"Leave it alone ... you shouldn't go down this road ... let it be." How many times ha
"Leave it alone ... you shouldn't go down this road ... let it be." How many times have you heard these same statements from others when mentioning the Yarnell Hill Fire?
2018-07-15 | Arizona Desert Walker Joy A. Collura and contributing other(s)
Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"
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This will be a short post on a few areas that I consider valuable to why I am doing this website revealing worthwhile new information for those continuing to delve into the Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire). None of us are perfect in this world yet until the day I pass on I will call to the forefront the diseased areas of the Fire Industry and its current culture ways. These human, irreplaceable firefighters (FF) dying in avoidable circumstances is unacceptable. We as a world are saddened when we lose a FF. I just am tired of the system making "Heroism" the social norm. These FFs do not "willingly" give their lives as the media portrays. Yet the T R U T H matters in each of these avoidable deaths and the truth is often very painful, especially when the truth is hidden from us and we must continue to reveal it years later.
The Serious Accident Investigation Team-Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIT-SAIR) page 4 states: "This report has two parts. Part One includes the fact-based Narrative of the incident and offers the Team’s Analysis, Conclusions, and Recommendations. Part Two, the Discussion section, is meant to prompt discussion and facilitate learning. It explores multiples [sic] concepts and perspectives, in order to support the broader community seeking to make sense of the accident and to improve safety and resilience." (emphasis added)
The SAIT-SAIR is far short of "fact-based" although I will go so far as to say I feel it is definitely a "narrative," misleading in many ways. Next, the SAIT-SAIR gives us direction "to prompt discussion and facilitate learning" because "it explores multiples [sic] concepts and perspectives ... to support the broader community seeking to make sense of the accident and to improve safety and resilience." Myself and many others and, of course - you - the reader(s) are certainly included in that broader community trying to make sense of the debacle and for safety improvement and lessons learned. Very little of the SAIT-SAIR makes sense to me. And I was there as one of the eyewitnesses.
The SAIT "investigation" is done and the alleged "Factual" & Management Report is complete, written, and posted to the world. And best of all, it's our God-given right of Free Speech under the First Amendment of the US Constitution to challenge it and present the truth as I know it.
First off, addressing the Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) SAIT-SAIR, Jay Kurth, one of Team Members of the SAIT, comments about the the YH Fire in a FACEBOOK post in the comments section below.
I think all details like this should be tracked down and revealed to everyone until the truth is told and understood and made known; from "how" the Granite Mountain Hot Shots (GHMS) originated to the last moment when the alleged "investigators" took over - "it all matters."
( https://www.facebook.com/100003813808108/posts/759493587521094/ ) (must be on 'Friend's list' to view the page)
Don Feser (respected former USFS wildland fire supervisor) Facebook (FB) page with YH Fire and GMHS thread
The following is a May 19, 2016 Don Feser FB page discussion about Fred Schoeffler and Dave Provencio (former Hot Shot Crew Supts) emails to SAIT Co-Team Leader Mike Dudley regarding Eric Marsh, the GMHS, and the subsequent InvestigativeMEDIA article about it. There are also comments related to the GMHS failing to abide by the established basic wildland firefighting rules (i.e. 10 & 18 & LCES) the debatable worthiness of the Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA), general WF distrust of the SAIT, and specific distrust of the SAIR. The most revealing are from former SAIT Team Member Jay Kurth's comment on the SAIT-SAIR subject.
I screenshot the actual posted comments from the original FB posts and then, for easier reading, I highlight and comment on them below.
Figure 1. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
Figure 1a. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
Figure 1b. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
Figure 1c. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
Figure 1d. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
Figure 1e. Facebook thread (Don Feser) WF discussion May 19, 2016. Source: Facebook
The following May 19, 2016 comments below are those transcribed from the above May 19, 2016 FB posts, however, with my comments in brackets [ ] and in a different font.
InvestigativeMEDIA.com post of "Forest Service ignored information from hotshot leaders about Granite Mountain’s history of bad decisions."
Don Feser: [discussing above InvestigativeMEDIA article] "For what it's worth and my hunch is, that there's some truth behind it."
Will Silverman: Sad story. "One up." hmmm.
Mike Mercado: "Sadly Don its across the board, the Forest Service puts people in leadership roles when they are not ready or shouldn't be there."
Ron Heinig: "I was involved with a facilitated learning analysis or lessons learned report for a traffic accident that resulted in no injuries but the total loss of an agency vehicle. Interviews were conducted and police reports were made and the details of the accident were obvious and clear. When the FLA was made available it was totally incorrect and the Chief at the time was pursuing his own agenda.and made several assumptions that were false. I complained to the Forest Safety Officer and District Ranger about the FLA but it was never corrected. So in a sense it seems like the FS Safety Journey is just a bunch of BS." (emphasis added)
[It sure seems to me that this person speaks from experience with one of these alternative "investigations" or official means looking into these incidents. It appears to be clear to me from his post that this FLA was inaccurate with the USFS Chief, the highest authority in the USFS, unethically and unprofessionally pursuing his own agenda, while making false assumptions. This gives the impression that complaints to the Forest Safety Officer and District Ranger went unheeded and uncorrected, calling into question the USFS alleged "Safety Journey."]
Don Feser: "Right you are Ron, welcome to the disbeliever's club!"
Ron Heinig: "I guess I became a member when I realized that management was more interested in covering their asses then telling the truth. This was my experience with this incident. When I confronted the Safety Officer about my concerns about the FLA he just looked at me and folded his hands on his desk and said "I'm Sorry". I asked what he was going to do to correct the FLA and he looked at me and said 'I'm Sorry'."(emphasis added)
[To me, this gives the clear impression that upper management cannot be trusted, and that allegedly trusted overhead and supervisors like Safety Officers are complicit in these lies and merely acquiesce to the deception.]
Don Feser: "For these reasons, we got Public Law 107-203 after the Thirtymile Fire in 2001. The U.S. Congress had to step in and pass legislation that mandated an independent USDA Office of the Inspector General investigation of all Forest Service firefighter line of duty deaths. There is a lot of corruption and abuse of power in the Federal Government.."
Don Feser: "I guess I'm still holding out for the truth to be revealed in regards to the Yarnell Fire. Perhaps when those in the know, find the courage to come forward, and give their narrative to a writer like John Maclean, we will finally know what happened."
Franklin Otis Carroll: "Ask Fred Shoeffler for a copy of his PowerPoint on this incident."
Franklin Otis Carroll: "On the other hand Kari Greer said on her two assignments with GM they were among the most squared away crews she's seen...she's seen a lot."
Don Feser: "Franklin, the one thing that resonates with me more than anything else with the GMHS, was their apparent comfort zone with positioning and maneuvering in the green. I spent many years as a IHC firefighter in SoCal and throughout the country, and irregardless of ground or air delivery to the line, we maintained one foot in the burn, and our escape routes and safety zones were into the burn. This was more than just a SOP learned in training, we knew from experience that we survived to fight another day because of this principle. I can't reveal all my information and thoughts in this forum, but I know that Kari Greer is a great photographer, and Fred Shoeffler, whom I've known since the 70's would be my source for IHC tactics."
Franklin Otis Carroll: "I agree. Old School never got old. Do it right or die."
Don Feser: "Now that we're on a roll, who certified the GMHS in 2013, and who investigated the GMHS (firefighter fatality) incident on the 2013 Yarnell Fire? It's the obvious place to start, but findings thus far aren't credible."
[He asks who investigated the GMHS fatality incident on the 2013 YH Fire and then asserts that It's the obvious starting place. Thankfully, he states that at least some, not all, findings thus far are untrustworthy and thus unbelievable.]
Jay Kurth: "It was a learning review, not an investigation. They weren't findings. It was a statement of the story as best as could be put together from the information provided. We wrote specifically about the incident and what could be backed up with proof. It was as factually accurate as could be at the time. It was intentional to not draw suppositions or make bull shit assumptions about Marshes [sic] or Steeds [sic] thinking when it could not be backed up except with hindsight arrogance. Oh not everyone tells the whole story when asked either... (emphasis added)
[My favorite part ... one of the YHF SAIT Team Members admitting to us that that the SAIT was, in fact, "NOT and investigation" with "findings." It was instead "a statement of the story, as factually accurate as could be at the time ... without "hindsight arrogance." As far as the alleged "hindsight arrogance,there is nothing hindsight about it, I allege that it was merely a narrative about a fairly tale of no fault when 19 trained and mostly experienced WFs died when they left their Safety Zone in 'the black,' and traveled through unburned fuels in chutes and chimneys, ultimately deploying their fire shelters in a deadly bowl at the worst possible time during obvious, radically increasing fire behavior."](emphasis added) [Jay Kurth continued]: "Does it make you feel better to bash the dead? Nowhere did the report explicitly say all choices were right. As I recall the words were something about no fault. Like a no contest plea. We left it up to firefighters to learn from what was written and provided some decision points where people could try and make sense of the choices that were acted upon and draw their own conclusions. All of you who relish in blame and revile (sic) in your own glory by bashing the system and slandering the review team should consider your own motivation. It certainly does not appear to be learning." (emphasis added)
[I allege that my opinions have nothing to do with bashing the dead. Unfortunately, they are dead because they failed to recognize obvious fire weather and fire behavior indicators and failed to recognize, heed, and follow the Basic WF Rules (i.e. 10 & 18 & LCES). And I am allowed this conclusion because your SAIT-SAIR "was written and provided some decision points where people could try and make sense of the choices that were acted upon and draw their own conclusions." There is no relishing in blame, only coming to allowable conclusions based on their faulty actions and fatal outcomes. I feel it is easy and acceptable to "bash the system" and the review team with this type of shoddy, deceptive "investigation" and less-than-factual report writing. My motivation is, always has been, and always will be - THE TRUTH. I guarantee you that my motivation is all about learning - LEARNING THE TRUTH.] "Oh and I have a solid 34, 5 as an IHC Superintendent, reputation for making hard choices and doing things right, including in southern California. Plus I don't pontificate about conspiracy theories and get laughed at behind my back."
[That is comforting to know that Mr. Kurth carries that much experience under such trying and difficult decision making conditions in various fire regions. However, I take issue with his "conspiracy" accusation. Conspiracy is legally defined as "An agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, along with an intent to achieve the agreement's goal. Most U.S. jurisdictions also require an overt act toward furthering the agreement. An overt act is a statutory requirement, not a constitutional one. See Whitfield v. United States, 453 U.S. 209 (2005). The illegal act is the conspiracy's "target offense." Conspiracy generally carries a penalty on its own. In addition, conspiracies allow for derivative liability where conspirators can also be punished for the illegal acts carried out by other members, even if they were not directly involved. Thus, where one or more members of the conspiracy committed illegal acts to further the conspiracy's goals, all members of the conspiracy may be held accountable for those acts." (Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute)(emphasis added) Therefore, myself and so many others feel that the SAIT falls squarely into that deep, dark cavern.
[I feel that it's fairly clear to me and so many others, that members of the SAIT and the cabal of literally scores of alleged Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) engaged in conspiracy regarding their "investigation" and creation of their subsequent alleged "factual" report. The SAIT had unfettered access to the full complement of UNREDACTED fire data, audios, photos, videos, and other public records (and not-so-public records), so if myself and others can read between the lines and come to these admissible conclusions, then there is something most definitely wrong with the SAIT investigative process. And there is no theory here, defined as "something suggested as a reasonable explanation for facts, a condition, or an event, esp. a systematic or scientific explanation." (online Cambridge dictionary) On the contrary, myself and others strongly believe that this shameful, malfeasance occurred regarding the YH Fire SAIT-SAIR. Malfeasance is legally defined as "the commission (as by a public official) of a wrongful or unlawful act involving or affecting the performance of one's duties." (online FindLaw Legal Dictionary). I have been laughed at both to my face and behind my back by naysayers and worse for my stance as the eyewitness, revealing the truth about the YH Fire. There are many of us, WFs and civilians alike, that what the SAIT did was wrong and they need to make it right, on this fire and all the othersITs and a sham have been angered, hurt, and incensed ever since it was released.]
Don Feser: "Then the title of this effort should be changed from 'Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report,' to 'Learning Review.'"
Jay Kurth: "True statement."
[I feel that myself and many others agree with these suitably revealing statements from both of these highly experienced WFs concerning the more accurate realignment of at least the term "investigation" to the phrase "learning review." So then, the time is right to open up what is needed here - a true investigation - with genuine, honest, truthful investigators with integrity that will complete a truly "factual" report. And the newly released fire data that is forthcoming hopefully from this website (i.e. audios, photos, videos, information) will likely be the primary source for that.]
It was passed along to me in an email from another WF regarding Don Feser allowing permission to: "Feel free to include the following facts in regards to your efforts. Not to be a complete CV, but I have fifteen years of IHC experience, (Texas Canyon, Lolo, El Cariso), with seven years as a superintendent. My ICS qualifications include OSC1, and ICT1.I have an additional twenty five years experience in fire and emergency management, including seven years as the Chief of Fire and Aviation Management, Angeles National Forest, my public service spans forty years." (emphasis added)
Feser went on to write in the same email: "I'm truly disgusted with the current situation, and understand your frustration. I know what it feels like to be called a 'disgruntled former employee' by the Chief of the Forest Service after my Congressional testimony on the ANF Station Fire of 2009. My testimony attempted to describe how far the Forest Service had strayed from their stated objectives, and how they covered up the 'investigation' into a catastrophic incident. Nothing has changed in my opinion." (emphasis added)
The Station Fire, which began on the Angeles NF, burned up to and threatened LA County Station (LACoFD) 16, LACoFD Camp 16 housed 105 inmate firefighters, one of five fire camps in a cooperative program between the LACoFD and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The 'investigation' of the "catastrophic incident" that Feser refers to was published as a "Factual Report" of a 'Burnover and Fatal Vehicle Accident" when two Los Angels County Fire Captain Ted Hall, Superintendent of Crew 16, and Fire Fighter Specialist Arnie Quinones, Foreman of Crew 16. It basically resulted from a delayed-too-long firing operation gone bad.
One of the most disturbing assertions in the "Factual Report" to me is when they explain that the two LACoFD firemen "gave their lives performing their last act of courage." This is disturbing to me. Is this the way that municipal/wildland FFs feel and think regarding wildland firefighting? I sure hope that WFs avoid that attitude.
Lo and behold, here are just a few revelations you will find when you refuse to leave it alone, don't go down this road, and just let it be.
Figures 1 & 2. AZSF Brian Lauber was traveling NORTH on Highway 89 when he took these two 4:29 PM (1629) photos on June 30, 2013; the upper IMG_1334.JPG photo was taken at exactly 4:29:39 PM and the lower IMG_1335.JPG photo was taken at exactly 4:29:53 PM (14 seconds after IMG_1334.JPG). Visible is a pure line of fire advancing naturally out across the middle bowl and headed for the box canyon near the Helms/BSR taken from north of the Yarnell, AZ Ranch House restaurant. These were given as evidence to SAIT Human Factors Investigator Brad Mayhew and never utilized in the SAIT-SAIR. Source: Brian Lauber (AZSF)
Just to the LEFT of the smoke cloud and the line of fire in BOTH of these photos. The ‘hazy’ mountain ridge seen in the background is the exact ‘southern route’ that the GMHS took to reach the saddle and then drop into the box canyon. Even though the line of fire out in the middle-bowl is approaching the MOUTH of the box canyon, there are only 540 seconds before GMHS Steed’s first MAYDAY. There is NO EVIDENCE in these photos that the line of fire was ALSO simultaneously ‘crawling up’ those back ridges towards the saddle as the SAIT-SAIR fireline images suggested. It’s just not happening. So that puts a big damper on the ‘theory’ that the GMHS saw fire both AHEAD OF and BEHIND them (up on the saddle they descended from) at 4:39 PM when the first MAYDAY went out.
The above are AZ Department of Safety and Health (ADOSH) ASFD misc. photos taken with an ‘iPhone 4′ on 30 June 2013; timestamps can be considered ‘Network times’ and ‘accurate.’ These pictures show the main fireline as it was approaching the mouth of the box canyon circa 4:29 PM (actually just a few seconds shy of 4:30 PM).
Compare these to the SAIT-SAIR idealized image below (Figure 3) in the SAIT-SAIR as Figure 18 on page 77.
Figure 3. SAIT-SAIR Figure 18. "Fire splitting with south head entering the middle bowl and north head moving toward the entrapment bowl." Source: YH Fire SAIT-SAIR
You will readily note that there is only fire below and NO fire above when comparing the real, truthful photos in Figures 1 & 2 to the fictional idealized image in Figure 3. Some will argue that there was or "could have been" fire from above. Trust me, there was NO fire from above as alleged in the SAIT-SAIR and by PFD WBC Willis.
I allege that this fits the SAIT habit of first establishing a "conclusion" and then finding the "facts" to fit their preconceived conclusion" addressed elsewhere in a separate post on this website.
Further Google Earth overlay enhancement of the photos shown below in Figures 1 & 2 are very informative and instructive and will help to put this into perspective.
Figure 4. Brian Lauber photo with Google Earth overlay. Far right red icon is GMHS lunch spot / Safety Zone; curved yellow line is the mid-slope road on the top of the Weaver Mountains and the upper portion of the GMHS "predetermined route;" middle red icon high on the ridgetop is the GMHS descent point off the top of the Weaver Mountains; green curved line down to the next lower red icon is the lower portion of the GMHS "predetermined route" to their Deployment Zone and Fatality Site; the next lowest red icon is GMHS Deployment Zone and Fatality Site; and the lowest red icon is the Helms or Boulder Springs Ranch (BSR). Source: InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) contributor.
Figure 5. MARY NGUYEN Channel 12 News photo. June 30, 2013 1631 hours, two minutes AFTER the above Brian Lauber photos shown in Figures 1, 2 & 3. Source: InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) contributor.
Next, consider the KPNX 12 News, based in Phoenix, Arizona, just ran an article about the grand opening of the new GMHS Learning and Tribute Center inside the Prescott Gateway Mall.
This is from the KPNX 12 News, Phoenix article titled "Tribute center for Granite Mountain Hotshots ready to open" by Jessica De Nova. It was published and updated on June 25, 2018.
( https://www.12news.com/article/news/local/arizona/tribute-center-for-granite-mountain-hotshots-ready-to-open/75-567450256 )
The Channel 12 News article has an informative slide show located in the middle of the article with 30 photos of the YH Fire from their original archives. Photo number 16 is particularly instructive. It appears to be a new one and never seen before. In a word, it is IMPORTANT. It may be the best photographic evidence yet of the YH Fire movement entering the box canyon, minutes before all the GMHS would be burned over.
The photo was taken the afternoon of June 30, 2013, just south of the Ranch House Restaurant, on the EAST side of Highway 89 and looking out towards the box canyon and the deployment site. It was taken at exactly 4:31 PM, just 8 minutes before the GMHS initial emergency radio call was recorded at exactly 4:39 PM.
The one who interpreted the photo metadata is pretty confident with "exactly 4:31 PM" because this particular photo was taken with a network-connected iPhone 4S that always obtains accurate date/time information directly from the cellular network and the original photo sitting on the ’12 News’ server still has all that (accurate) EXIF metadata embedded in the photograph itself.
This particular photo is important because it also appears to disprove a number of claims made in the original SAIT-SAIR.
This 4:31 PM photograph was used to create the cross-fade video below from the photograph itself into the absolute equivalent ‘Google Earth’ view.
That photo ‘crossfade’ and ‘fly-around’ is here - Video Title: ( Yarnell-1631-crossfade-1 https://youtu.be/_p6h5m6_W0k )
Figure 6. Video cross-fade of 4:31 PM photograph in Figure 5 above used to create the cross-fade video from the photograph into the absolute equivalent ‘Google Earth’ view. Source: KPNX News 12, InvestigativeMEDIA Contributor, Google Earth
Source for the above KPNX 12 News article: InvestigativeMEDIA post June 27, 2018 at 11:41 pm
( http://www.investigativemedia.com/please-begin-yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-xxvi-here/#comment-474595 )