Contrary to official investigations, Yarnell Hill fire supervisors knew Granite Mountain Hotshots were moving from safety zone towards Yarnell before the crew perished


New information gleamed from recordings of Granite Mountain Supervisor Eric Marsh and Yarnell Hill fire commanders indicate that Marsh was at a ranch house on the outskirts of Yarnell shortly before the entrapment of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew.

Wildfire Today posted a story Sunday that discusses recordings that indicate Marsh was at the Boulder Springs Ranch and that fire commanders were aware that the Granite Mountain crew was moving from their safety zone on a ridge top west of Yarnell. At one point, a fire commander asked Marsh if the crew could move faster.

The Boulder Springs Ranch is about 600 yards east of the site where Marsh and 18 other Granite Mountain Hotshots were overrun by flames at the base of a box canyon packed with unburned vegetation.

Neither the Arizona Forestry Division’s Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR) released in September  nor the Arizona Industrial Commission report released in December mention the recorded discussions that are included in the supporting documentation in the SAIR.

Jim Karels, the Florida State Forester who led the Serious Accident Investigation Team, said in response to a question by InvestigativeMEDIA following the Sept. 28 press conference when the SAIR was publicly released that there was no evidence that Marsh was at the Boulder Springs Ranch.

The recorded conversations torpedo the SAIR’s claim that there was a 33-minute gap in communications between Marsh and fire commanders between 4:04 and 4:37 p.m. on June 30. The crew was overrun by 2,000-degree flames sometime around 4:47 p.m.

Marsh told incident supervisors “I’m at the house” and that his crew was “coming down from the heel of the fire” during a conversation at 4:13 p.m. The house is believed to be the Boulder Springs Ranch, which had been identified earlier in the day as a safety zone because vegetation had been cleared around its perimeter.

Yarnell was under a mandatory evacuation order by 4 p.m. and many elderly residents were fleeing their homes as the fire swept into the community.

© Copyright 2014 John Dougherty, All rights Reserved. Written For: Investigative MEDIA


  1. WFF says

    Its been 8 months and I’ve read multiple articles and listened to endless speculation. I still haven’t seen anything that resembles a smoking gun. I mean now we’re down to listening to background conversations on radio transmissions. I think thats pretty inventive, and I liked it, it’s smart and resorceful but how long did it take to come up with? On top of that man that is just going to be really skecthy to say that it’s complete conversations or not and who the voice belongs to.
    I can’t figure out why people are suprised that the reports aren’t complete or didn’t consider all facets. They were too hurried. It should have taken a year to research an incident of that complexity and write that report. It’s not straight forward and it’s not going to be. To think that anyone is going to remember exactly what they did, said, and saw with that level of complexity, under stress, trying to not make a mistake is ridiculous OHSA was a non-participant, they sent people who don’t know anything about wildfire or the commonalities of fighting wildfire. We propably won’t see a book out of John McClean for a year or two, because the guy waits until things settle so people can be approached. JD thought he could get an interview with the BR guys and couldn’t understand why FS people wouldn’t talk to anyone. They had something to “hide”. I know people that are on that team and both ops chiefs, and several of the IHC guys, no one wanted an accident. No one is going to talk because of the way some of you people act, your obssessed and crazy. I think a few of you crave attention. Several of you seem to have PTSD (right fully so) and you need to get some help for the sake of yourself and your loved ones.

    It’s going to be a while but the truth will come out as best as it can be put together. Everyone accused Wag Dodge of killing his crew, but it wasn’t true was it. Took 40 years to find out though.

  2. Curious hotshot says

    2 things: one, in photo 0887, there is a swamper mostly hidden behind the sawyer in the foreground (you can see his legs and dolmar behind the line gear). Not sure if that holds any significance.

    Two: found this- – start listening at 0:50
    -I think this is new from Elizabeth

  3. Elizabeth says

    Bob, I am not “John,” obviously, but I don’t think that John *HAS* the clean
    audio. I asked John Maclean if he would share it with us. I’ll report back.

    I am continuing to load the audios to Youtube. One of the relevant ones is here:

    It would be useful if Holly Neil (who comes to this website) could tell us which audio/video she is referencing, so that I could at least give you a link to THAT video in particular (since I have at least 30 up, and I know that John Dougherty has a bunch as well). The audios/videos in the FOIA/FOIL dump have pretty straightforward names, so, if she can even just tell us which videos/audios she used, I can link for y’all.

    That said, not everyone shares information and resources as freely as John Doughtery does. He has been SELFLESS, really, in terms of sharing information with all of us, rather than hoarding it to keep as a scoop. Hopefully Maclean and Holly will do the same, but obviously they have no obligation to do so (and JD doesn’t, either, but my impression is that he does it both because he is committed to the truth – not a scoop – and because he is a super good guy).

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