The Arizona State Forestry Division Saturday released additional video taken by Prescott National Forest firefighters during the Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013 in response to an Oct. 11 public records request filed by InvestigativeMEDIA.
The Forestry Division posted the videos on its website Saturday afternoon. All of the newly released videos are posted at the end of this story.
“On November 7, 2014, the following video clips were received by Arizona State Forestry through a Freedom of Information Act request to the US Forest Service,” the division stated in a press release posted on its website.
“To be transparent with the public, the videos are presented exactly as they have been received. The redactions were done before these videos came into the possession of Arizona State Forestry,” the division stated.
An eight-minute segment of the video taken by the Prescott National Forest firefighters was released last year and contained the dramatic audio of Granite Mountain Hotshots’ desperate calls for help moments before they were killed in a ferocious wildfire. The segment is included in the supplemental records that accompanied the Forestry Division’s Serious Accident Investigation Report into the tragedy and identified as “Exhibit A-22 HelmetCamVideo”. The supplemental records were released last winter and are posted here.
InvestigativeMEDIA learned that there was additional video taken by the PNF firefighters and filed a series of public records with state and federal agencies for the video.
On Oct. 11, InvestigativeMEDIA emailed a request under the Arizona Public Records Law to the state Forestry Division.
Forestry Division spokeswoman Carrie Dennett responded the next morning, Sunday, Oct. 12, by email stating the division did not have any unedited videos beyond what was released as exhibit “A-22 HelmetCamVideo”.
“Arizona State Forestry does not have that unedited version of the helmet cam video,” Dennett stated. “I have given you the only helmet cam video we have in our possession (the one that is about 8 minutes long). If/when we do receive that unedited video, I will fill your attached public records request.”
On Monday, Oct. 13, InvestigativeMEDIA filed a public records request for the additional video with the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health. ADOSH responded on Oct. 22 stating that it did not have any additional video other than the A-22 video released in the SAIR exhibits. ADOSH’s investigative report and supplemental records are posted here.
Also on Oct. 13, InvestigativeMEDIA filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Prescott National Forest for additional video shot by Prescott National Forest firefighters. The PNF forwarded the request to U.S. Forest Service national headquarters in Washington.
On Oct. 21, a Forest Service FOIA officer confirmed by email that the agency had received InvestigativeMEDIA’s records request.
“We are working as quickly as possible to process each request and appeal in the order in which it was received,” FOIA officer George Vargas stated.
The Forest Service did not provide a copy of the videos to InvestigativeMEDIA prior to releasing them to the Forestry Division on Friday.
Forestry Division spokeswoman Dennett sent InvestigativeMEDIA an email at 1:47 p.m, Sat., Nov. 8 stating her agency had posted the additional videos on its website.
“In response to your public records request dated October 11, 2014, I am enclosing a link to the videos taken by USFS personnel,” Dennett stated. “Arizona State Forestry received the videos from the USFS on Friday, November 7, 2014, and uploaded all of the videos to our website on Saturday, November 8, 2014. The videos were not edited by Arizona State Forestry, and were uploaded in exactly the same format as we received them.”
The newly released videos appear below: