InvestigativeMEDIA 5 Years Later
Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"
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Independent Public Interest Journalist John Dougherty, InvestigativeMedia (IM), began posting about the June 30, 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy in July 7, 2013, with an article titled: “Honor guard leads procession of the fallen 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots”
( http://www.investigativemedia.com/honor-guard-procession-of-the-fallen-19-granite-mountain-hotshot-crew/ ). This is the link for the above article.
Other alleged-to-be investigative journalists and websites dealing with wildland firefighting are very restrictive toward those making comments that stray from the standard “Party Line” perspectives. They are blatantly foreclosed from submitting comments, especially if they are counter to the webmaster’s beliefs or “narratives.”
Several of the following experienced Wildland Firefighters and Supervisors (WFs) expressed their sincere (often emotional) views based on their professional experience, training, judgement - and mistakes, including lessons learned. Almost all of these WFs had experienced wildland fire deaths and destruction in varying degrees and some of them are still dealing with the lingering psychological aftermath of these incidents.
And because of that, we ALL grieve for the family, friends, and loved ones, and all others affected by the many facets of the YH Fire tragedy. This includes countless personal tragedies within the main tragedy.
Several of the long-term IM posters include:
Robert [eventually the Second due to there being two Roberts], a former USFS Hot Shot Crew Supt. with over 34 years of wildland fire experience, posted on IM regarding LCES, on July 30, 2013.
Robert (Bob) Powers, a former USFS Hot Shot Foreman who lost his Father in the July 1953 Rattlesnake Fire (CA) on September 2, 2013 posted on the Ten Standard Fire Orders.
Gary Olson, a former USFS Hot Shot Crew Superintendent of two USFS HS Crews and retired as a BLM Special Agent Law Enforcement Officer, posted on September 10, 2013, his emotional views on some of the YH Fire Incident Management Team (IMT) overhead.
WantsToKnowTheTruth (WTKTT), an anonymous, ingenious poster that has proven to be a huge asset regarding data and metadata, and a “beautiful counsel” to me, posted on October 21, 2013, regarding the inaccuracies and ineptness of the Serious Accident Investigation Team-Serious Accident Investigation Report SAIT-SAIR.
TheTruthWillAlwaysRemainElusive (TTWARE) posted on October 23, 2013 about the shortcomings of the SAIT-SAIR.
Tex (Sonny) Gilligan, aka Charlie, one of the YH Fire hiker / witnesses and a very Irish PhD, hard rock miner, cowboy, logger, “a mucker and a bad motherf**ker,” surveyor, Reno, NV taxi driver, parole officer/outlaw, and former saloon owner, among other things, posted on October 15, 2013, about “getting the facts out there outside of the standard investigation.”
Joy A. Collura (me), one of the YH Fire hiker / witnesses, posted on November 18, 2013, about the path that I took on the day of the June 30, 2013 YH fire.
Rocksteady, a Canadian WF, posted November 16, 2013, that “the Granite Mountain Hot Shots were ORDERED to move.”
Marti Reed, an ingenious asset with skills in cameras and metadata and a beautiful soul and I hope when I post my new data she returns to IM. She has been very good to me.
The Woodsman, another anonymous genius in his own right, with vast insight in human factors and leadership, who really takes these responsibilities serious.
Otis, the bloke from the UK
Norb Szczurek (aka my' Uncle Norb'), a veteran Lake Tahoe FD (Hybrid) WF,
Diane Lomas, retired AZ schoolteacher, posted about learning answers to what happened at the YH Fire. I am going to finally help you out Diane. Bear with me though.
And even though she may loathe me making the connection to IM, Elizabeth Nowicki, was one of the heaviest and most beneficial contributors with her revealing the USFS Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) Study videos and more … and you too Calvin.
Sitta, a great basecamp idea.
Fire20+ (Deanna Thompson) and a friend of Ms. Holly Neill, posted many worthwhile comments and then left.
In the earliest stages of IM, there were many other trained and experienced WF posters that were openly commenting and discussing the various debatable issues surrounding the deaths of the GMHS and the many competencies and incompetencies of the IMTs and misc. Overhead making (and not making) competent and timely decisions.
Regrettably in the early stages of IM, one poster, critical of these experienced WFs posting views and opinions before the final SAIT-SAIR, basically quashed most of these posters from commenting ever again. The SAIT-SAIR-ADOSH reports have been out for five years now. Unfortunately, this is still happening even today five years later. This trend is thankfully changing because many WFs and IM followers have always disagreed with the report findings. This especially applies to me - the eyewitness. We have IM and now this non-captcha easy-to-post website.
In a way, all who post on IM are somewhat of a family. And all respectful comments and opinions and views are welcome. In a word, it’s okay to disagree or as the saying goes – at times, “we agree to disagree.”
Investigative journalism in the world has been waning in many places but not here. Five years later, the tenacious InvestigativeMEDIA is still going strong, looking into the contentious and enigmatic YH Fire.
I hope this post honors the 19 GMHS, as well as inspires you to visit the many IM Chapters from the beginning. The IM YH Fire site was constantly visited by SAIT and ADOSH investigators and is still constantly visited to this day by many in the wildland fire industry, even at the highest levels.
In a word, those of us that know there is much more to the story of YH Fire are here to stay. We have made it a lifelong commitment. We feel the SAIT-SAIR had the resources and tools and expertise to do a thorough, professional, and honest investigation, and yet in my eyes, as the eyewitness, they must admit they fell far short in many areas and need much improvement in their investigator skills and integrity. I will begin to show you all that as time allows with this blog and all the UNREDACTED data the alleged "investigators" had at their disposal. Barry Hicks and ADOSH were better investigators than what was shown by the SAIT.
Dr. Ted Putnam hopes that my web page will open new doors to further information. However, he is steadfastly dug in on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in Montana where thirteen WFs died.
Remembering June 30, 2013 and the Yarnell Community and the GMHS
Figure 1. The yellow thumbtack on the Google Earth Image in the upper right identifies the photographer's location for the two photos below this image. Some locals thought the two fire photos below were possibly of the Sesame to The Shrine area. I used Google Earth to mark the photographer's location on the map image below and it is not even near the Fire Break. Source: Google Earth
Figure 2. The photo represents what I have seen in others' actual photos and videos that were taken on June 28-30, 2013 of the fire break area, represented by the green/blue star. These photos and videos exist but have not yet been made public. Source: Google Earth
Figure 3. The photo represents what I have seen in others' actual photos and videos that were taken on June 28-30, 2013 of the fire break area, represented by the green/blue star. These photos and videos do exist; they have not yet been made public. Notice the Fire Break, Shrine, Sesame Street, and "wash area" (chute) drainage alignment directly into the GMHS Deployment Site in the upper right. Source: Google Earth
Figure 4. Photo with metadata overlay of the photo in Figure 5 below. Refer to photo in Figure 1 at yellow pushpin in upper right. Source: Yavapai County Records
Figure 5. Photo of fire behavior in area of Yarnell looking westerly right after you leave Yarnell heading toward Peeples Valley, depicted by yellow pushpin in the upper right of Figure 1.Source: Yavapai County Records
My intent for posting these photos is to show the world what myself and others witnessed on June 30, 2013. This is a very sensitive and painful area for me and others. It is very difficult for me to post these because there are so many people that also possess photos and videos of this area and what occurred there. Something serious happened in the Sesame and Shrine area that afternoon that has caused such an odd aftermath that Blue Ridge is not even allowed to be interviewed to this day. I know people have requested to formally meet with some of the men and its left ignored and litigation have since passed.
There is still a lot of confusion and reason to question whether the GMHS Supt. truck, driven by McDonough, and the GMHS buggies accessed Glen Ilah from more towards Sesame Street (witnessed by several locals), and NOT over by the Shrine. We KNOW they went IN that way, so the confusion is where did they come OUT. The locals that stated they saw them exit from Sesame is contrary to the SAIT-SAIR that they exited from the Shrine. So, my red flag is WHY did they exit from the longer route out from the Shrine area when they were positioned out past Sesame Street. I have to ask, what was occurring out there in the Sesame Street area at the time?
The entire YH Fire event has traumatized myself and so many others. So many are fearful of what they experienced, what they saw, and what they possess. In a word, they have simply given up, they are disgusted with the whole thing to the point of apathy. Because of what some witnessed that day, they will not even return to their properties ever again. Some have even died because of the stresses of what they experienced and because none of what they saw that day was ever addressed in the SAIT-SAIR. It was as if it never happened. These "others" have allowed themselves, or worse yet, they have convinced themselves to no longer care about the entire YH Fire debacle.
When I took a GMHS loved one (parent) directly to the person who had a solid credible testimony of his YH Fire experience who lost his home, who was sitting on the knoll near the Sesame location with others, and when he went to shake his hand this eyewitness man's body gave out and collapsed to the ground in the depth of deep tears and he told this parent, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. This moment trying to bridge loved ones to the eyewitnesses halted because of the depth of emotions. We left the area and there was another eyewitness who also had a similar moment, so I decided bridging the loved ones to the actual eye witnesses was failing in processing data to one another and it became just too sensitive. Therefore, I relate in this because even posting all this is way too overwhelming for myself. It is my humble opinion that the YH Fire SAIT, self proclaimed "Human Factors Lead Investigator" Brad Mayhew should have been the one trying to bring out the human factors professional judgements and conclusions long ago.
We owe it to ourselves, the men that died that day, and every future WF to reveal and share this critical information for the purpose of wildland fire lessons learned.
If anyone viewing these pictures recognizes the location (i.e. telephone poles), please add your comments. Thank You.
Some of the current thoughts of the IM participants about the YH Fire and 5 years later are addressed here by IM poster Woodsman on June 29, 2018 at 6:38 pm: http://www.investigativemedia.com/please-begin-yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-xxvi-here/#comment-474623
webmaster reviewed page last: 7-19-18 1:45pm