responsible for the deaths of 19 men!

        Oh, and if anybody wants to sue me, I’m in the phone book in Flagstaff, Arizona (I’m not really in the phone book, but I’m not that hard to find…just look, I’ll be waiting for you).

        For the last time…I am checking out of this disaster, I didn’t cause it and I have already given way to much time to it. Besides, all I have to add is background information and my random thoughts and I am just about out those, so I am not really relevant to figuring out what really happened anyway.

        However, I still want to help IF anybody thinks there is anything I can add and since I won’t be checking this site again…please email me your questions at: [email protected]

        Thank you and good luck!

      • Elizabeth says

        What we have here is a failure to communicate. RTS and Bob are reading meaning into the word “probability” that NV does not intend. Sitta did a bang-up job of clarifying up above, and there is also a helpful post with a sports analogy. Go look for both posts – they are worth reading (one of them mentions football and one mentions “game theory” (which is normally viewed as an economics doctrine, I think….).)

        Let us be clear on one thing: NV is not saying “go roll your dice, consult the Vegas odds, and then go fight your fire.” NV has NEVER said that.

        Either way, maybe it is time for us to agree that we are not having our best discourse on this topic, and we need a time-out or we need to move on to a new topic. Maybe it is time for us to get off this topic and start asking RTS more questions about who he thinks were on cell phones with each other during the fire. Is your real name “Robert,” RTS, or did you make that up? (I am only asking because I have started calling you “Bob” in my own mind, but maybe that is wrong. 🙂 )

        • Bob Powers says

          No on RTS and I am Bob and my problem is what you already know so I can agree to disagree. But the 10 Standard orders are and will always be the Bible to me. And Gary I thought we agreed to disagree at times you have added some great insight here please check back occasionally.

      • Sitta says

        Exactly, Gary. Reposting because I think it got missed above:

        It seems to me that the two camps are defining “probability” differently. The [Bob Powers, RTS] version seems synonymous with random chance (or taking chances), whereas the [NV, Gary Olson] version refers to the total possible outcomes, and taking into account events that haven’t happened yet. We all agree that WFFs put themselves in danger by disregarding all possible outcomes.

        You’re all arguing the SAME THING with regards to fireline safety. Follow the safety rules, because they prepare us for ALL outcomes, not just the most likely ones, or the ones we’ve personally experienced.

        Where do you think the safety rules come from, if not from people who consider probability? They look at worst case scenarios, and decide whether probability = 0, or whether it’s high enough (even if incredibly small) that lives/health/livelihood can be saved by modifying behavior across the board.

        As Mike said [earlier, above], “You do not base safety decisions on your experience.” Whether we are safe because we are well trained and always follow the rules, or because we recognize that those rules were based on a scrutiny of possible outcomes, doesn’t matter so much as the our treating safety seriously. We’re both getting to the same appropriate behavior, whether by left-brained math, or right-brained intuition and culture.

        • Sitta says

          Oops. Looks like things developed while I was slowly working through my post. I think we’ve all figured it out.

          Umm, just to be clear, I agree with Gary’s original response regarding probability. I don’t know, maybe I agree with the part about our culture making way too many “heroes” lately, too. But I also think that GM did a lot of things better than right (for a few examples, they were in super shape, Marsh arranged training for themselves AND many others, and they equipped themselves the best they could with what is shocking lack of support from their city leaders). I’ve been doing some reading about sleep deprivation, and I am convinced that it’s a factor in this and other tragedies. And I’ve yet to see the WFF who isn’t guilty of compromising the safety of alertness in order to keep working. Our work/rest rules virtually ensure this. None of us should be holier-than-thou.

        • Elizabeth says

          Your FOURTH full paragraph above, Sitta, is key. I tried to say it, and I said it poorly, so I deleted the comment before I posted it. The reality is that the 10 and 18 and LACES and LCES *come* from probability. The rule “Don’t Drink and Drive” is similarly based on PROBABILITIES. Expert realized that the PROBABILITY of people having a fatal or damaging accident INCREASES if you drink and drive, so we came up with the RULE of “Don’t Drink and Drive.” It is based on probabilities. Let’s keep the PROBABILITY of getting into a damaging accident as low as possible.

          Thank you, Sitta, for bringing some clarity to this discussion. You and NV are incredibly important to this discussion – as everyone is! – so I personally commend your diligence (both yours and NV’s) in looking for ways to make your points.

          One crucial point made by NV and, interestingly, supported by RTS, is that if a Hotshot team cuts corners (e.g. keeps their sleeves rolled UP) and gets away with it (e.g. nobody got burned), that team is likely to become a bit more complacent in the FUTURE (“we never got burned before so obviously rolling down sleeves is not crucial…”). That can lead to ignoring basic, simple rules in the future, because you start to believe that you can get away with it….

          But now I am just repeating NV.

          • calvin says

            Agree Elizabeth. You would have to think that an incident like loosing your UTV/ATV would put a check on the complacency. I wonder if there was any type of disciplinary action for that incident? The video over at Wildfire Today that shows the burned remains of the UTV/ATV and it being loaded into the truck doesn’t seem to be ….how should I say…. a point of shame or embarrassment. It just doesn’t seem appropriate to show in the video. I also wonder if loosing the UTV/ATV had anything to do with the GM crew existence being in question by City Council

            • Marti Reed says

              I would love to see that video, but haven’t come across it, yet. Do you have a link?

              I’ve been reading this discussion but not found it worth responding much. I totally understand and agree with you and Sitta and Gary. This is just a waste of oxygen at this point.

              My dad (with me assisting him) did the weather forecasting for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for 16 years. And you betcha it was all about probabilities, and all the 600 or so pilots and their crews knew exactly that. And that’s exactly where The Rules came from.

              My dad couldn’t enforce the rules. He could only issue the forecast and his opinion about what that meant. If the Management decided they will willing to break the rules (which they understand were based on probabilities) becuz they were under pressure by the finances of that operation, there wasn’t a damn thing my dad could do about that. And just about every time they decided they needed a launch that day with iffy weather, becuz it might cost a couple million bucks not to, somebody got injured, and sometimes somebody got killed. And those 600 pilots and crews trusted my dad way more than they did the management. At least the ones that stayed alive.

              But, yes, it’s all about probabilities. Beyond that, this is just an argument about semantics.

              So where’s Eric Marsh’s cellphone?

              • calvin says

                Marti, Mr Gabbert, over at Wildfire Today posted two videos December 24 2013 related to the GM Hotshots. The segment I described occurs in the first video at the 12:20 minute mark.
                Both of the videos are worth viewing.
                I think you have a pretty good idea what happened to Marsh’s cell phone.

  49. Gary Olson says

    on January 12, 2014 at 1:57 am said:

    It made sense to me that the Yarnell Hill SAIRs weakness was in response to the lawsuits after the Thirtymile Fire:

    There was some great discussion of this on Wildfire Today:

    I’m curious what the rest of you think.

    I think you are exactly right. Which is why they should stop doing them if they can’t do them honestly for the right reasons and let the chips fall where they may. The NWCG or whoever is behind these things, should carefully look at how the National Transportation and Safety Board does theirs and then copy them, or just admit they are cowards, agency hacks and shills and quit even pretending they are anything different, because they are not fooling anyone.

  50. Gary Olson says

    Marti said, According to the SAIR, 11 were found wearing gloves. Of the eight not indicated, five were found outside their shelters–with all that implies–so who can possibly know whether they were wearing gloves or not.

    By the way, yesterday I discovered you videos on Youtube. I really appreciate them, and really really love this one:

    “The Granite Mountain Hotshots”
    Just totally full of soul. Thank you.

    I just found this comment. Thank you. I made that right after I heard about the Granite Mountain Hotshots when I couldn’t sleep. I have seen others that have inspiring music, but I can’t find anything inspiring about this tragedy, only pain and grief.

  51. Elizabeth says

    Two things:
    1. ANCHOR THE FIRE: I am not sure if this is relevant to the discussion about Willis wanting (or not) for GM to “anchor” the fire, but this is what Willis said in his transcribed interview with ADOSH:
    “So I thought it was a point protection thing, the whole deal. I mean, it was like – from my perspective, the whole day, this fire – there’s no way you’re gonna get an anchor on it. You gotta wait until night, see where it’s ending up to do anything.”
    I take that to mean that Willis claims he did NOT tell them to anchor the fire.
    2. The PHONES/CAMERAS: This is what Willis had to say in his now-transcribed ADOSH interview regarding Chris MacKenzie’s camera:
    “We got some pictures from a camera that was MacKenzie. The Sheriff picked it up and he thought it was a burned up phone. They sent it home with the parents. Dad took it down to Walgreens. They pulled the sim card out of it and they found a whole bunch of pictures out of it.
    Q1: Oh really? Oh.
    A: And it was some of these pictures. In fact, there’s some video there of where
    the fire was sitting at this time. Almost the exact same as Parker’s.”

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Elizabeth post on January 14, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      Re 1: Mendacity.

      How does one get…

      FROM: “We’ve GOT to get an anchor on this thing.”
      TO: “So I thought it was a point protection thing, the whole deal.”

      …when you’ve already admitted in public that you told your
      employee ( Marsh ) the first thing is what you REALLY thought.

      Re 2: Total mendacity.

      Even if the “Sheriff” (does he really mean Scott Mascher himself?)
      had thought he had just picked up a ‘burned up phone’… he
      would NOT have just ‘sent it home to the parents’. No way.
      He would have given it to his own investigators, IMMEDIATELY,
      and THEY would have, in turn, IMMEDIATELY sent it over
      to Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center ( ACTIC )
      for possible data extraction just like they did everything else
      that wouldn’t simply ‘power on’.

      Besides… how do you get from Willis saying the Sheriff thought
      it was a (worthless) ‘burned up phone’ to Christopher’s father
      saying he was amazed how it was basically TOTALLY
      undamaged and the ‘cloth case wasn’t even burned’.
      Was this Sheriff a blind man, or something?

      PS: Elizabeth… exactly where are these ‘transcriptions of the
      ADOSH interviews’ you are quoting from? Are they actually
      online somewhere? I only just now saw that Mr. Dougherty
      has now uploaded TONS more stuff but I was wondering
      what ‘category’ these documents are in?
      “Reference Documents”?
      “Investigation Notes”?

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Also… how do you get from the boy’s father saying
        his stepdaughter put the SD card into her computer
        to Willis saying they took it to Walgreen’s?

        That’s what’s called ( in official investigative lingo )…
        “Not even frickin’ close”.

        Someone is ‘making their story up’ there… and somehow
        I would have a hard time believing it was a dead boy’s

        • Marti Reed says

          I totally agree with you. That’s a complete fabrication. But’s a pin I’ll put in my map of dots. Which still leads to my conclusion.

          PFD (that’s now clearly YOU Willis) is perfectly willing and able to withhold evidence when it thinks it’s in their best interest to do so.

          Including Eric Marsh’s cellphone.

          Dang, every time I think I’ve put this baby to bed (at least the part I’m most interested in), it just gets up and starts bouncing on the bed again!

          Yesterday, I went thru a lot of what JD was posting, and I didn’t come across this. So, yes, I would like to look at it, as well.

    • Marti Reed says

      Can you give me a date on that interview? So I can locate the pin on my “connecting the dots” project? Thank you!

      And truly, thank you for posting this.

  52. Robert the Second says

    Marti Reed,

    Marti Reed on January 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm said: My Radio List … “wondering if it was a different kind of radio. It’s a Bendex. Short antenna.”

    There is a new Bendix King “P-series radio” now that’s smaller, about half the size of the older B/K handheld radios. Check out the link below and see if that helps any.

    And as far as the NUMBER of radios used on the Crew, eleven (11) is A LOT of radios to be on the Crew at any one time. TOTALLY, it’s NOT, but to have that many at one time on the Crew is a lot, I think.

    Fullsail, Gary, Bob – how many radios did you carry at any one time on the firelines on Flagstaff, Happy Jack or Santa Fe, and Oak Grove? I kinda doubt you carried eleven at a time.

    We had that many TOTAL radios but only carried eight (8) on the fireline at any one time, that was plenty. One each for the Supt, Foreman, Squad Bosses, Senior Crewmembers, and a Sawyer or two while on the fireline. The others we carried as ‘spares’ in case any went Tango-Uniform.

    • Bob Powers says

      Back in the 70s normally 4 Radios– Superintendent, Asst., 2 Squad Bosses. No programmable the Superintendent would carry the assigned fire radio too. we had some common channels like air net, That started changing by the 80s. Also we had 24 total crew on the Angeles 4 supervisors 20 crewmen, 60s and 70s, there were 5 crews on the Angeles. Some crews were 20 and some were 24 in the Forest Service.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Here is another thought as to why they might have had what
      appears to be an ‘unusual’ amount of radios that day.

      As with almost everything to do with this incident… you HAVE to
      keep in mind that we are talking about the ONLY Type 1 Hotshot
      crew in the entire country ( or even EVER in the WFF business? )
      to have been ‘wholly owned and operated’ by a Municipal
      Fire Department.

      GM had it’s own tin-roof ‘station’ back in Prescott and the
      address is NOT the same as the Prescott Fire Department
      itself… but perhaps we are looking at ‘shared resources’
      here. If it was a slow day in Prescott… Marsh might have
      had permission to ‘swing by’ the PFD station and simply
      ‘borrow’ more BK radios than they would normally even
      carry with them.

      There are, of course, any number of people still alive who
      could answer any/all questions about all this.

      Did GM ( an outfit known to be on a ‘tight budget’ ) really own
      that many ( or even MORE? ) expensive radios… or were
      some of them just ‘on loan’ that day from their parent
      fire department’s locker room?

  53. Gary Olson says

    on January 14, 2014 at 11:35 am said:

    “With all due respect, you have it ass backwards. You do not base safety decisions on your experience. ” Mike, I’d just said in my comment just above that experience can give a misleading picture of what CAN happen. Let me quote: “Again, look at those gloves. If you can go gloveless for years in a row with just some callouses and small cut, and you don’t take the chance — which is another way of saying probability — of a really bad outcome into account, then based on experience you’d say gloves aren’t needed.” I am saying gloves ARE needed, despite the ability to have lots of experience suggesting they aren’t.

    You, Mike, have just expressed why probability DOES need to be taken into account when making decisions. You can do something with a small chance of a catastrophic outcome multiple times with nothing bad happening. Your own experience set therefore shows that the activity seems safe. But, the chance, or odds, or probability, of something bad happening, is still there, and sooner or later that bad event will happen. That is why you make a rule not to do these things. For instance, wear gloves as a rule, even if going gloveless most of the time will be ok.

    For GM, they seem to have a persistent pattern of actions that had a slight chance of a catastrophic outcome. Look at McDonough and Willis as regards deployment sites. But, they’d never lost a lookout before YHF — and haven’t lost one yet, now. They did lose the ATV of course. That’s probability at work. You have to take the chance of a negative outcome into account, which they don’t seem to have been doing in several respects.

    NV, I really don’t understand why everyone is having such a hard time with this concept. I get it, and I completely agree.

    For example – The anology was used earlier in aviation that either something is safe or it is not safe, if it is safe, you do it, if it is not safe you don’t do it.

    Well using that same analogy, I would never leave my house and drive around town in my car…because it is SAFE to do that. I can always be killed by getting t-boned backing out of my drive way. Now…if I don’t look carefully backing out of my driveway, well then my odds of getting killed go up. If it is late at night, my odds of getting killed go up even further. If it is even later at night and the bars have just closed, well then my odds of getting killed go up even more. If it is later at night, I don’t look backing out of my driveway, I drive to the area of town where most of the bars are located and it is snowing and the roads are icy and I drive fast without my lights on after smoking some pot and drive with sunglasses on, well then my odds of getting killed go up even more, if I do all of that and then drive to an area of town where minority gang members are present waving a confederate battle flag while yelling racial obscenities out my car window and then keep circling back and doing it all over again, well then my odds of getting killed go up even more. What is so hard to understand about this concept?

    Can’t we all just agree that if we do stupid things our chances of having a happy and successful life goes down with every stupid decision we make until we will eventually find the bottom and be dead from STUPID?

    • mike says

      Yes , wildland firefighting has inherent risk. If the goal was simply to never have any firefighter deaths we would not fight them. But along with that the goal is for “everyone to come home”. The only really “acceptable” risk is “act of God” types of events that we cannot control and are rare. In addition, it is understood that humans make mistakes and people will die – but those errors are not “acceptable” – we do all we can to eliminate them. The YHF was clearly human error and not an “act of God”.

      Doing things that have higher than an “act of God” level of risk IS stupid. The “rules” exist to minimize risk of firefighting activities, and failure to follow them is human error and not an act of God. If people start doing things that are “probably safe”, even “highly probably safe”, there are going to be a lot more of these threads on IM.

      This risk analysis applies in many fields, not just firefighting. In medicine (my field) we do things that are risky for the patient because the risk of not acting may be higher. That does not really apply here. The risk of not acting might be losing homes (assuming no civilians are at risk) but not acting means no firefighters die. Doing things that risk the lives of WFF to virtually any degree – beyond an “act of God” – cannot be justified.

  54. Bob Powers says

    Back to what we know and what we have learned.

    Granit Mountain in a safe area (in the black)
    The fire did not cause them to move or chase them out.
    1. Did some one ask them to move
    2. did they move to go to the ranch and then to town.
    A. to end shift and go home line assignment over could do no work.
    B. to go to Yarnell to help, every body else was sitting in a parking lot.
    3. Did they have other options off the hill.
    A. Back thru the burn in the burn to where they came up and down thru the new burn to where the vehicles had been parked and picked up there.
    B. Stay where they were for an hour and then walk out. A. above or
    C. walk down thru the black to the ranch.
    D. at any time they could have walked off the ridge on the back side and out to the highway.
    4. Why did Marsh not call and discuss the move with OPS Able?
    A. Able would have known there location
    B. could have told them to stay put.
    C. could have put eyes in the sky for them as a Look Out.
    Marsh should not have moved the crew without notifying OPS of what he was doing . This was a direct violation of fire line protocol and standard order #7
    From that point LCES went out the window.
    5. At this point the SAIT should have stated some blame for the non communication. Marsh could have called on Cell if the Radio was to busy.
    the SAIT never said any thing about communications at that point over a cell phone.
    6. Marsh had options for communications and did not use them.
    A. did Marsh talk to any one prior to the move on his cell phone.
    B. Did Marsh and Steed have Inter-crew radio communications.
    C. Did they talk to Willis or McDonough, and did they receive all the crew discussion before and during the move.
    D. They evidently had contact to Air Attack and were monitoring them.
    E. Could Marsh at any time have contacted any one else on the other Channels? That should have been checked in the investigation.
    I would say yes all the way to deployment. on several freq. The Helicopter EMT communicated from the site of deployment to the IC at fire headquarters.
    So the no communications was the crew on the move and not the Radio problems as stated by the SAIT.
    The weather was a known fact so the weather did not cause the fatality’s and was only a factor because GM did not take it serious.
    Ill stop here for any additions or corrections you may have…..

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      My two cents… that’s pretty damn good, Mr. Powers. Thank you.
      Might have more comments on this later but it’s a good list.

      I did have another quick question for you and basically all
      WFF people.

      The more I listen, over and over, to this ‘helmet-cam’ video
      there is one thing that just keeps leaping out at me with
      regards to the ‘communicate clearly and effectively’ part
      of the 10/18/LCES.

      Why doesn’t the Wildland Firefighting Industry actually use
      an established MAYDAY call like just about everybody else
      who uses radios already does?

      Every time I listen to the video… it’s excruciating to hear these
      people trying to figure out that Granite Mountain really WAS
      ‘in trouble’… and the TIME they wasted trying to ‘figure that out’,
      even though it really was pretty clear what Steed had said.

      Why didn’t Captain Steed break right in on Arizona 16 with…

      “MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front.”

      If he had… there would have been NO QUESTION that ( as
      is the case in other radio-heavy industries ) the moment
      they all heard that word MAYDAY… EVERYONE needed to
      STOP what they are doing and pay FULL attention to the transmission that immediately follows that.

      It wasn’t ( as the confused B33 guy thought ) some structure
      protection group asking for retardant, or something.

      It wasn’t ( as the confused OPS1 guy thought ) a case of
      “maybe we got somethin’ goin’ on”.

      It wasn’t just somebody clicking the wrong transmit channel.


      Yet all we hear for almost a full MINUTE is everybody on the
      radio trying to figure out “maybe we got somethin’ going on”.

      Maybe one of the the ‘changes’ to the way WFF does things
      coming out of this incident would be for WFF to finally institute
      and/or adopt their own established MAYDAY radio protocol(s)
      like just about everyone else with radios did a long time ago?

      I think it might help save some lives in the future.

      • Bob Powers says

        Mayday Mayday Common to me and we were taught to use it. I do not know why GM did not your asking for an open freq. I thought they still trained that.

      • Gary Olson says

        I was never taught to use that and I have never even heard anybody talk about it. Frankly, the thought that something like that is even needed, or missing in any of the hundreds if not thousand of hours of training both in a classroom and on the job I received never even occurred to me.

        I believe that if NOTHING else comes out of this discussion, that idea alone, if the NWCG will accept it and implement it immediately into all training and put out immediate bulletins mandating the use of that phrase in all emergencies, will make everything worth it.

        If the NWCG doesn’t doe what I just suggested, well then, they can go to hell since I have already told several of their members several times the Battlement Creek Staff Ride contains a great deal non-factual information and they have just ignored me, and therefore I am already very disgusted with them as an organization.


        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          Reply to Gary Olson on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

          I went back and timed the actual raw helmet-cam
          video ( as released by SAIT FOIA/FOIL requests )
          again just to be sure what the real ‘time lag’ was
          for everyone finally realizing this was a

          It’s even worse than I thought.

          From the moment Captain Steed sends his first
          MAYDAY call… it is over 2 minutes before either
          OPS1 ( Todd Abel ) or B33 actually even begins
          to SUSPECT this might be a real emergency.

          It is, in fact, almost 2 minutes into the emergency
          when B33 still thinks it is just structure protection
          guys transmitting on the wrong channel and
          at +1:52 B33 is still just telling them to “quit” and
          stop “hollerin’ on the radio.”

          It is then OVER 2 minutes and 20 seconds into
          the radio exchanges when Eric Marsh finally
          comes on the air and informs them it IS a

          It is only at the end of Eric’s final transmission
          when he says “Affirm” that everyone now
          understands what is really happening and also
          now have some faint idea where they really are.

          That final understanding comes a full 2 minutes
          and 43 seconds ( almost 3 minutes ) after Steed’s
          first MAYDAY call.

          If Steed had simply prefixed his very first call
          with “MAYDAY!… MAYDAY!… everyone would
          have been ( or SHOULD have been ) IMMEDIATELY
          paying attention right at that moment and the next 2
          minutes and 43 seconds could have simply been a
          much better effort to pinpoint EXACTLY where they
          were and decide what ( if anything ) could be done.

          I am not saying those 2 minutes and 43 seconds
          would have saved lives in Yarnell that day.

          I am saying that someday… a similar 2 minutes
          and 43 seconds just MIGHT ( save some lives ).


          The TIMES below are not atomic times.
          They are simply taken from the raw video/audio
          and are just relative to the very first moment
          that Captain Steed sends his first MAYDAY.

          Caveat: This is also just a quick SUMMARY of the
          conversations in this timeframe to illustrate
          the point being made above and it is NOT meant
          to be a full representation of everything that
          WAS said during this time period. See the
          actual helmet-cam video/audio for that.

          +0:00 – Captain Jesse Steed breaks in on
          Arizona 16, yelling loudly with the sounds of
          multiple chainsaws already running very
          close to him ( which is why he’s yelling )…
          “Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain
          Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front.

          NOTE: The fact that chainsaws were ALREADY
          running before we even hear Steed’s first
          radio call is very significant. It means a certain
          amount of TIME had already passed and they
          had ALREADY decided to deploy AND found
          the place to do that, and got the saws fired
          up and the men at work on preparation, etc.

          ALSO NOTE: Skipping all the additional attempts
          on GM’s part to contact B33 but suffice to say for
          the first full 2 minutes after Steed first tried to
          announce this EMERGENCY… the radio is full
          of nothing but additional attempts to just try
          and get either B33 or OPS1 to answer them
          and/or pay any attention to them.

          NOTE: It does appear that there are THREE voices
          in this final sequence now. Steed issued the first
          MAYDAY, then the next two “Bravo 33, how do
          you read me?” calls are from Robert Caldwell,
          then Steed comes back on the radio and tries one
          more time to get B33’s attention… and only then we
          hear Eric Marsh appear to ‘explain’ the situation.

          At NO TIME during these crucial two minutes does
          either Caldwell or Steed prefix any of their attempts
          to get anyone to pay attention with a “MAYDAY”
          prefix. They SHOULD have.

          +1:52 – Even almost a full 2 minutes since the
          start of the emergency sequence… B33 still thinks
          it is just structure protection guys transmitting on
          the wrong channel and B33 is still just annoyed
          and telling them to “quit” and stop “hollerin’ on the

          +2:02 – OPS1 Todd Abel only now begins to
          believe there MIGHT be an emergency and
          tells B33 to “get with Granite Mountain… they
          MIGHT be having some trouble”.

          +2:20 – Eric Marsh first appears on the radio,
          speaking calmly and still not really indicating
          how much trouble they are really in. ( No
          MAYDAY indication of his own ). Only as he
          slowly and calmly explains the situation do
          we now find out how serious this is.

          Only now ( A full 2 minutes and 40 seconds after
          the start of the emergency traffic ) does B33
          attempt to actually LOCATE them at all, but too
          much time has gone by for this to be fully

          +2:41 – B33: So you’re on the south side of the
          fire, then?

          +2:43 – Eric Marsh: Affirm!

          So only at this point… 2 minutes and 43 seconds
          after the emergency sequence was initiated by
          Steed, does everyone fully understand it IS an
          EMERGENCY and even have a faint idea of where
          they really area… but there is now no time left
          whatsoever to really even TRY and do anything
          about it.

          By the way…

          One of the ‘static from the deployment site’
          transmissions that the SAIR was simply
          dismissing as ‘unintelligible’ and not counting
          into the time when these men were still alive
          actually has a VOICE in it trying to say something.

          More about that later.

          • Sitta says

            Good work, WTKTT. That’s a tough read. I haven’t been focusing much on the final transmissions, because I’ve been thinking that they were already lost at that point (and had they been following SOP, their location would have been known).

            However, when you organize like you have, it becomes clear to me that this is a very important area where we can improve safety and response times. Even if it couldn’t have saved these men, perhaps it could save lives in the future.

          • Marti Reed says

            Thanks, WTKTT! Actually after looking more closely at Steed’s and Caldwell’s radios yesterday, I had pretty much concluded Caldwell’s radio wasn’t involved. Because it was located outside the deployment area and was sitting in a pile of stuff I now think was a well-burned pack. So if, as you now think, he was using the radio, he must have dumped the pack a ways away from him and deployed, without his radio.

    • Marti Reed says

      Happy Almost Anniversary of 70 years of high risk living!!!

      (…is probably all I can say at this point!)

      (…as I approach the 50th anniversary of the day my brother made the stupidest decision of his entire life, got himself killed, got somebody else’s leg broken, almost got a helicopter crashed, and almost got two other people killed or injured…)


    • Sitta says

      Bob, thanks for constructing this tree of choices made. I like that you go back to before they left the black (for me, that is the critical decision). I’m trying to figure out lessons learned for spring training, and framing the day in terms of alternate choices seems like a really good tool.

      This list is also a good reminder that technical issues with the radios were NOT relevant in that last half hour (rendering one of the SAITs few conclusions incidental).

      It hurts to read this and remember how close they all were to making their days off.

      I hope you have a wonderful birthday.

  55. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    Marti’s comment above about refocusing on the cell phones reminded me
    of a post I meant to write the other day.

    There really is no doubt that Eric Marsh, Darrell Willis, AND even
    Brendan McDonough all had their own cellphones that day.

    There is documented proof of all three.

    In Eric’s case… forget the fact that Todd Abel tells us this directly in his
    interview with SAIT investigator and chief Jim Karels. ( Abel says directly
    he was having PHONE conversations with Eric out on the ridge that day )…

    …there is also other documented proof that Eric had his own cell phone
    and that the infamous “We have got to get an anchor on this” discussion
    between Marsh and Willis circa 6:00 AM that morning was, in fact,
    ‘cellphone’ to ‘cellphone’.

    See details below.

    The only REAL question is… WHERE is Eric Marsh’s cellphone?

    What happened to it?

    Was it simply ‘missed’ at the deployment site ( or was in his pack ) and
    was then just returned to Amanda Marsh in the same surreptitious way
    PFD tried to return Christopher MacKenzie’s camera to his father…
    bypassing both YCSO and the SAIT?


    The Arizona News article below details the phone call between Darrell Willis
    and Eric Marsh that took place circa 6:00 AM on Sunday morning.
    This is the conversation when Willis says he told Marsh ( before he
    even showed up in Yarnell )…

    “We have got to get an anchor on this thing.”

    This Arizona News article came out just 6 days after the incident and is
    based on a direct interview with Darrell Willis.

    The article actually states that this was NOT Willis calling Marsh.

    The article states ( from this interview with Willis ) that is was
    the opposite. That Marsh called Willis circa 6:00 AM.

    According to the Kyle Dickman ’19: The True Story of the Yarnell Fire’
    article based on direct interviews with Brendan McDonough, at 6:00 AM
    Eric Marsh was already driving south on Highway 89 towards Yarnell.
    Actually, the article says that the entire GM Crew and Marsh left
    Prescott at 5:40 or 5:45 AM and headed south towards Prescott
    with Marsh leading the way (alone) in the GM Supervisor Truck.

    So whether Marsh called Willis or Willis called Marsh at 6:00 AM…
    that conversation must have been ‘cellphone’ to ‘cellphone’ with Willis
    down in Yarnell already and Marsh now driving the GM Supervisor truck
    south from Prescott on Highway 89.

    From the Arizona News article…

    A brewing storm: How fire turned tragic for 19 men
    Source: Arizona News
    Originally published: Jul 6, 2013 – 10:39 am

    Overnight the blaze grew to 200 acres, and by Sunday morning officials were
    transitioning to a larger command team to oversee firefighting efforts and
    calling in more personnel.

    Around 6 a.m., Darrell Willis, chief of the Prescott Fire Department’s Wildland
    Fire Division, was loading his truck with containers of eggs, sausage, potatoes
    and fruit for the crews when his phone rang. It was Eric Marsh, superintendent
    of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who were based out of Willis’ department.

    “Hey, chief,” Marsh said. “We’re coming down to the fire.”

    At 43, the North Carolina native was the oldest member of the Hotshot team
    and its founder. Within six years of its beginning as a fuels mitigation unit in
    2002, the Granite Mountain group had joined the elite Hotshot community…
    the first such crew attached to a municipal department.

    Marsh and Willis had worked together for years, and were close friends as
    well as colleagues.

    Willis gave Marsh the rundown: Active fire. Lots of homes potentially at risk.

    “It’s one of those days,” he warned.

    Then Willis ended the conversation the way he does anytime he’s speaking
    to a firefighter.

    “Be safe,” he (Willis) told Marsh.


    From the article…

    A brewing storm: How fire turned tragic for 19 men
    Source: Arizona News
    Originally published: Jul 6, 2013 – 10:39 am

    ( Immediately during and right after the deployment… )

    Willis, the Prescott wildland fire chief, was in his pickup outside Yarnell, listening
    to the Hotshots’ tactical frequency, when he heard a garbled message from
    Marsh that he couldn’t quite make out. Then his cellphone rang.
    “Did you hear that?” a supervisor asked him. All Willis could think was,
    “Not those guys.” His guys.Then he began to pray.
    As time wore on, Willis got back on the phone.
    He called his wife first, and then the head of the Prescott Fire Department.
    He asked them to start praying, too.

    NOTE: There is also the evidence from above that the conversation
    between Willis and Marsh that took place at 6:00 AM that morning
    was ‘cellphone’ to ‘cellphone’.


    In his interview with Kyle Dickman ( actual quotes below ) Brendan
    McDonough said that the first thing he did after hearing the news
    of the 19 confirmed fatalities was “Call his Mother”.

    NOTE: The only cellphone that was in one of the Crew Carriers that
    has ever even been tentatively associated with any firefighter
    is the one in the cup holder near the front seat of whichever
    Crew Carrier Brendan McDonough had taken quiet refuge in
    after the deployment. It supposedly belonged to Clayton Whitted.

    From the Kyle Dickman article.
    Outside Magazine
    Tuesday, September 17, 2013
    19: The True Story of the Yarnell Fire
    ( Based on private interviews with Brendan McDonough and others ).

    ( Right after the fatalities were confirmed )…

    Donut was sitting in the passenger seat of Granite Mountain’s
    parked buggy, just staring ahead.

    He’d called his mother and told her that he was OK, but that’s
    all he could say. The details escaped him.

    The phones of his dead crewmates started ringing around 9 P.M.
    One cell phone rattled in the cup holder by the front seat, where
    Clayton had sat. Then it was the phones of the hotshots who’d sat
    in the back. The calls were from girlfriends, friends, and family
    members. Maybe they caught wind of the tragedy on Facebook.
    Maybe they’d heard it second- or thirdhand from somebody else.
    It didn’t matter. The word was out. The Granite Mountain hotshots
    had deployed. The people were calling without any real hope that
    their message would ever be returned. They were calling to say

    The calls and texts kept coming, endless rings and vibrations and
    senseless jingles. Donut had to leave the buggy.

    • Marti Reed says

      You do notice the problem with that story, I assume.

      But for anybody else who doesn’t, Clayton Whitted’s cellphone is the one PFD identified by its cover as Clayton Whitted’s and turned over to YCSO after they found it “burned into a pack.”

    • Marti Reed says

      I’m glad I’m sitting here eating some really good lemon pound cake and drinking some really good coffee at this moment. Otherwise I think I would just break down in tears.

      Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

      • Bob Powers says

        Cheer up I am tomorrow is my Birthday a new mile stone in my life I’ve made it 70 years in two different High risk jobs. 33 years a fire fighter and 17 years a deputy sheriff plus I raced stock cars for 7 years on days off. It’s the decisions we make that keep us safe.

          • Marti Reed says

            I’m getting old, too. That’s why I got confused and thought you were in Santa Fe and I could just jump into my Subaru and drive up to see you. Are you in Flagstaff?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Marti Reed post on January 14, 2014 at 10:01 am.

      >> Marti wrote…
      >> You do notice the problem with that story, I assume.

      Oh yes. That’s why I printed that.
      Can we take what former Hotshot Kyle Dickman says
      as the total truth?
      This guy is BS’ing us almost as much as the SAIT did.
      But the details of what happened that morning/day with
      GM are based ( according to Dickman ) on extensive,
      exclusive interviews with Brendan McDonough.

      So the ‘story’ there with the Dickman article would be who
      is BS’ing who?

      Was McDonough ‘making stuff up’ for Dickman?,
      or was is it the former Hotshot Dickman trying to BS his readers?,
      or is it all actually true?

      It’s just like the SAIR.
      SOME of it is actually true. SOME of it is actually not.

      What’s the old joke?

      “I know that half of what I am being told is a lie.
      The only problem is… knowing WHICH half.”

      I do, in fact, trust the TIMES on when Dickman says the crew
      actually left Prescott. I think that’s verifiable from other sources
      and that still puts Marsh in his vehicle and on his cellphone
      when he had that 6:00 AM ‘conversation’ with Willis.

      >> Marti wrote…
      >> Oh, the tangled webs we weave.

      Not to worry.

      Quoting another good English writer…

      “Fouls deeds will rise… thou all the earth o’erwhelm them…
      to men’s eyes”.
      Hamlet (1.2.256)

      Translation: When people are tryinig to bulls**t you…
      Every little detail counts.

      • Marti Reed says

        Thank you for making me laugh! I needed that!!

        I’m just getting really of trying to unravel all these knots. I guess the best we can do is point to things.

        I really am pretty much ready to graduate to just sitting back and watching the chips fall where they may.

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          The ‘chips’ will be falling for a LOOONG time
          on this one.

          This isn’t just some bus accident.

          It’s historic.

          This is, at one and the same tine, the greatest
          single-day loss of life AND the greatest blunder
          in the history of Wildland Firefighting.

          It’s going to be studied… and restudied… over
          and over again for YEARS to come.

          There are a LOT of children ( and future
          grandchildren ) who are going to want to know
          EXACTLY what happened to their fathers
          and grandfathers that day… and WHY it
          might have happened… and WHY they had
          to grow up without them around.

          I believe the truth will all come out someday.

          I believe even this small discussion and attempt
          to find (more) facts is at least trying to make that
          day come sooner rather than later.

          It’s just such a shame that the initial investigation(s)
          were such a botch job. It’s always hard to recover
          after that ( but not impossible ).


          • Marti Reed says

            To be perfectly honest. I’m secretly working for Amanda Marsh. She doesn’t know that though. Who didn’t have any kids with Eric, but they considered the crew to be their kids. I’m trying to hand her a silver key.

  56. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to calvin post on January 12, 2014 at 9:36 pm said:

    >> calvin said…
    >> WTKTT…. Have you heard the comment in the last of the helmet
    >> cam video after radio contact is lost that says something about
    >> coming out a road by the storage center. Is that Willis?
    >> WTKTT responded…
    >> Yes… I have heard it… and at the moment I don’t
    >> think that was Willis. The ‘storage center’ they
    >> are referring to is, of course, that U-Store-It
    >> facility there on Highway 89 where we see the
    >> Globe Type II Crew filming those VLAT drops.
    >> The reason I don’t think it’s Willis is because
    >> all evidence for the 1639 timeframe points to
    >> Willis still being ‘up north’ either at or near the
    >> Model Creek School ICP when the actual
    >> deployment happened.
    >> On January 13, 2014 at 5:55 pm, calvin also said…
    >> WTKTT… It sure sounds like Willis to me.

    Calvin… you are RIGHT.

    I listened to it again… and compared that voice with Willis speaking at the
    July 23 deployment site media event.

    I am with you now. I would definitely say that is Willis’ voice.

    It doesn’t matter ( as I tried to say before ) that Willis was probably up at the
    ICP in Model Creek at that moment. That makes no difference as to whether
    it’s him on the radio there or not. Willis was about to come ‘down to Yarnell’

    There is actually another (small) clue that would prove it’s Willis.

    The original transcript released with the helmet-cam video appears to be
    accurate for that moment.

    The radio conversation suddenly captured in that video is as follows….

    Person: Two… we are in Yarnell
    Willis: Copy, I’ll be coming out to the road, it’s by a mini storage
    right at the north end of town.
    Person: Great, that’s right where we’re staged.

    When that first ‘person’ says ‘Two…’ I think that is just shorthand for SPGS2
    ( which would have still been Willis at that point in time ).

    What I also think what Willis means there when he says he will be ‘coming out
    to the road’ is that he is ‘coming down’ from Peeples Valley and down to the
    ‘Shrine road’ area which is, in fact, sort of ‘by that mini-storage’. It’s just a little
    south of there.

    Also… Willis suddenly sounds pretty worried. All business. That’s because only
    moments before he heard Eric announce the deployment over the radio and
    Willis is distracted/worried now at this moment we hear him speaking.

    He might have even thought that’s the general area where Marsh just said they
    were deploying ( The Shrine road area ) and that’s why we hear him saying he’s
    ‘coming down’ to that exact ‘road’.

    I also just found something that updates what I said up above about this moment
    and how/when Willis actually heard of the deployment.

    I said ( above )…

    Willis says in his YIN notes that the first he heard of a ‘deployment’ was when
    Abel called him on the phone circa 4:40 – 4:45 and told him about it.

    That doesn’t match what he has said in other inverviews at all.

    In even just his interview he says he had actively ‘clicked back onto
    their frequency’ circa 4:00 PM… and was listening to it the whole time they were
    moving and right up to Marsh’s “We are deploying’ transmission”.

    So maybe Abel did call Willis at 4:45 to ‘tell him about it’… but according to other
    interviews… that’s a full 3-4 minutes after Willis had already heard it himself over
    the radio.

    ** UPDATE…

    As it turns out… ANOTHER interview Willis gave to the press just six days after
    the incident seems to confirm that BOTH of these things are true.

    Willis WAS listening to GM’s ‘private frequency’ right up until the actual time of
    deployment AND he did receive that phone call from Abel asking if he’d heard
    about the deployment.

    ** The following article came out just 6 days after the incident and is obviously
    ** based on a direct interview with Darrell Willis.

    A brewing storm: How fire turned tragic for 19 men
    Source: Arizona News
    Originally published: Jul 6, 2013 – 10:39 am

    ** NOTE: This version of events from Willis does NOT match his recounting
    ** in the deployment site press conference that would take place a little
    ** over 2 weeks later on July 23. In that press conference… Willis gives
    ** the impression that he did not personally hear any of the final
    ** transmissions or the actual deployment announcement.
    ** NOTE ALSO: The 4:47 PM time quoted below in this article is possibly
    ** right for burnover moment but not for Eric’s transmission(s) but since
    ** this Willis interview was only 6 days after the incident… there was still
    ** a LOT of confusion on everyone’s part about ‘times’ at that early stage.

    At 4:47 p.m., Eric Marsh did radio to fire commanders, and his message was
    utterly terrifying. The 19 remaining Hotshots were deploying their emergency fire
    shelters- lightweight cocoons made of reflective material intended as a
    firefighter’s last resort.

    Willis, the Prescott wildland fire chief, was in his pickup outside Yarnell,
    listening to the Hotshots’ tactical frequency, when he heard a garbled
    message from Marsh that he couldn’t quite make out. Then his cellphone rang.
    “Did you hear that?” a supervisor asked him. All Willis could think was,
    “Not those guys.” His guys.
    Then he began to pray.
    Over and over again, the radio crackled with a constant, heartbreaking summons:
    “Are you there Granite Mountain? Are you there Granite Mountain?”
    Maybe, thought Willis, they’re just out of radio contact. Maybe, he hoped, his
    friends would walk out of that smoke at any minute.
    Helicopters circled the area in an attempt to douse the flames.
    But the smoke was so thick crews could only guess at where to drop their loads.
    As time wore on, Willis got back on the phone. He called his wife first, and then
    the head of the Prescott Fire Department.
    He asked them to start praying, too.

  57. Marti Reed says

    To WTKTT in particular because I’m guessing you have awesome timelines and stuff, but to anybody else, also:
    I’m really shifting my focus to the question of cellphones.
    I know there’s been conversation about Eric’s use of a cellphone. But I don’t have it in my notes. Can anybody tell me if/when Eric communicated/was communicated with via cellphone? Thank you in advance.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      The first anyone had ever heard that Eric Marsh was out there
      on that ridge sending/receiving PHONE CALLS that day was when
      the SAIT Yarnell Investigation Notes ( YIN ) were finally made public.

      It surfaced in the notes for the SAIT interview with OPS1 Todd Abel.

      Abel says that after Marsh had those documented arguments
      with Rance Marquez ( DIVS Z )… Marsh called Abel ON THE
      PHONE to talk about what happened.

      Abel also says he believed that was the ‘LAST PHONE CALL’
      he got from Marsh that day… which automatically implies that
      there were a number of others BEFORE that one.

      Marsh was off by himself almost the whole day.
      The only time Marsh was known to have been anywhere near
      Steed and the crew all day that day is when both Marsh and
      Steed were meeting with BR Supt ( Frisby ) and BR Capt
      ( Brown ) up there near the anchor point for about 30 minutes.

      Page 1 of the YIN.
      Interview with Todd Abel by J Karels on 8/14/2013

      Sent Rance in, to contact Div a and decide div break. Marsh’s phone call, they talked about resources and division break between z and alpha (Marsh said somewhat heated discussion, but they worked out the break, which abel understood to be: down off hill near the grader spot was where the break was going to be. rest of line to the east is zulu. (Believes this was last cell call, other convos were over radio).

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Reply to Marti Reed post on January 14, 2014 at 12:50 am

      >> Marti said…
      >> I’m really shifting my focus to the question of cellphones.

      See a longer post I just made down below that confirms
      Eric Marsh, Darrell Willis, and even Brendan McDonough
      ALL had their OWN cellphones with them that day.

      There really is no doubt about it.

      Only question in Eric Marsh’s case is…

      WHERE IS IT?

      Did it remain ‘undiscovered’ just like Christopher MacKenzie’s
      camera ( or was hidden in his pack )… and then PFD found
      it but did NOT report it?… just like they did with Chris’ camera?

      Did they ‘surreptitiously’ just get it back to Amanda Marsh like
      they tried to get Chris’ camera back to his father… and succeed
      in bypassing both the YCSO police and the SAIT investigators?

  58. WantsToKnowTheTruth says


    I have been re-listening to the audio from the helmet-cam video that captures
    the final radio transmissions that day and have discovered that I believe you
    can clearly hear chainsaws ( more than one ) running in the background even
    during the very first MAYDAY from Captain Jesse Steed when he says…

    “Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots, We are in front of
    the flaming front.”

    If the saws really were ALREADY running… then that would significant.

    It would actually change the entire timeline as to when they actually first
    realized they were in danger and when we finally hear that first MAYDAY.

    If the saws were already running before we even hear that first MAYDAY
    it means a whole bunch of things had ALREADY happened and a fair
    amount of time had gone by before that first MAYDAY actually goes out.


    1) They actually realized they were in trouble.
    2) The spread-out single line of men had to ‘pull up’ into a group.
    3) A terrible decision had to be made.
    4) A place to deploy had to be found.
    5) Everyone had to assemble into that ‘found’ place.
    6) Everyone had to be instructed what to do then.
    7) The sawyers had to pull the chain travel sleeves, pull the ropes, and fire up.
    8) Steed had to ‘select’ Channel 16 on purpose. ( He messes up and actually
    picks Channel 10 instead… but perfectly understandable given circumstances ).
    9) Steed sends the first MAYDAY call out on Air-To-Ground ( Channel 10 ).

    This could actually put the moment they realized they were in deep trouble all
    the way back to mere SECONDS after the moment two minutes before the
    MAYDAY when we also heard Marsh casually transmit “That’s where we want
    retardant” at 1637.

    If those are NOT chainsaws running there in the background ( and its
    definitely not just wind noise )… then why would Captain Steed have
    been YELLING like that? He doesn’t sound terrified in the least… he
    just sounds like he is YELLING because he wants to be sure he
    can be HEARD over all that noise that is close to him there at that moment.

    In other words… he sounds like he’s YELLING just as much to hear what
    he is saying himself as for anyone who might be listening.

    I don’t believe it can all be explained away as just ‘over modulation’.
    Steed is not actually ‘over-modulating’ himself… at all.

    He is actually YELLING locally ( almost at the top of his lungs ).

    Some kind of really, really loud machine-type noise is RIGHT THERE next
    to him as he’s trying to transmit that first MAYDAY over the radio.


    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup: You also have to COMPARE Jesse’s first MAYDAY
      call to the final one from Marsh from ( obviously ) the same
      location where they are deploying. There is now a little bit of
      wind noise locally in Eric’s mike… but all LOUD ‘machine’ noises
      are totally absent now. This would make sense. They had
      already finished all the saw work they had time to do and it was
      time to ( as Eric himself says at that moment ) try to do some
      ‘burning out around ourselves’ and start getting into shelters.

      So if it was just WIND that Steed had to ‘shout at the top of his
      lungs’ to be sure he could be heard over in HIS transmission…
      then why wouldn’t Marsh have had to do the same YELLING
      to be sure he could be heard?

      Marsh is not YELLING at all. He’s out of breath from having to
      have RUN some distance very quickly to catch up with all of
      them… but other than that his VOLUME level is quite normal
      ( because there are no saws running anymore ).

      Best example of what I am saying is at the moment Marsh
      says the phrase “in the brush”, and the ‘pause’ that immediately
      follows it. It is actually very, very QUIET out there at that site at
      that particular moment.

      No saws. No wind noises. Just Eric’s (calm) voice.

  59. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Thanks again, Marti. Amazing work.

    Has this obvious question already been asked/answered, though?

    How ‘usual’ is it for EVERY frickin’ member of a Hotshot crew to actually
    be carrying their own ( expensive ) Bendix/King radio?

    Why would that even be remotely necessary?

    Average price for a Bendix/King GPH/CMD ( which is what they appear to be )
    portable WITH recharging station seems to be around $1300 bucks ( and
    that’s just the analog version. Digitial is more ).

    Example: 49er Communications
    Price: $1,325.00

    Times nineteen equals $25,175 bucks worth of radios out there that day.

    For a department that kept saying it didn’t have the money to provide any
    benefits for the seasonals… and that also was forcing all the crew to buy
    their own $400 boots… that seems like a lot of ‘extra’ ( and unnecessary? )
    hardware in the station rack(s).


    • Marti Reed says

      Good question. Not only that but, again I ask, “What is an Investigation of radios?” $25K, at least, worth of radios, photographed, which is all I’ve seen? What’s the point??

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Marti… see above. If it could be determined that Robert
        Caldwell’s BK radio was last set to transmit on Channel
        10… then that’s one more step to proving that we DO
        hear his voice in those final radio transmissions.

        SIDENOTE: I still can’t believe you would have to shell out
        $1300 bucks for a radio and it still would NOT have some
        kind of transmit/receive log that was timestamping
        things… or better yet… even RECORDING some things
        like… say… the last 90 minutes of conversation.

        Heck… you can walk into Wal-Mart these days and buy
        a digital voice recorder for $20 bucks that is capable
        of recording conversation ALL DAY LONG at the lower
        quality audio settings.

        The people who make BK radios just can’t put this
        same $20 chipset and EPROM into their $1300 radio?

        • Sitta says

          Most BK radios have the size, weight, and special features of a brick. We use them because they are (almost) indestructible. And, I suppose, they’re kind of grandfathered in.

          They actually have a fair bit of programmable features, but most people don’t know how to access them, which is probably just as well. Sometimes lack of complexity is a REALLY good thing.

    • Marti Reed says

      And yes I agree with the question you are asking. Is eleven radios (PLUS the one Brendan McDonough obviously had) typical for a hotshot crew? In asking this I’m actually not being judgmental, just curious.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Apologies ( It’s late here as well ). I thought you, yourself,
        had actually found evidence of up to 19 radios there at
        the site… since the highest incremental number you
        reported was ’19’. I guess that’s just the numbers that
        were being used by YCSO. They started their numbering
        at NINE ( not ONE ).

        So the math above is obviously wrong.

        Total for 12 of those radios would run about $15,900.

        All questions posed still stand, however.

        That’s a lot of radios… and a lot of money ( and we still
        don’t know how many others might have been in charging
        racks back in Prescott or even back in the Crew Carriers. )

        How USUAL is that?

        • Marti Reed says

          Yes, I should have maybe more appropriately have written at the beginning that the numbers started in sequence after the shelters. I guess I was assuming that everybody can count.

  60. Marti Reed says

    My Radio List

    During the removal of the bodies, radios that were located inside shelters were removed from the shelters and left on the Deployment Site, so they could be “Investigated.” I’m going to include the name of a photo from the YCSO collection (which I obtained by asking for it from Elizabeth and then downloading the photos from her online collection obtained via her FOIA Request) for each of them. This photo will be from a medium distance to show both some location and some detail.

    Radio 9. IMG_0039. Located in the general vicinity of either Shelter 3/Body 30-Sean Misner or Body 17-Kevin Woyjeck. Bendex. Short antenna. Somewhat burned.

    Radio 10. IMG_0039. This one has really stumped me. It’s Chris’s radio, as it has a name tag on the side that is really easily readable. It’s in the best condition of any radio on the site. It’s also practically in the middle of the site, at least a foot or so from where I think Chris’s head was (sans a decent site map) and also about a foot from his camera/canteen. Bendex. Long antenna. It’s what WTKTT originally thought, upon looking at the SAIT photo, was Jesse Steed’s radio. (There are quite a few long-antenna radios among the collection, so Jesse wasn’t the only one with one). The only way it could be both in excellent condition and located where it was, was if, as was documented, it was removed from his shelter and placed pretty far away from his head, in my opinion. Or at least away. Or maybe I’m still not quite oriented, sans a decent site map.

    Radio 11. IMG_0043. Near shelter 4/Body 18-John Percin. (There are three other bodies on the Body Map near him so……., the next closest being Dustin Deford). Bendex. Long antenna that’s twisted into a U-shape. Partially burned. Camera/canteen is almost pointing toward it. Cellphone 405 (which I have determined is Andrew Ashcroft’s by location and by the fact that he was using one that day) is really close to it. So this shows how confusing this can be.

    Radio 12. IMG_0045. Near Body 2-Jesse Steed. Definitely his radio. Label on it saying “Prescott Fire Department.” Long antenna. Bendex. Good condition, even though it’s in a pile of stuff that’s somewhat burned/melted. I think it was pulled from his shelter and set there.

    Radio 13. IMG_0059. On the NW perimeter of the site. Closest body on the Body Map is Body 4-Robert Caldwell. But the radio is quite far away from the body and quite burned. Bendex. Short antenna, I think. I’m right now thinking it may be in a pack.

    Radio 14. IMG_0052. Near Shelter 7/Body 1-Eric Marsh. Bendex. Long antenna. Definitely burned. This is the radio being looked at in the SAIT photo. But its location in the YCSO photos is relatively far away from where they are squatting near the agave in the SAIT photo, shortly before the YCSO photos were taken, in my opinion.

    Radio 15. IMG_0062. Located to the “right” of the camera/canteen. Quite near Shelter 8/Body 16-William Warneke. I’m pretty sure it’s a Bendex, but it’s seriously burned. Long antenna-broken, with the end wedged between a burned rock and the canteen frame around the camera.

    Radio 16. IMG_0062. Located to the “left” of the camera/canteen. Under a big black blob of something burned and melted. Burned, I think. You can’t see much of it. This is the other radio WTKTT spotted in the SAIT photo and was wondering if it was a different kind of radio. It’s a Bendex. Short antenna. On one side is a melted plastic bottle and near it on the other is the saw-blade cover from Dustin Deford’s chainsaw.

    Radio 17. IMG_0070. Located outside site to the east, but somewhat close to Shelter 3/Body 20-Sean Misner and Shelter 4/Body 18-John Percin. In a collection with two white metal bottles, the aluminum frame of a canteen, and a whole lot of AA batteries. Totally burned. Long antenna. Looks shorter than a Bendex. But if it’s not a Bendex, it is the only one of the bunch that isn’t. Probably a pack, I’m thinking now.

    Radio 18. IMG_0072. Located outside of the site, to the east between the site and one of the chainsaws. Close to the white handle of a pulasky (sp?). I’m thinking this is a burned pack. (I haven’t been specifically looking for packs, but right now it makes sense). Radio is deep in crud/soil/whatever. Wedged between two aluminum canteen frames. Can’t tell if it’s a Bendex, it’s really burned, but it looks similar to the bottoms of the other Bendexes. There’s something that looks like a long antenna, but the photos don’t show if it’s attached to the radio. Also, there’s something that looks like it might be a case the size of a radio, as well as something that looks like that speaker thing they use. (I’ve been thinking of looking for more of these speakers, but haven’t gotten there yet.)

    Radio 19. IMG_0007. Located the furthest away from the site, I think, and to the northish-east. I think it’s a pack. Really burned. I think it’s a Bendex. Can’t tell the length of the antenna because of the photo framing. Grouped with the frame of an aluminum canteen, a brown thing that I can’t tell whether it’s a notebook or a wallet, some fuel bottles, and something I early on keyworded with “cellphone?” Right now I’m thinking, “Maybe this might be Clayton Witted’s pack?” If so, I can’t believe they photographed the radio and didn’t see the cellphone. It’s not really burned into anything. It’s just lying there.

    So there you have it. My awesome list of the radios. And I put “Investigated” in quotes for a reason.

    • Marti Reed says

      The reason I put Investigation in quotes is because I have a question. What is considered to be an investigation of radios? All I’ve so far seen is a bunch of photographs of radios. Is that considered to be an investigation of radios?

      • Marti Reed says

        It’s getting late for me here. That’s why there’s a couple of typos in that. But I think the meaning is clear in spite of them.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Marti… there was quite a discussion along these lines in
        some of the earlier ‘chapters’ of this ongoing public
        dicussion. The focus on was whether or not it would be
        possible to tell exactly which radios had a final ‘transmit’
        setting of ‘Arizona 10’.

        Remember… Jesse Steed broke onto the Air To Ground
        channel that day by saying “Breaking in on Arizona 16″…
        but even the SAIR says this was a mistake and that
        the transmissions were actually appearing on the
        official Air To Ground channel ‘Arizona 10’.

        I believe it was decided that the only way you could really
        tell what transmit channel was the last one selected for
        any particular BK is if they were using them in one of
        the ‘modes’ that REQUIRED them to ‘hand-select’
        the current transmit channel by using the rotary knob
        on the top of the radio.

        There is no documentation anywhere, that I have seen,
        that ANYONE even ever tried to document even this
        basic information about the recovered radios.

        So to answer your question… the SAIT people specifically
        asked YCSO to carefully collect all the radios for
        ‘later inspection’… but there is nothing to indicate they
        ever tried to ‘inspect’ them at all other than just observing
        how burned they might ( or definitely might not, as we
        now know ) have been.

        The jury is still actually out as to whether that is Robert
        Caldwell’s voice being heard on any of those final
        captured radio transmissions. His relatives say it IS him.

        If Caldwell’s radio could be determined to have been
        last set to transmit on Channel 10… then that would
        be pretty good proof that it IS him we can hear in
        those final transmissions.

          • Marti Reed says

            OK, I went back and looked, after I woke up enough to re-read what you wrote and understand it. Unfortunately. Robert’s radio is really burned and especially at the top you can’t see much of anything. And the photo angle is not adequate.

            Steed’s radio is in great condition, but there are only two photos in which you see the top of the radio, but they’re not close enough and not at quite the right angle to see the kind of information you’re describing. It would be a snap if you had it in your hands though. Actually, you could probably get that info off Robert’s radio, too, in a physical inspection.

            What were these SAIT people doing?????

        • Marti Reed says

          What do you want to see a REAL (and realistic) investigation of the radios (knowing what you know, since I don’t really know anything about them) tell us?

          • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

            Marti… see above. I am probably dreaming but
            is there, in fact, ANY way to tell what the
            rotary channel select knob on the tops of any
            of these radios is actually set to?

            I still haven’t seen these photos you are
            working with. How ‘close-up’ are they?

            • Marti Reed says

              What you are talking about about rotary dials on radios is way beyond my expertise. I think maybe you should tell Elizabeth you would like the link to her folder of the YCSO photos of the SAiT investigation. Until JD publishes a link to his folder of the actual high rez SAIT photos. Which actually probably will tell you even more, if he ever publishes that.

          • Sitta says

            I’m assuming that GM used Bendix King DPH radios (they almost ubiquitous in wildland fire).

            A REAL investigation of radios would note the positions of the channel knob and the switches for Priority, Hi/Lo, and Scan. It would also examine the programming on the radios (if they were still functioning, they could be attached to something like DPH-Edit on a computer, via a cable, and their program settings downloaded).

            This is important because there were reports of difficulties communicating due to mismatched frequencies or tone guards. This would also help us figure out who was transmitting on which channel. Even if the plastic knobs had melted, the little metal piece underneath would remain in place, showing which channel the radio was tuned to.

            The three switches: PRI (Priority) is usually programmed such that while a radio is scanning multiple channels, any traffic on priority will break through above the rest. It can also be used such that, no matter which channel the knob is set to, the user can call out on their programmed priority channel.

            HI/LO generally switches the power of transmissions between 5 watts and 1 watt. It can be reprogrammed to do other things.

            SCAN tells the radio to listen to all channels programmed to scan, and lets the user listen to whatever traffic is picked up from multiple channels.

            We don’t know if GM were using a pre-programmed set of channels and settings, or something they cloned their radios to when they arrived on the incident.

        • Marti Reed says

          What I really want to know is, from all you wildland firefighters who are here among us, within the protocols of a SAiR, what is considered an investigation of radios in a situation where 19 firefighters have died leaving behind 11 radios on a deployment site plus one on a lookout who survived (not to mention what is the protocol regarding making a map of that kind of a site)?

          I just really don’t know.

          • Sitta says

            See above about what I think should be included in an investigation of radios.

            Realize that the vast majority of firefighters don’t know what’s involved in an investigation like this, because these things are extremely rare. The lack of response to this question and the PFD withholding evidence question has more to do with us not knowing, rather than us not caring.

            • Marti Reed says

              Thank you! I really appreciate your comments on this. It sounds like you’re a bit more familiar with this stuff. I’ve been downloading SAITs I think might be helpful for me to scan. But I’m kinda running out of time for working on this.

            • Marti Reed says

              I really think the best we can do here at this point, is to point other eyes and minds that are being actually paid to do this and have subpoena power, where they most likely need to go.

              • Sitta says

                Yes. Like you, I’ve had a fair bit of employment doing maps (mine ranged from surveying to digitizing). I was very tempted to try making maps of the incident. But frustration won over, because what ought to take one hour would take ten (no exaggeration), and I *still* wouldn’t feel secure that I’d done it right.

  61. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Marti Reed post on January 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    >> Marti said…
    >> I’m working off the top of my head, and memories, right now. One thing
    >> I’ve been aware of being confused about is who, actually, was on the site
    >> that night. I’m remembering (possibly in error) Darryl Willis saying he was
    >> on the site that night.

    You are right… Willis has said on a number of occasions that he was right
    there, nearby the fallen men that night ( ALL night ), even though he had
    arrived at the Yarnell fire at 11:45 PM Saturday evening and had been up all
    night the previous night as well.

    From Willis’ press conference at the deployment site held July 23, 2013…

    The other aspect was we had some folks back in Yarnell on ATVs and when this
    area cooled off enough they came up on ATVs… uh… three of our brothers from
    the Prescott National Forest… and actually confirmed again that we had lost 19
    firefighters. And… uhm… at that point… the few of us that were here that were
    with the Prescott Fire Department determined that we weren’t gonna leave these
    guys here so when it cooled off and stuff… we stayed back a little bit and spent t
    the night up here with them… in this vicinity. ( He gestures to an area on the
    ground not too far from where the bodies were ).

    So Willis was definitely one of the ones who was there by the men all night.
    He doesn’t name the ‘other members’ of the PFD he is referring to but we
    know at least the following three additional PFD employees were there in
    Yarnell, working the fire, at the time of deployment ( excluding Brendan
    McDonough, of course )…

    Tony Sciacca, Conrad Jackson and his partner Mark Matthews.

    By morning, when the YCSO invetigators were done, there were ( according
    to Willis himself ) 11 members of PFD there by then to assist with the
    removal of the bodies. We still don’t know who ALL of them were.
    The 12th member of that team was Wade Parker’s dad Danny Parker, a
    Chino Valley Fire Captain, who had asked Willis specifically if he could
    participate. Willis is the one who told him he could so obviously Willis was
    ‘in charge’ of this operation that morning.

    >> Marti also wrote…
    >> I’m also remembering (possibly in error) YCSO saying the site was cleared of
    >> all people except a YCSO crew guarding the site. I’ve had moments of
    >> thinking, “I need to go back and check all that out. I’m confused.”

    I’m sure there was YCSO nearby but it’s unclear if they were ‘spending the
    night’ right there by the bodies like Willis says he and some other PFD did
    or whether the YCSO was further removed from there like back at the ranch.

    What YCSO was VERY concerned about before daylight was keeping the
    news helicopters away once daylight came. There are notes in the incident
    log about Roy Hall himself trying to make sure that would happen.

    Nowhere in Willis’ description of what happened that night does he say
    anything about when they placed the ‘tarps’ on the bodies… or who
    actually allowed them to do that before police investigators even arrived.

    Interesting… I went back and checked the police report myself and it says
    that the tarps were placed over the bodies by “the firefighters who found them”,
    but I had forgotten that it ALSO says the YCSO detectives first photo-documented
    the site WITHOUT removing the tarps… then they removed all the tarps… and
    then they photo-documented AGAIN.

    So it appears that regardless of who had been ‘walking the site’ the night
    before to place all the tarps… the detectives had the good sense to
    photo-document what was there EXACTLY they way THEY were now
    discovering it… before they did anything else.

    Have you seen any photos that match this activity description in the YCSO
    package, or are there simply no photos yet available prior to the bodies being
    REMOVED from the site?

    From page 6 of YCSO Detective J. McDormett’s initial investigation report…

    The incident location where the firefighters perished was located past a ranch
    and up a hill. A make shift road had been bull dozed to the scene overnight.
    At the foot of this hill were numerous members of the Prescott Fire Department
    (PFD). I was told that PFD were waiting for us to recover the remains of the
    fallen men so they could bring the deceased down the hill for transport to the
    medical examiner’s office (ME). Aside from Sgt. Williams, ET Boyle and I, the
    following YCSO employees assisted the recovery process: Sheriff Scott Mascher,
    Capt. Jeff Newnum, Lt. Boelts, ET Katie Waldock, Det. Todd Swaim and forest
    patrol deputies Larry Hooten and Tommy Tieman. On arrival the fallen men were
    under tarps that had been placed over them by the fire fighters that had discovered
    the bodies. The ET’s took 360 degree photos before removing the tarps. The tarps
    were removed, additional photographs were taken, and FARO, which is a 3D
    photography system, was employed to further document the scene.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Followup: Last line of police report is important. They did NOT
      employ the FARO 3D system until AFTER they had already
      photo-documented the site with the TARPS still in place… and
      only after removing the TARPS did they do the FARO scan.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      One more followup… another article appeared after the incident
      which was talking all about how Arizona DPS Paramedic-Officer
      Eric Tarr thought he heard ‘voices’ coming from the site as he
      approached it and he was ‘calling out’ to them as he approached.

      We know now that it was only the ( still fully functioning ) radios
      that he heard when approaching the site.

      However… that article also quotes a YCSO officer as saying
      that later on, a Prescott Fire Official (Marty Cole, I think )
      wanted to turn all the radios OFF… but he prevented him from
      doing that saying…

      “I’ve wanted to turn them off since we got here…
      But we have to leave it for the investigators.”

      So YCSO was definitely ‘watching the site’ and actually
      preventing PFD people from doing whatever they wanted
      to do there… but we don’t know the timeframe.

      If they weren’t allowed to ‘touch the site’ and the officer who
      stopped them from turning off the radios knew that ‘nothing
      should be touched’… then when did they actually walk all
      over the site placing TARPS… and who let them do that?

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      One more time… I finally remembered where it was reported
      that a PFD person wanted to ‘touch the site’ and turn off all
      the radios but a YCOS Sheriff prevented him.

      I got the quote from the Sheriff right and it was, in fact, PFD
      employee Marty Cole.

      Here is where that ‘story’ was actually first told…

      SIDENOTE: Notice in this article that PFD employee Marty Cole
      is himself quoted saying that Marsh was a “hardhead”…

      Outside magazine
      19: The True Story of the Yarnell Hill Fire
      Published Tuesday, September 17, 2013
      By Kyle Dickman

      MARTY COLE, the former superintendent of Granite Mountain and
      one of the two safety officers on the fire, leaned against the hood
      of his truck for a long time before he made up his mind that he
      wasn’t going to the site. Then he changed his mind. He needed to
      see for himself what had happened.

      That first trip, Marty made it only to the gate of the road that led to
      the Helms place before he stopped, put it in reverse, and drove
      the six miles back to the incident command post. As he did, he
      replayed memories from over the years he’d worked with Eric
      Marsh. The hardheadedness, their arguments over trivial
      things like the color of crew T-shirts…

      Four times he made the trip to and from the command post
      before arriving at the ranch house a third of a mile from the
      site of the tragedy.

      Marty walked across the blackened flats toward the basin.

      At the site, a sheriff stood guard.

      The hotshots’ pants and packs were incinerated. Their saws,
      Pulaskis, and Rhinos were now deformed lumps of metal.
      Fourteen of their shelters had been vaporized or ripped off by
      the wind, and many of the men lay in the fetal position, as if they
      were sleeping in the blackened ash. The remaining shelters were
      barely recognizable. The aluminum had flaked off; the glue that
      held them together had melted when the temperatures hit 1,200
      degrees. Five hotshots lay beneath these remnants.

      Marty stood in shock and listened. Again and again he heard a
      hissing that ended in a crack. What is that? he thought. Then it hit
      him. The hotshots’ radios. Somehow they were still on and
      functioning. He took a deep breath and went to turn them off, but
      the sheriff stopped him.

      “You can’t,” the officer told Marty, his hand on the old superintendent’s chest.

      For the next three months, state and federal investigators would
      have to examine every detail of the crew’s history up to their final
      moments. Something needed to be learned from this tragedy.

      “I’ve wanted to turn them off since we got here.
      But we have to leave it for the investigators.”

        • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

          The same thing you, yourself, have been so
          diligently trying to figure out.

          WHY are things ‘where they are’ in the photos?

          WHO had access to this site before the only
          photos we ( you ) can see were taken… and is
          there a chance they ‘moved’ things either
          purposely or accidentally.

          I really don’t think the PFD guys who walked all
          over the site placing TARPS long before the
          police even got there were actually picking things
          up and putting them back down again… or even
          the unthinkable like going through their pockets
          looking for and/or removing personal effects
          like notebooks or unit logs or whatever…

          …but then again.

          Was there really a YCSO Sheriff there by
          the site all night… making SURE no one
          ‘disturbed’ things? Might be good to know.

          • Marti Reed says

            I don’t think anybody was moving things around either, at that time. Mostly I’m guessing everybody was in some form of shock. I’m sort of conjuring, though, that if Willis was on the site all night, as I think he says he was (though I may be mistaken), given all kinds of everything, he may have been carefully scoping it.

            • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

              Marti… see above. That’s the second
              time you have needlessly accused
              yourself of being mistaken. You
              are NOT. Willis, himself, SAYS that
              he ‘spent the night right there’ near
              the bodies. He said it right to the
              camera in his July 23 public press
              conference held at the deployment
              site. He even gestured right to the
              spot where he ( and some others )
              “spent the night” there.

              • Marti Reed says

                I tend to try to be pretty conservative when I’m speculating from memory and it’s late at night and I’m too tired to go looking for things. Thank you!

            • Elizabeth says

              Willis says in his interview (transcribed and provided by ADOSH to me) that he spent the night out at the Helms Ranch while a dozer was trying to get a road in to the bodies. I believe Willis, for whatever it is worth. He and law enforcement wanted to get the bodies out privately, before the media helicopters came, so it is entirely possible that law enforcement’s investigation and photos were less… detailed than usual. PLUS the investigation team (I think it was them) said repeatedly that the wind was whipping things around (e.g. the shelters and debris). I personally am not concerned about the chain of evidence and such at this point. I am MORE concerned with what the SAIT did not sufficiently consider, ask for, or probe deeply regarding. But that is just my personal view.

              • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

                Thanks, Elizabeth.
                Everything you have reported
                just above matches other
                statements in the YCSO
                police report itself such
                as them being woken up and
                called to the site ASAP
                instead of the time they were
                told the night before… and
                the ‘wind’ at the site. Roy
                Hall himself discusses
                ‘keeping the media choppers
                away in the morning’ in his
                own Incident notes,
                etc., etc.

                I hear ya about the SAIT.
                What a BOTCH job…
                but I still think ‘chain of
                possession’ on some
                critical evidence here
                is VERY important.

                E.g: Eric Marsh’s cellphone.
                WHO found it?
                WAS it ever found?
                If so… WHO had it?
                WHO has it NOW?

                • Marti Reed says

                  And I agree with that too. I don’t think they could have found cellphones that night in the dark. But I think they could have a spotted a camera.

              • Marti Reed says

                Thank you, and I agree. I have found out as much as I need about the chain of evidence. The fact that PFD was quite willing and able to withhold evidence if they thought it was in their best interests to do so.

              • Marti Reed says

                And, I spent of time yesterday picking thru the dispatch logs, among the documents JD was posting a little bit ahead of me downloading them. Monday morning was a zoo in the air. Nobody local was prepared to deal with it.

              • Marti Reed says

                Actually, nobody local was prepared to deal with any of this. In it’s entire hundred and something year history, Prescott Fire Department had never had a single fatality.

  62. Gary Olson says

    Bob Powers
    on January 13, 2014 at 8:23 am said:

    You hit it been a long time since I have been there.

    I don’t know if it really matters…but Marana is the name of the town about 5 miles from the Pinal Air Park, which is where the joint USFS and CIA air field is technically located. During the 60’s and early 70’s, it was the headquarters for Air America which in now called Evergreen Air and that is still there. There is also an Apache Helicopter training base located very nearby and a lot of special forces do HALO jump training there. A lot of very big cargo planes fly in and out of there in the middle of the night with air crews who wear strange looking uniforms who are in the chow hall the next morning. NARTC is also co-located there and there is a large Fire Cache located there although FLETC moved to Artesia, New Mexico in the late 90’s, but the whole operation is collectively referred to as “Marana.” All and all, a very interesting place. At least all of that is right the last time I knew, which is now receding further and further into history.

    • Bob Powers says

      A long time ago I was there in the 80’s twice once for air attack training and once for Type 2 team training we had quite a few old hot shots there and we dried up the Bar one night they weren’t ready for us I guess.

      • Gary Olson says

        That’s a righteous claim to fame since that bar is used to seeing some pretty heavy drinkers…every night, as there is nothing else to do for a long, long, ways away and lots of reasons not to leave the facility.

        • Bob Powers says

          You got that right They ran out of whisky or said they did to close the party down we just switched to beer or something else.

  63. Gary Olson says

    jeff i
    on January 13, 2014 at 8:25 am said:

    So its clear that WTKTT and his followers are back on the Willis witch hunt track again, very sad.

    And Gary, you are saying that agency politics would have influenced your fireline decisions? That doesn’t sound like the “push the envelope” kind of guy you profess to be.

    I don’t understand your question, so I will take at stab at what I think you could mean and then you can fill in the blanks. Agency politics influenced everything I did in my life from 1974 until 2006. So where to start.

    During the entire time I worked for the USFS, 1974-1988, I rode for the brand…period. I bled green when I was cut. Every decision I made on the fireline was dictated by agency politics. Fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first. Which is what I did, period.

    I started on the Prescott National Forest (1974) as a very low level initial attack fire fighter (they didn’t come any lower) but I was raised on a Coconino National Forest Hotshot Crew under the leadership of Forest Fire Staff Officer Bill Buck.

    If you know anything about USFS Region 3, (I don’t have any idea where you work or what you do), so…they called it the Mighty Coconino for a very good reason, and maybe they still do. Bill Buck ran a hyper fire program on steroids, I was, and still am, a Bill Buck worshipper.

    I was hired on the Happy Jack Hotshots at age 20, and I was the CREW BOSS by age 23, I believed at the time and I still do, that I was the youngest hotshot crew boss in the country. If you know of anyone who has ever been a hotshot screw boss younger, please tell me.

    EVERYTHING I did was what they wanted me to do, and what they wanted me to do was fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first, with a very strong emphasis on fighting fire aggressively and a little softer emphasis on providing for safety (there is a nuance there, it was very slight, but it was there).

    BUT…there was never any question in my mind that my role model, mentor and father-like-figure, a great wildland firefighter and District Fire Management Officer by the name of Richard Allred, EXPECTED me to bring the entire crew home to his District in one piece…and I never wanted to disappoint Richard.

    I also received training and mentorship under 2 other great wildland firefighters and Fire Management Officers, Hub Harris and Orlando Romero, I never wanted to disappoint either one of them either…and I don’t think I did.

    The USFS fire organization during my years on the line and even later during my 4 years in an office on the Santa Fe National Forest under the great leadership of 2 other great wildland firefighters (are you picking up on a theme here, ALL of the leaders in the USFS FIRE program during that period were great men to my knowledge) and top managers, Les Buchanan (Santa Fe Forest AFMO) and Ray Page (Santa Fe Forest FMO).

    It was an organization of men (yes, they were all men back then) of complete honesty and integrity with a very strong work ethic and group loyalty and cohesion.

    It was a world full of honor and purpose of the highest values and ideals of public service in pursuit of our primary objective…fight fire aggressively but provide for safety first. Take care of each other, fight fire for the man on your left and the man on your right (although I did receive a Regional Civil Rights Award for hiring the FIRST woman to work on a Coconino Hotshot Crew…so there)

    If you interpreted my statement that I pushed the envelope that I was some sort of rebel…than you got it all wrong. I never had a reason or thought to go against my agency’s values, policies or politics…from where I was, there was nothing to rebel against or challenge, those values were pure.

    The world was black and white, no grey. There was right and wrong. Good and bad. There was a clearly defined and unified strategy “See wildfire…put it out.” Life was simple…and good.

    And none of that prepared me to work for a ******* agency like the BLM…so that is another and very different story and is not relevant to this comment because I was no longer in FIRE at that point in my life and everything changed.

    So…exactly what is your question?

    • jeff i says

      So I think what you are saying is agency politics influenced your fireline decisions, but not when it came to safety. But apparently you don’t think Marsh and Steed could draw that same line.

      • Gary Olson says

        I really, really, really, hate to put it to you this way (and to any of those who loved the Granite Mountain Hotshots who may be following this thread) but if you can’t see it for yourself…I WILL SPELL IT OUT FOR YOU since you seem to be rather obtuse!

        No…what I am saying is agency politics influenced all of my decisions INCLUDING safety, and I am saying that when I was on the Coconino there was a culture to “Fight fire AGRESSIVELY, but provide for safety first!” There is a nuance there, get it? It was a hyper fire program on steroids!

        That philosophy stayed with me after I was hired to start the Santa Fe Hotshots. That is the reason I was hired to create the Santa Fe Hotshots. There was tremendous pressure on Orlando Romero to hire a “local” guy to run that crew, but Orlando wanted a crew with a Coconino like reputation of “Fighting fire AGRESSIVELY but providing for safety first!” So Orlando bucked the system and hired me instead.

        And I gave him exactly what he wanted, although I also understood that Orlando EXPECTED me to bring the crew home to his District in one piece and I never wanted to disappoint him. Get it?

        You asked, “But apparently you don’t think Marsh and Steed could draw that same line.” No…I don’t. Eric Marsh, Jesse Steed and almost the entire Granite Mountain Hotshots were burned alive, they are DEAD. While I am sitting here fat, dumb and relatively happy after 32 years of service where I was paid to risk my life almost every day I went to work, one or the other.

        FYI – The winners get to write the history books! Good, bad, or ugly, my race is over…I won. Get it?

        Why else do I think that? The Blue Ridge Hotshots from the Coconino National Forest where they probably still “Fight fire AGRESSIVELY, but provide for safety first!”
        Because traditions die very slowly in the United States Forest Service if at all, who were subject to the same fire conditions and requests to go to Yarnell, are now getting ready for the next fire season, while we are still talking about the horrific, inexplicable deaths of almost an entire hotshot crew. Something that has NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE in the history of wildland firefighting.

        Oh, and by the way…in case you missed it…the Blue Ridge Hotshot Crew Boss did everything he could to try and save the Granite Mountain Hotshots from themselves…but they fooled him by lying to him in response to a direct question regarding their safety. Sometimes the truth really, really, really, hurts…doesn’t it? Guess what? Most people didn’t like me during my career, but I never cared what most people thought…and I still don’t. Nobody ever paid me to make friends.

        Go back and read all of my previous posts describing all of the other fires that resulted in hotshot deaths, the Loop, the Battlement Creek, and the South Canyon fires…if you don’t understand how completely different…as in I can logically explain exactly (and I have done so several times) why those hotshots died on those fires.

        Those deaths were tragic, but completely understandable. Nothing about the deaths of the Granite Mountain Hotshots is understandable or explainable, unless you know something no one else knows.

        Oh, and as a quick reminder, none of those other hotshot death tallies even came close to the Yarnell Hill Fire alone. In fact, all of the other 3 fires combined is only slightly higher than the hotshot deaths on the Yarnell Hill Fire under the leadership and direction of Eric Marsh and Jesse Steed in a program organized and managed by Darrell Willis. Now what don’t you get?

        The Yarnell Hill Fire and the deaths of the Granite Mountain hotshots is an anomaly, an aberration, a CONUNDRUM! Now do you get it? It is very, very, very, hard to argue with results…don’t you think?

        • Gary Olson says

          Go ahead and call me names, I am used to it and probably deserve it. I’m sure I could have found a better way to express myself if I would have thought about it long enough.

  64. mike says

    Couple of comments:

    First of all, probability is a terrible way to look at safety decisions in wildland firefighting. We certainly do not do that in aviation. Things are either safe or you do not do them. You do not do things that are 70% safe, 90% safe or even 99% safe. If you did, there would be a lot of dead WFFs. You do not choose to do A over B because A is safer than B. Rather you choose A because A is safe. If neither A or B are safe, you do neither. Firefighting has inherent risk that is accepted, but that accepted risk is basically the unforeseeable “act of God”. Things that have quantifiable, predictable risk should be avoided.

    I was the one who made the comment about psychoanalyzing Marsh. The way you are all speculating about the relationship between Marsh and Willis, we are going to need Sigmund Freud to write the definitive book about the YHF and not someone like John MacLean.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      I don’t think PFD, or the SAIT ever really thought that there was
      going to be the amount of video and photographic evidence
      emerging that lets us all SEE ( for ourselves ) EXACTLY what
      those men were seeing up there just 4 minutes before they
      decided to leave the only truly ‘safe’ place to be ( where they
      had also been TOLD to stay by an OPS working the fire ).

      PFD and the SAIT already knew some photos had gone
      public like the ‘texted lunch spot’ thing and whatnot… but
      none of those photos compare to the high-res photos
      and video and audio and the “you are there” experience that
      poor Christopher MacKenzie has ( thankfully ) provided us.

      I think… when Christopher’s father Mike MacKenzie saw what
      his son had left us all and realized himself ( as a firefighter )
      how important that was… it threw PFD and the SAIT for a loop.

      I think they had already been working on a narrative that had
      a lot more “we will never know” stuff in it before they realized
      they WERE going to have to acknowledge the existence of
      Christopher’s high-quality photos and videos.

      There are a lot of things we still don’t know.
      Maybe never will…

      …but thanks to Christopher and his father… one of those things
      is NOT “maybe they just couldn’t see what the fire was doing”.

      They most certainly COULD… and every firefighter who sees
      those videos has asked the same question…

      “How could they have left where they were at the TIME they did,
      and gone the ROUTE they did, when they could SEE what the fire
      was doing ( and was GOING to do ) right down there in front of

      • Marti Reed says

        I agree. PFD and SAIT are assuming, for the most part, a different world than the one we currently live in, although I think Brad Mayhew, who was in charge of the site investigation on July 3 is pretty internet savvy, imho.

        One additional thing, however, that is constantly reverberating in my brain. It’s a two-part thing. On the one hand, the message from Air Attack that the fire would reach Yarnell in one to two hours.

        Which I think they believed, and caused them to think they could make it to the ranch in time.

        On the other hand, the really serious concern (documented in some article I’ve read) from the meteorologist associated with the Southwest Area Command Center in Albuquerque (the center that had repeatedly denied the Arizona Forest Service the use of the Granite Mountain Hot Shots) that he was contemplating trying to contact the crew DIRECTLY to tell them that the winds WERE SHIFTING to the southwest from the south. You said “when they could SEE what the fire
        was doing ( and was GOING to do )” He was really really really concerned that they didn’t know that the winds were shifting from the south, i.e. parallel to where they were planning to go, to the southwest i.e turning and thus wrapping around the ridge to blow up into the canyon/bowl, and was in conflict about whether or not to violate protocol to try to communicate with them directly about that. He’s located in Albuquerque, and I have seriously thought about going over to his office and talking with him, especially since I’m pretty sure he probably knows who my dad was.

        I really think the crew dropped down into that canyon thinking the fire was running parallel to them. What they didn’t know, and this meteorologist was in great conflict about how to tell them, was that the fire was shifting in a direction that would wrap it around the ridge below them and turn it into a chimney that they were about to be entrapped in.

    • NV says


      Under your approach, if GM had pulled off their bushwhack, they would have been able to say it was “totally safe” because nothing happened. Probability is something taken into account in any activity where safety is a big concern. Again, look at those gloves. If you can go gloveless for years in a row with just some callouses and small cut, and you don’t take the chance — which is another way of saying probability — of a really bad outcome into account, then based on experience you’d say gloves aren’t needed. It isn’t gambling or being irresponsible to take probabilities into account. I think several commenters here are reacting emotionally to the concept, but it actually is an important part of safe systems and practices.

      • mike says

        NV –

        With all due respect, you have it ass backwards. You do not base safety decisions on your experience. That is a set-up for “bad decisions with good outcomes”. You base them on your training, your teaching, the manuals and the RULES!

        You wear gloves because it is safe. Not wearing them won’t be a problem most of the time, but do it enough and it will get you. Playing the probability game is a prelude to injury.

        Likewise, Eric Marsh went into that canyon banking on the fact that the wind would not shift. But with the thunderstorm present, there was certainly a not tiny chance of that in fact happening. Most of the time he would have gotten away with it. But taking a calculated risk killed him and 18 others. The SAFE course – staying in the black.

        Do something with a small risk of a negative outcome enough times and you will experience that negative outcome eventually. Hence, you should not do those sorts of things at all. Calculated risk and playing the odds is not a way to stay safe!

        • NV says

          “With all due respect, you have it ass backwards. You do not base safety decisions on your experience. ” Mike, I’d just said in my comment just above that experience can give a misleading picture of what CAN happen. Let me quote: “Again, look at those gloves. If you can go gloveless for years in a row with just some callouses and small cut, and you don’t take the chance — which is another way of saying probability — of a really bad outcome into account, then based on experience you’d say gloves aren’t needed.” I am saying gloves ARE needed, despite the ability to have lots of experience suggesting they aren’t.

          You, Mike, have just expressed why probability DOES need to be taken into account when making decisions. You can do something with a small chance of a catastrophic outcome multiple times with nothing bad happening. Your own experience set therefore shows that the activity seems safe. But, the chance, or odds, or probability, of something bad happening, is still there, and sooner or later that bad event will happen. That is why you make a rule not to do these things. For instance, wear gloves as a rule, even if going gloveless most of the time will be ok.

          For GM, they seem to have a persistent pattern of actions that had a slight chance of a catastrophic outcome. Look at McDonough and Willis as regards deployment sites. But, they’d never lost a lookout before YHF — and haven’t lost one yet, now. They did lose the ATV of course. That’s probability at work. You have to take the chance of a negative outcome into account, which they don’t seem to have been doing in several respects.

          • Robert the Second says


            I’m jumping back in here on this probability debacle. As Mike said above “With all due respect, you have it ass backwards.” I have to totally agree with his assessment, and I echo that sentiment because if I use my own, it would be much more crass.

            You stated many times now about wearing gloves to avoid callouses and blisters. You don’t get it. We WANT callouses and blisters turn into callouses. The reason we wear gloves is to PREVENT 2ND AND THIRD DEGREE THERMAL RADIANT HEAT BURNS. Wearing gloves has absolutely NOTHING to do with getting callouses.

            I think Fullsail was right when he said you have never fought fire before.

            There’s more …. do you read your horoscope everyday to decide whether or not to do something? Do you consult a Ouija Board or go for palm readings on a regular basis? How about the Tarot Card route? Those are allbased on probability aren’t they?

            I asked you earlier to indicate where, in any of ‘The WFF Rules’ there was any mention of ‘probabilities’ and still haven’t seen any provided yet. Let me help you, since you’ve probably been busy looking for those boulder SZ incidents. Fire Order number “Post lookouts when there is POSSIBLE danger” (EMPHASIS ADDED). Do you consider the word ‘possible’ to be equivalent to, or at least synonomous to ‘probable?’ Probable is the root word of probability, so that’s why I mentioned it.

            We post lookouts ALL the time, not just when there is ‘possible’ danger.

            You said “They did lose the ATV of course. That’s probability at work.” Are you serious here? NO, it’s NOT “probability at work.” It was STUPIDITY. They lost their ATV for being stupid, doing dumb things (actions). They were told (cautioned) several tmes by line overhead AND other HS Superintendents NOT to continue with their unsafe and unsuccessful actions. The result was a BAD OUTCOME. The burned up ATV had NOTHING to do with probability.

      • Sitta says

        It seems to me that the two camps are defining “probability” differently. The (primarily)WFF version seems synonymous with random chance (or taking chances), whereas the other version refers to the total possible outcomes, and taking into account events that haven’t happened yet. We all agree that WFFs put themselves in danger by disregarding all possible outcomes.

        You’re all arguing the SAME THING with regards to fireline safety. Follow the safety rules, because they prepare us for ALL outcomes, not just the most likely ones, or the ones we’ve personally experienced.

        Where do you think the safety rules come from, if not from people who consider probability? They look at worst case scenarios, and decide whether probability = 0, or whether it’s high enough (even if incredibly small) that lives/health/livelihood can be saved by modifying behavior across the board.

        As Mike said, “You do not base safety decisions on your experience.” Whether we are safe because we are well trained and always follow the rules, or because we recognize that those rules were based on a scrutiny of possible outcomes, doesn’t matter so much as the our treating safety seriously. We’re both getting to the same appropriate behavior, whether by left-brained math, or right-brained intuition and culture.

  65. Marti Reed says

    I just came across this USA Today interview with a former Payson Hotshot crew member that I think just about powerfully nails it on a number of points that keep getting raised here. (As an aside, about media coverage, this is the fourth USA Today post I’ve watched/read re Yarnell that really gets it right, imho. And I’ve never trusted USA Today. So that means I’m doubly impressed):

    “Former Firefighter Tim Wendel talks with USA TODAY’s Hadley Malcolm about his experience as a member of an elite Hotshot firefighting crew”

  66. WantsToKnowTheTruth says

    Reply to Marti Reed post on January 12, 2014 at 8:19 am

    >> Marti said…
    >> Actually the YCSO photos of the SAIT investigation aren’t high resolution,
    >> unfortunately. They’re only 2048 pixels by 1365 pixels. And we only have one
    >> SAIT photo of the SAIT investigation, the one from JD’s article.
    >> Other than that, we DON’T HAVE their photos.


    I still haven’t seen any of the YCSO photos but I guess I had just been assuming
    they were high-res.

    The only photo I have still ever seen showing items at the site is still that one
    SAIT photo published by Mr. Dougherty.

    Might be a little late after all the work you’ve done but the Fernandez photos that
    Mr. Dougherty has published also contain some super high-res photos of the
    deployment site and the boulder fields just due north of it.

    Dean Fernandez was Air Tactical Group Supervisor ( ATGS ) all the way through
    July 10, 2013. Lots of aerial photos but some very interesting ground level
    deployment site photos as well.

    They were taken on July 10, after everything was gone, but they might still help
    ‘orient’ some of those YCSO photos.

    This is probably the best one for that…

    This was taken from almost the same spot as the SAIT photo that Mr. Dougherty
    published… but a little farther back west and the lens/focus settings aren’t
    creating as much distortion as that other photo. It is ultra-high-res and as sharp
    as it can be but even the landscape in the distance looks more like it should.

    Fernandez was, apparently, allowed to visit the deployment site by himself on
    July 10 and allowed to take these photos. There’s no one else in them. The
    deployment site had had its final comb-through by now but you can still see
    remnants of fire shelters on the ground in the center of the photo.

    He actually ‘stepped back’ a bit to make sure he captured the deployment site
    itself, the flagpole, and the north side of the mouth of the box canyon all in the
    same photo.

    He also appears to be one of the only ones photographing the deployment
    site that realized the possible significance of some of the ‘unburned
    vegetation’ off in the nearby boulder piles and one of the only ones who
    seems to have made an effort to photo-document some of that.

    Fernadez’s photos appear to be shot with either an iPad or Samsung
    SCH-R530C. His iPad photos are all GEO-stamped but the Samsung photos
    are not.

    This high-res picture of the deployment site was shot with the
    Samsung July 10, 2013 at 2:47:41 PM.

    ALSO NOTE: On the very left side of the photo, about 3/4 of the way up
    from the bottom, ( right where the scorch line on the boulder pile stops )
    there is actually yet another full TREE there in that boulder pile that
    appears to be essentially ‘untouched’ by the fire.

    • Marti Reed says

      Thank you A LOT for this link. I had downloaded his aerials and thought, “wow, these are the best aerials I’ve seen so far of the site,” and they helped me confirm my general orientation. So I’ll look at these with great interest. When I downloaded the aerials, JD hadn’t posted these yet.

      Here’s the deal however. I haven’t had the time to go into the site on Google Earth and do a “ground survey” in all the directions, and then sync the YCSO photos to that, and, by doing so, get an exact alignment of the photos to them, and get a more exact alignment of all the pieces to all the pieces relative to that. And you know what? I don’t have time to do that, now.

      And you know what else? There are people on the payroll of the YCSO who were out there with all that fancy expensive equipment to make fancy digital images in order to do that stuff, and thus determine if that camera/canteen there were possibly originally inside that shelter that Chris partially successfully deployed.

      And you know what else? SAIT took I don’t know how many high rez pictures and had access to all the digital imagery YCSO created the day before. So I start thinking, why is it my unpaid job to create the map that I think it was their job to do?

      And you know what else? I think the legal team has people watching this conversation fairly carefully, since we seem to be the only people anywhere on the internet that I can find seriously digging deeply enough to point them to the black holes and possibly smoking guns that they may find very useful in their investigations.

      And you know what else? I’m almost at the point of deciding I can’t afford to do much more of the jobs of people who are paid way more than me to do this work, unless it’s something I’m just personally curious about, because I’m a really curious person.

      And quite frankly, to be personally honest, I’m actually not all that interested in whether or not the camera/canteen were originally inside Chris’ shelter, which I don’t think they were, because they were quite a distance from Chris and his shelter, in the best I’ve been able to determine sans a decent site map.

      What I’m really interested in at this point is whether or not all the cellphones are accounted for, which is why I made the spectacular claim that I made. I think that’s way more important at this point than anything else related to the Deployment Site. I really really want somebody to try to prove me wrong on that. For me, everything else regarding this site is collateral damage.

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        Reply to Marti Reed post on January 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        And you know what else?… I just checked the payroll
        files for this PUBLIC endeavor and you are RIGHT… you
        aren’t getting paid enough. I think you are owed some
        day-off overtime for what you have ALREADY done.


        >> marti also wrote…
        >> And you know what else? I think the legal team has
        >> people watching this conversation fairly carefully,
        >> since we seem to be the only people anywhere on
        >> the internet that I can find seriously digging deeply
        >> enough to point them to the black holes and possibly
        >> smoking guns that they may find very useful in their
        >> investigations.

        Oh… make no mistake… you can be SURE of that.

        The legal teams on BOTH sides are probably watching
        this very carefully ( leaps and all )… and well they should.

        If you read between the lines in this discussion… I think
        we are telling the plaintiff’s team(s) EXACTLY who to call
        as witnesses to find out what else they know… as well
        as EXACTLY where to possibly find more evidence that
        still hasn’t “seen the light of day”…

        …and that fact is not lost on the defense team, either.

        If they ‘read between the lines’ here as well then they
        will be preparing themselves to try and counter the
        exact questions those ‘witnesses’ are most probably
        going to be asked.

        All we have to look at is what is PUBLIC information…
        but I think we are telling a whole bunch of people with
        a lot more powers than that EXACTLY where to look for
        more answers.

        At least… I certainly HOPE we are.

        • Marti Reed says

          So that means I should be careful from here on out where I think the smoking guns are? To be honest, my heart is seriously with Eric’s wife. And actually, I think I’ve said enough about what I think is critical here. Part of me is quite seriously thinking about just kicking back and watching what plays itself out. I know what I think is the most important thing here, and I’ve said it.

        • Marti Reed says

          And that is that the Prescott Fire Department has proven itself, factually, to be willing and able to withhold evidence.

      • Sitta says

        You know what, Marti? I’ve been feeling SAME frustrations. I don’t think I could have verbalized them as well, though.

        And you know what else? Even though we are both very curious people, I think we’re even more stuck because we can’t stop caring. I wish to hell I knew why some people didn’t.

        • Marti Reed says

          Thank you. Yes, I’m here because I care. And I kinda know how some of this feels. I’ve commented before about my brother’s death. He almost got a number of others maimed or killed, he almost got a helicopter crashed. He was an Eagle Scout in charge of a Patrol. He was under the supervision of a Scoutmaster who wasn’t paying attention. My dad was actually up there above Tent Rocks when it happened, also. The 50th anniversary of that is coming up before the end of this month.

          I’m thinking that’s a big reason why I’m still here, digging and posting comments. My family was essentially totally dysfunctional for years after that. My mom and I have only in the past six months begun talking to each other about it. I basically, in my 13-year-old’s wisdom, told myself and the world that it wasn’t that important because my brother and I hated each other. In order to maintain that fabrication, I had to forget all of my childhood memories for the next twelve years, until somebody supervising me discovered I had something hidden away in a box.

          I don’t think we’re at the bottom of this at all. I absolutely DON’T KNOW what decision Eric Marsh made. NOBODY does, even though everybody seems to be assuming they do. I only know the consequences of it. The most important evidence that could possibly lead us or the families or anybody else closer to knowing that, is, imho, being withheld by someone who has proven himself willing and able to withhold important information, even if he has to bend his stories into pretzals in order to do that. Gee, I wonder why that would happen???

          I’m glad you’re here. Really I am.

          I’ve been trying to make myself get to know one of these hotshots–whose body on a body map and stuff in a photograph I’ve been looking at endlessly–every day. That way I can better begin to keep them straight when I mention them in a comment and get their names wrong. I haven’t made my way through the list yet. Maybe I will by Roger’s Anniversary. It’s really really really hard.

  67. Bob Powers says

    Marti– one other question I forgot to add.
    Did The EMT’s check all the bodies or move any thing.
    They were at the scene before any one else and could have moved things to check each for a pulse. Just a thought They occasionally mess up a crime scene where bodies or survivors are found. I am sure they would have checked all the shelters and bodies normal routine.

    • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

      Mr. Powers… I agree. I’m sure they did what they needed to do.
      There are also documented accounts of the initial investigation
      which reveal that even before the YCSO investigators arrived
      on the scene circa 5:00 AM… SOMEONE had also put ‘tarps’
      over all the bodies. That means people ( PFD / Willis / Conrad? )
      had been allowed to be walking all over the site putting these
      tarps on them before the police ever go there.

      That also means that the first thing YCSO had to do when
      they got there was REMOVE those tarps.

      There are no published reports so far of what ELSE they might
      have been doing other than just covering the bodies with tarps
      but I suppose it’s possible they just accidentally moved or
      rearranged some things in the course of doing that.

      • Marti Reed says

        I’m working off the top of my head, and memories, right now. One thing I’ve been aware of being confused about is who, actually, was on the site that night. I’m remembering (possibly in error) Darryl Willis saying he was on the site that night. I’m also remembering (possibly in error) YCSO saying the site was cleared of all people except a YCSO crew guarding the site. I’ve had moments of thinking, “I need to go back and check all that out. I’m confused.”

  68. Marti Reed says

    I’m going to repost to here the response I gave to a question by WTKTT about whether or not I think SAIT ever saw the “hidden camera” and/or its sd card. I want everybody to be able to read my response to that. I wrote:

    “I’m, after letting this whole thing sink in for awhile, including the relative significance (or lack thereof) of it legally, inclined to think SAIT never saw it. I think that’s the irony at the end of the story. And Mike may know how ironic his end of the story is. PFD seriously underestimated him. But who knows?

    I think what’s most significant in my mind at this point is not anything having to do with the camera, other than that I’m pretty 50/50 on whether PFD “did anything” with the sd card, all things considered. It’s more along the lines of “If they went to such great lengths to keep the camera from Evidence, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind they would do that even more with cellphones.” And, since this was not a checkmark crime scene, so the rules of engagement were not enforceable, that solidifies my speculations around this. I think there are missing significant cellphones. Maybe not. But now I know it wouldn’t be beyond PFD’s thinking and acting to make sure they stay that way. And that, to me, is the most important thing I learned this weekend. It will be very interesting to watch and see whether anybody can prove me wrong. Thanks for enlightening me regarding the legal stuff!”

      • WantsToKnowTheTruth says

        A scientific theory should be as simple as possible,
        but no simpler than that. — Albert Einstein

        It’s also possible that since they (PFD) weren’t allowed to
        clean up the site until they were told all the official
        ‘investigators’ were DONE with it… that PFD honestly
        believed a lot of other people had already decided that
        whatever was left for them to find was totally
        irrelevant to the investigation.

        However… that ‘simple’ explanation still has one
        big flaw that violates Albert’s (fine) quote.

        It’s TOO simple.

        It doesn’t explain why they would then decide a missed
        iPhone melted to a backpack would be important
        enough to notify YCSO about… but an actual almost
        totally undamaged high-res camera capable of both
        photos and video/audio would NOT be equally important.

        • Marti Reed says

          That’s totally easy. Someone decided Clayton Witted’s cellphone most likely didn’t have the data on it that “they” were concerned about. So by submitting it to YCSO, they would be obviously cooperating with the investigation. Snap.

        • Marti Reed says

          My dad, for about 60 years, regularly published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). On such obviously non-controversial things as nuclear weapons testing, fallout, explosives, the behavior of shock waves in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect and global warming, how to design windmills, oh and also the use of rain-making techniques over Rapid City, South Dakota (which was seriously flooded by that) and elsewhere. Ya know, that kind of stuff. You can imagine what conversations around our dinner table were about. And I worked for/with him on this kind of stuff from 1990 until 2007, when he all of a sudden, up and died. I know how this stuff works. I think my hypothesis is simple enough, and also supported by the facts I have just published. I’m duly waiting for someone to disprove it. That’s how this stuff works. And I think you totally understand what I mean!

        • Marti Reed says

          “It’s also possible that since they (PFD) weren’t allowed to clean up the site until they were told all the official
          ‘investigators’ were DONE with it… that PFD honestly
          believed a lot of other people had already decided that
          whatever was left for them to find was totally
          irrelevant to the investigation.”


          I don’t think when they cleaned up the site, anybody was paying much attention to what they were gathering up. I mean, it was probably getting dark, and they were just probably trying to get the job done.

          And then “they” started sifting through the stuff. Knowing that, by now, whatever they found was, yes, irrelevant to the investigation. How convenient!