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