Part 2 of 5 - Underneath every simple, obvious story about human error, there is a deeper, more
Part 2 of 5 - Underneath every simple, obvious story about ‘human error,’ there is a deeper, more complex story - a story about the system in which people work. Will these formerly unrevealed public records change the account of what occurred on June 30, 2013?
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12 - KJV)
Views expressed to "the public at large” and "of public concern"
DISCLAIMER: Please fully read the front page of the website (link below) before reading any of the posts ( www.yarnellhillfirerevelations.com )
The authors and the blog are not responsible for misuse, reuse, recycled and cited and/or uncited copies of content within this blog by others. The content even though we are presenting it public if being reused must get written permission in doing so due to copyrighted material. Our sincerest apologies for the delays. These posts were due out in August 2019 yet we had WIX.com website research a matter, and we are now finally able to rebuild the pages and make them "live." This extensive post may offend some due to the time of the year, however, we must stay the course to release information because more is yet to come out in future posts. To avoid such offense to some, please avoid further reading the posts until you find a proper reflective time for yourself. I did ask many people who were affected by this tragic Yarnell Hill Fire event and they said it was okay to post it this weekend. I know some people would not want any of this out at any time, yet I also know too many for "mental health" reasons need this out ASAP. Again - please avoid reading any further if you are unable to handle "sensitive material." Thank you.
Before we begin, this is a First Amendment issue addressed "to the public at large" because we have the right, and the obligation, to thoroughly examine and reveal the details of Yarnell Hill (YH) Fire debacle and the Granite Mountain Hot Shot (GMHS) tragedy - something the Serious Accident Investigation Team clearly failed to do. I feel the need to express that these YH Fire and GMHS issues are sensitive and uncomfortable matters to bring forward. WFs, FFs, and the general public are starving for information on this issue. So, I am sharing what I know from personal experience and people's feedback about the InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) blog - that it aroused contention, even aggression, and anxiety. We need to talk about these matters sooner, than later. To meet and get to know some of the GMHS family, friends, and loved ones - and being in that situation - is challenging enough; to engage in theses dialogues and communications could either compound the problem, which sometimes makes it worse, or we can take the road to minimize our "fall-outs" or disagreements in a respectful manner. One of the nuggets I want to communicate is - however long it takes me, there will be one concise memorable message. I have learned that I may have gathered (received) too much information and this, at times seems to be all too complicated and layered. So, to mitigate that, I have been "going to school" to educate myself about the wildland fire world in order to show you - the world - how serious the YH Fire and GMHS issue is. In closing, this is extremely emotional, time consuming, and to do what I am doing has the potential for confrontational situations (which I try to avoid). I know what I'm doing is the right thing to do. Those young men should never have died, those homes should never have been destroyed, and our lives should have never been affected by this tragedy fire. When reading this blog, you may not comprehend or remember everything you read, but you will remember how it made you feel while reading it. I wish I had the topic to make one "feel great" even though it is a difficult situation, so I'm doing my best to relate to those affected in a very open and humane way. We address the decisions and actions and outcomes of these Wildland Firefighters (WFs) and Firefighters (FFs) and avoid making personal "ad hominem" attacks. I never thought my life would be so detailed or fixated on anything like this. We are focused here on "complete lessons learned" toward lessening the inevitable wildland fire tragedies that are unfortunately likely to occur. Some GMHS family members have expressed that I can walk way from this, yet they cannot walk away because of how close they are. I think about those young men and this fire every day (as well as so many others) and this is the path God has led us to follow.
Consider now the Ninth Circuit ruling on a First Amendment issue concerning the Crystal Cox vs. Obsidian Finance Group case on the rights of free speech in a "matter of public concern," a key component. The justices' holding vindicated Ms. Cox and allowed her the same free speech protections as journalists, (i.e. when truth survives free speech).
Obsidian Finance Group vs. Crystal Cox ( http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/01/17/12-35238.pdf )
Hull, Tim (17 January 2014). "Blogger's Speech Rights Championed in the 9th". Courthouse News Service. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
"I think it sets an important precedent that bloggers, for First Amendment purposes, have the same rights as others do, as for example the institutional media does," Volokh said in a phone interview. "There have been plenty of past cases around the circuits that point in that direction, but this is the first time that the 9th Circuit has specifically ruled on this, and this is one of the cases that has focused on bloggers. Most cases have dealt with other nonprofessional media, but this one is particularly the first clear blogging case that I know from the circuit courts." (emphasis added)
9th Circuit Issues a Blogger-Friendly First Amendment Opinion–Obsidian Finance v. Cox ( https://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2014/01/9th-circuit-issues-a-blogger-friendly-first-amendment-opinion-obsidian-finance-v-cox.htm )
When Truth Survives Free Speech ( https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/business/media/when-truth-survives-free-speech.html?auth=login-email )
Blogger gets same speech protections as traditional press: U.S. court
( https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-blogger-ruling/blogger-gets-same-speech-protections-as-traditional-press-u-s-court-idUSBREA0G1HI20140117 )
U.S. Court: Bloggers Are Journalists - Even when they're libeling you
Obsidian Finance Group vs Cox Law School Review (https://willamette.edu/law/resources/journals/wlo/9thcir/2014/01/obsidian-finance-group-v.-cox.html)
"In defamation suits, the matter at issue must be of public concern and a plaintiff must show that the defendant acted negligently in publishing an assertion of fact, regardless of whether the writer is a member of the institutional media." (emphasis added)
"The Ninth Circuit found this case fell in the grey area between the defamation standards for public figures, which require a showing of actual malice, and private defamation suits under a negligence standard pursuant to Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. Declining to base First Amendment protections on whether a speaker is a journalist, the panel held that Gertz is not limited to institutional media defendants, and case law supports not providing institutional media with greater protection than other speakers. The panel also held that the blog post was of public concern ... The panel also affirmed the district court’s summary judgment on the other blog posts, finding them to be pure opinions and lacking an assertion of objective fact." (emphasis added)
The Ninth Circuit Holds—Correctly—That a Blogger Has the Same Defamation Protection as a Journalist ( https://verdict.justia.com/2014/02/03/ninth-circuit-holds-correctly-blogger-defamation-protection-journalist )
Protecting The Free Speech of Censors: The Crystal Cox Saga
Obsidian Finance Group vs. Cox - Wikipedia
To underpin and underscore pertinent issues in this post, we begin by addressing several important issues discussed in other wildland fire fatality Learning Reviews and in the Serious Accident Investigation Team ( SAIT ) - Serious Accident Investigation Report ( SAIR ) and other publications and venues, many that are Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) specific, prior to delving into the July 2019 Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics ( AHFE ) Conference images and issues presented in Washington, DC.
This Part 2 of 5 section contains information, data, images and photographs, videos, and links on the following: Ninth Circuit First Amendment caselaw; the Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Reviews; former Yarnell Hill Fire Chief Peter Anderson (RiP); Sesame Street and Shrine Fire / Fuel Break Corridor Fuel Treatment activities and projects; the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) and their alleged "Honor the Fallen" series; "securing the scene" of the YH Fire GMHS deployment / fatality site; the legal Touhy Principle and Federal Housekeeping statute that the Federal Government utilizes to control what their employees are "allowed" to share in records, testimony; the disparate treatment of USFS Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) Study; Freedom of Information (FOIA) Records Requests regarding all the USFS aircraft Air-to-Ground radio transmission records on the YH Fire; USFS and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) emails regarding the possession and status of the AFUE records and contained in a "3-ring binder;" USFS and USDA direction on the AFUE records, USFS employees talking about the YH Fire; Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR) Weather Channel video by then WLFLLC Manager Britt Rosso sharing his thoughts on discussing and talking about the YH Fire and the GMHS; hearsay exception testimony from Agency employee conversation with GMHS Asst. Foreman Jesse Steed on the morning of June 30, 2013; Sun City West FD FFs photos and videos of June 30, 2013, aggressive fire behavior in the 1624 (4:24 PM) time period and several crossfade YouTube videos of the same by WTKTT; excerpts from the "Our Investigation - Our Truth" podcast talking about a "backburn" [firing operation]; creating and maintaining defensible space; 18 USC criminal codes regarding Federal records management and handling of records, including violations for concealing and / or destroying records; some interesting and informative AZ Republic articles, photos, and tweets posted as a Pulitzer Prize series, including alerting the Wickenburg hospital about the possibility of several injured firefighters; You Tube video clips of YH Fire IMT and misc. WF supervisors personnel radio transmissions pertaining to the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation and observed fire behavior; discussions about wildland fire topography (saddles) and fire behavior (fluid dynamics and Venturi effect); and several human factors quotes.
Figure 26. PDF JPEG image of the Actions and Decisions & Orwellian Doublespeak - Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) and Learning Review from Saddleback Tree Fatality Learning Review - Section 7.1 Introduction - p. 28 (USFS Modoc NF - CA) Source: USFS
The above Orwellian Doublespeak posted above as a PDF JPEG image comes from the USFS Modoc NF Saddleback Tree Fatality Learning Review. What follows is a key example of the word manipulation that your alleged "Investigators" are up to on a Learning Review of the fatal Saddleback Fire Tree Fatality where a Smokejumper was killed on the Modoc NF in Northern California on June 10, 2013..
( httpd://www.wildfirelessons.net/orphans/viewincident?DocumentKey=3f6ac7f6-2dc7-4403-b54c-049fb6610403 ) You will need to copy and paste this link to access the Learning Review and / or Google search the details.
Please think about these bold and assertive Learning Review statements that follow. I think most readers would agree that these two individual words "actions" and "decisions" are clearly two separate and distinct words with two separate and distinct meanings. Right? Yet, this CRaP (I took some liberties here) bunch wants us to believe that "the difference between [them] could not be separated" and by merely placing a vertically diagonal slash (" / ") between the two words in the report made it acceptable as separate words individually or a "combination of both" words together. Furthermore, they go on to boldly assert matter-of-factually that the separate and distinct words "actions" and "decisions" are "consequences and not causes."
The authors confidently argue that this ongoing, unsettling word and truth manipulation has occurred with all wildfire SAIT Reports, Reviews, and the like where WFs were killed by fire - all the way back to the Mann Gulch Fire on the USFS Helena NF near Helena, Montana in 1949 where 12 Smokejumpers and one WF were killed by wildfire.
“To respect words and their conveyance of reality is to show respect to the very foundation of U. To manipulate words is to seek to manipulate truth and to instead choose falsity and illusion over reality. The manipulation of words is itself a violent act. …” (emphasis added) (Cummins and Pieper)
Source: Cummins, M. (2011) Words: Pieper’s “Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power.” The Alternative Path
In addition, the English, Political author George Orwell referred to the above as an "instrument for ...concealing or preventing thought" and that "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful." ... He went on to state that "It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. (emphasis added)
"Orwell refers to these words as "meaningless words" and goes on to state: "It is often easier to make up words of this kind ... if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. ... A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better." Orwell cautions that "This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases ... can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one's brain." (all emphasis added)
It all reeks of the insidious term "Doublethink" he describes in his novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Orwell continues: "Simply put, doublethink is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s mind at the same time. ... To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to [be] contradictory and believing in both of them ... This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. ...Moreover, doublethink’s self-deception allows [those in control] to maintain huge goals and realistic expectations: ... Since 1949 ... the word doublethink has become synonymous with relieving cognitive dissonance by ignoring the contradiction between two world views—or even of deliberately seeking to relieve cognitive dissonance. ..." (all emphasis added) Source: George Orwell Politics & the English Language (1946)
With regard to the Figure 26 (above) Orwellian Doublespeak issues addressed, here are a couple of verification sources below, with quotes.to debunk the "actions and decisions are consequences, not causes" falsehood.
"Research shows that people infer the time of their actions and decisions from their consequences."
"Consequences are the outcomes, or results, of your actions and decisions." (emphasis added) Source: Matute, H. et al (2017) Learning to infer the time of our actions and decisions from consequences. Consciousness and Cognition, 56
"When the unintended consequence of a decision is favorable, there is never an issue. The favorable outcome is considered a bonus. When the unintended consequence is adverse, depending on its impact, the decision-making process is questioned, as is the leader who made the decision. (emphasis added)
"In both of these cases (ignorance and error), leaders make decisions on issues without considering the unintended consequences, or before needed information is obtained. These are decisions that are not well thought out nor operationalized. (emphasis added)
"Immediacy of interest: where “someone wants the intended consequence of an action so much that he purposefully chooses to ignore any unintended effects,” to the peril of the decision maker and the organization. Hubris is one cause and is defined as excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance." (emphasis added)
"Consequences and Responsibilities"
Consider below the photos of Glendale FD patrol rig in Figure 27 (1556 - left) in Yarnell and unknown vehicle (1645 - right) on June 30, 2013, looking at respective increasingly aggressive fire behavior.
Figure 27. PDF JPEG images of June 30, 2013, 1556 (3:56 PM - left) in Yarnell from the Ranch House restaurant parking lot along Hwy. 89 and 1645 (4:45 PM - right) outside Yarnell near the Model Creek school area in Peeples Valley respectively, revealing WFs and FFs and their associated vehicles with increasing aggressive fire behavior and associated large smoke columns (plumes) in the background. The right photo reveals the GMHS burnover occurring in their deployment site. Source: PVFD
I question the intensity of the fire behavior observed in the Figure 27 (left) time of 1556 (3:56 PM). This detail may need to be examined further to determine if the camera setting was accurate and / or the metadata is accurate.
FIGURE 27 CORRECTION NOTICE: One of our contributing (non-local) authors incorrectly posted in our Washington, DC PowerPoint presentation captions that the direction the viewer is looking in the right photo is West. A Google Earth fact check revealed that the respective photographer, near the Model Creek school area in Peeples Valley, was actually facing in a Southeasterly direction. We apologize for any confusion or consternation this may have caused. Refer to Figure 27a Snippet below.
Figure 27a. Google Earth street-view image Snippet of approximately where the June 30, 2013, 1645 (4:45 PM) photograph was taken from next to the Model Creek school area outside Yarnell. The photo was taken from the vacant land next to the Model Creek school. The view is looking Southeasterly if you were standing where the photo was actually taken. Source: Google Earth
Therefore, the pair of photos in the Figure 27 AHFE PowerPoint presentation PDF JPEG image above reveals the Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) scene on June 30, 2013, at the Ranch House restaurant parking lot (left) in Yarnell, AZ along Hwy. 89 and in Peeples Valley (right) near the Model Creek school area outside Yarnell, respectively. These photos reveal numerous WFs, FFs, and likely citizens as well, and their associated vehicles witnessing increasingly aggressive fire behavior with associated large smoke columns (plumes) in the background. Based on the time, the right photo reveals the fire behavior as the Granite Mountain Hot Shots (GMHS) fatal burnover is occurring in their deployment site.
Emphathetically, in both of the photos below in Figures 28 and 29, you readers can only imagine what we (two eyewitness hikers) experienced along with these WFs, FFs, reporters, and others are experiencing, thinking about, talking about, discussing internally and with others while they frustratingly listen to and anguish over the Tactical and Air-to-Ground radio transmissions of the GMHS, obviously in deep trouble, and then wondering - yet wanting to deny what they know is occurring - what they know from experience the final outcome will be.
Figure 28. PDF JPEG images of June 30, 2013, 1645 (DSC01159.JPG - 4:45 PM - left) and 1648 (4:48 PM - right), respectively showing WFs and FFs and supervisors and their associated vehicles, in the Ranch House restaurant parking lot off Hwy. 89 in Yarnell, AZ with noticeably more aggressive fire behavior in the background (right). Both photos reveal fire behavior at the time that the GMHS burnover was occurring while in their deployment site. Source: PVFD (left) and Michelle Lee (right)
Figure 29. PDF JPEG image of June 30, 2013, 1712 (5:12 PM) from Ranch House restaurant along Hwy. 89 in Yarnell. Smoke columns (plumes) visible in the background with WFs and FFs likely discussing what to do next and what just occurred with the GMHS burnover in their Deployment Zone. Source: Tom Story
Figure 30. Wildland Fire (WLF) LLC "Honoring the Fallen" November 2014 video talking about the June 30, 2013, YH Fire Source: WLFLLC and YouTube
"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King." Erasmus of Rotterdam This saying basically means that someone with even the slightest bit of vision or wisdom or knowledge could guide those who are ignorant or blinded from the truth, (i.e. the WLF LLC).
"Not many of you should become teachers ... because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." James 3:1.
Honor The Fallen - Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) - October 2018
The Wildland Fire LLC in the website link above asks a rather serious thought provoking, and somewhat disturbing question, and then they answer it somewhat ambiguously and equivocally making it tough to relate to and understand (posted below). They then challenge us to question our long held beliefs. Of course, we provide our responses, sometimes agreeing in total, sometimes in part, and sometimes challenging their challenges to us. Foremost, this is our First Amendment right and it is squarely in line with the WLF LLC Mission Statement: "To promote learning in the wildland fire service by providing useful and relevant products and services that help to reveal the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment.".
"How exactly do we Honor the Fallen?" - "It's a tough question because it has a thousand answers. One of the most important ways to honor is to learn. We are always in danger of squandering the bitter opportunity that tragedy affords us." (emphasis added)
Absolutely, I agree that one of the most important ways to honor is to learn. However, what are we learning? Are we learning the truth about what happened and why? Or are we learning what the alleged "Progressive Thinkers" and detractors opposed to what works and those that want us to think that is solely and strictly within the confines of the SAIT-SAIR and nothing else?
The WLF LLC states: "This video is a glimpse of what many of us struggled with in the aftermath of the Yarnell Hill Fire. This is just a few fire folks walking the ground in January 2014 and grappling with how to advance our culture in the aftermath of devastation. ... Take a look, ... Making sense of bad outcomes is difficult, often impossible. ... But nobody wants the pain to be without benefit. ... Suffering without growth is tragic. ... Let's chose growth. ... One way to grow is to challenge long held beliefs." (emphasis added)
"One way to grow is to challenge long held beliefs. (emphasis added) This could be a true statement, however, the truer statement - from the alleged Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center - might be better interpreted and understood as utilizing those validated, tried-and-trued long held beliefs as "complete" lesson learned to be shared with other WFs, FFs, and those wanting to comprehend and understand.
"What are some of your long held beliefs? ... Are you willing to question them? ... Are you willing to consider a new perspective? ... And after all that, are you willing to actually alter your actions? ... Growth is difficult." (all emphasis added)
Apparently, this line of questioning is wholly based on the fact that these "few" WLF LLC "fire folks" strongly believe the SAIT-SAIR conclusion of "no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol" and that the entire YH Fire debacle and GMHS tragedy was an accident, just one of those things that happens, of whatever excuse they want to posit to square with the "no blame and no fault" way of thinking.
"What are some of your long held beliefs?" ... I believe in Almighty God and the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the strength and veracity of the tried-and-trued Rules of Engagement and the principles of Entrapment Avoidance. (e.g. Ten Standard Fire Orders, LCES, and the Watch Out Situations) There has never been a wildland fire mishap - by fire - when adhering to the Basic WF Rules.
"Are you willing to question them?" ... First off, why do I need to question them? They work and always have! I am NOT willing to question them. However, I am always more than willing to discuss them, defend them, and debate them if need be.
"Are you willing to consider a new perspective?" ... What is wrong with the "old" perspective that we need to question it? I am willing to consider a new perspective only if it enhances and /or improves upon the "old" perspective.
"And after all that, are you willing to actually alter your actions?" ... After all that, I am NOT willing to actually alter my actions, unless it enhances and /or improves upon the "old" perspective as stated above.
"Growth is difficult." Growth can be difficult, but not always, and it doesn't necessarily need to be.
These are the self-same individuals that, almost immediately after the YH Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) was in place and certainly after the SAIT Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR), that were part of the intensive movement by many of the YHF SAIT members, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and select U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel to discredit the tried-and-trued "10 & 18" as well as the and the Rules of Engagement and principles of Entrapment Avoidance discussed elsewhere by former USFS Fire Director Jerry Williams. USFS Jerry Williams FMT link ( https://www.fs.fed.us/sites/default/files/fire-management-today/62-4.pdf )These so-called, self-proclaimed experts believe that they are the only true guardians of what is to be discussed and believed of the tragic June 30, 2013, YH Fire wildland fire fatality truth and knowledge as published in the SAIT-SAIR. In other words, the "Party Line." They visited USFS Ranger Districts during their Critical Training sessions, Wildland Fire Training Academies, Wildland Fire Apprenticeship Academies, and many other forums to discredit the "Old School" ways as being ineffective "because 19 men died" - to focus only on the "official" and "factual" SAIT-SAIR for information and guidance.
The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WLF LLC) YouTube video above states disingenuously that "This video was captured on site of the Yarnell Hill Fire in January 2014. The participants spent the day walking the ground and discussing the challenges facing the wildland fire service as a whole." (emphasis added) On the contrary, these were views discussed among and by themselves and NOT the wildland fire service as a whole, as they boldly claimed. These "progressive thinkers" say they want to protect their "Brothers" by "honoring" them in the process. And yet it is clear that they want to hide or obscure the facts of what transpired and why on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire - while insisting that these wildland fires are "too complex" and that we cannot do this alone anymore, that it basically takes the whole fire community because "no one individual or unit" is capable of that any longer, worst of all, from the USFS Program Manager for the National Apprenticeship Program, that the Basic WF Rules, the "10 and 18" no longer work and that we should instead have "luck decision conversations."
"Although we need the Word to keep things known in the common, people still treat specialists as if their nonsense were a form of wisdom." Heraclitus’s Fragments: Ancient Wisdom for a Changing World ( https://fs.blog/2013/10/heraclitus-fragments/ )
Even from circa 500 BC, Heraclitus’s advice is still valid because dangerously and disconcertingly, it is the unwary and trusting-without-verifying WFs and FFs that will treat these WLF LLC "specialists as if their nonsense were a form of wisdom."
This seems like a good segue to address the causal human factors as to the why question so many of us struggle with; why the GMHS did what they did is covered in this book by German psychologist, researcher, and author Dietrich Dorner (The Logic of Failure - 1998). They were most familiar with and fell right in line with what he remarkably concludes as being habitual: “... the violations of safety rules were by no means ‘exceptions’ committed for the first time. They had all been committed before – if not in this precise sequence – without consequences. They had become established habit in an established routine. The operators did things this way because it was the way they had always done them before.” (emphasis added)
A link follows for an excellent collection of short statements from Dietrich Dörner's The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations. Obviously, it falls far short of a viable substitute for reading and studying his book. The data collected in the many participants' own words show how people fail in their thinking and what behaviors aided them in understanding “dynamic systems” and thinking effectively and proficiently. ( http://cjbibus.com/STCT_DornerquotationsWhole.htm )
Consider now a couple of recent WLF LLC posts titled: Has Nothing Changed? and What We Learned from the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths (November 2018) Has Nothing Changed? November 1, 2018 / wildfire lessons - By Wildland Fire LLC Travis Dotson
Pay particular attention to the insight of commenter "alex" who obviously speaks from experience, with some authority, with a fair amount of knowledge about the YH Fire debacle, the GMHS tragedy, working around / with some Hot Shot Crews, and the causal human factors that is counter to the SAIT-SAIR. Kudos to you "alex" and thank you for speaking your mind and sharing your thoughts.
"What We Learned from the Yarnell Hill Fire Deaths"
alex - November 2, 2018 at 10:05 am
"What we learned from Yarnell Hill. As an industry we learned that Arizona state OSHA and the Arizona Dept. of Forestry have very different interpretations of what needs changed and who might be to blame. We also learned that absolutely no one knows what actually happened. By now we have learned that people want to put a sticker on their hardhat, lament the tragedy and pretend like it never happened." (emphasis added)
On the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there that day that know exactly what actually happened ... and why.
And they "know exactly what actually happened" that day, and that include yourselves - those reading this post. You do know exactly what happened, you just don't exactly know why! “They were just firefighters. This is not what they were trained [to do]. Hotshots are never “just firefighters”. Hotshots are the elite of firefighting. They answer to no one below a division supervisor on the hill, they make decisions affecting the entire fire, they communicate with adjoining resources when they deem it necessary, they are completely independent of the fire to the point that they don’t even stay in camp with the 'just firefighters'. All of this culminates into a culture of machismo and elitism so strong that 19 people died and no one has any clue why they moved, where they were going or even what their intention was. How is it that we have hundreds of people operating on the line every day who have no accountability and are given such amazing leeway to make whatever decision they want without any outside input that 19 people died with the entire fire thinking that they were in a safety zone up to the moment they futilely tried to break through the radio chatter to try to get support." (emphasis added)
The guy is actually more on point than he realizes in many respects from the WFs and FFs that engage in wildland firefighting that I have talked to over the years since this tragedy occurred. And the "19 people died and no one has any clue why they moved, where they were going or even what their intention was" is classic GMHS pattern under the GMHS leadership.
"I know that if I took my crew out of a safety zone to march through decadent brush, without communicating with anyone, on a day when shifting, strong winds were expected. If I survived, I would be prosecuted." (emphasis added)
Prosecuted may be a bit much but chastised for sure. And more than likely you would not do that nor hopefully, have you done that.
"The fire culture of elitism allows crews to operate with no oversight and little accountability as long as the word “hotshot” is written across their vehicles." (emphasis added)
There is some truth to his claim about the fire culture of elitism allowing crews to operate with no oversight and little accountability as long as the word “hotshot” is written across their vehicles.
"This isn't about the inherent danger of the industry." (emphasis added)
Except for the Draconian punishment for foolishly marching through decadent brush without communication during strong winds, alex once again, is more on point than he realizes. It is a rather foolish and quite dangerous habit to hike through the unburned that fits right into the "Normalization of Deviance" and the "Bad Decisions With Good Outcomes" category worthy of some serious correction. And prosecuted for sure for being responsible for killing your men.
Whether alex or anyone else likes it or believes it or not, it really is "about the inherent danger of the industry" because wildland firefighting in general and Hot Shot Crews in particular, are key components of the wildland fire industry; so they are just gonna have to get over it and deal with it ... unless they want to be a part of changing it in order to reduce WF and FF wildfire fatalities.
alex - November 21, 2018 at 10:43 am "Please forgive me if this comes off as argumentative or insensitive. The impression that hotshot crews operate independent of instruction comes not only from decades of working next to them but also from the fact that 19 of them died and even now, no one has any idea what they were doing or why they left the safety of the black. Yes Eric Marsh was assigned as the Div. Sup. and this led to even less communication outside of that crew and no oversight whatsoever as the only overhead assigned to supervise that was part of the crew. Obviously the plan formulated by boots on the ground was bought (sic) into by the Div. Sup. because he was a crewmember and probably helped to create it. This is not independent? Who did he run that plan by that was his supervisor?" (emphasis added)
As stated above, on the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there that day that know exactly what they were doing. And a pretty good "idea why they left the safety of the black." And that includes yourselves - those reading this post. For one, no one held a literal gun to their heads and forced them to leave the black. They left of their own free will. Figuratively, they may have succumbed to the "perception is reality" fallacy so often bandied about and therefore, they may have felt emotionally compelled to obey an unsafe order.
Under stress, perception can have the force of reality. Make reality the reality."The point that I am trying to make is that while hotshots may be “problem solvers” or “the tip of the spear” ,they are still given more latitude than any other resource outside of smokejumpers. This is viewed as carte blanche to operate any way they feel. I have personally seen the results of this in having backburns lit under my crew by hotshot crews that no one knew were in the area, having aerial resources currently In (sic) use redirected by hotshots without any communication whatsoever, having hotshot supervisors give direction to my crewmembers without any recognition of chain of command and literally countless times that my crew has had to work adjacent to them only to have them pretend like we didn’t exist and I receive nothing but condescension, disdain and impatience from the supervisor when I make an attempt to communicate with adjoining resources (talk to the hotshots). Nothing has changed in regards to this behavior. I received that exact condescension, and disdain this season even." (emphasis added)
Once again, Mr. alex is actually more on point than he realizes in many respects from the WFs and FFs that engage in wildland firefighting that I have talked to over the years concerning his views on HS Crews, albeit somewhat jaded or maybe just experienced.
"Nowhere is this more obvious than the example of Yarnell. 19 people died, no one has any idea what they were doing or where they were going. There was no attempt to inform anyone of their movements or their intentions. No one seems to find that strange. It’s just part of how hotshots operate.. Where I work, operating adjacent to a hotshot crew is the 19th watchout situation." (emphasis added)
On the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there that day that do, in fact, have many ideas what they were doing and where they were going. And their Watch Out #19 is Death From Above includes overhead because after all, they are known to make bad decisions from time to time, (i.e. Holloway Fire 2012).
"There was no attempt to inform anyone of their movements or their intentions" is very accurate because that is the way the GMHS were known to do things. The same applies to the WFs and FFs performing the likely Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area firing operation." (emphasis added)
There were many Structure / Municipal FFs, often referred to as "Hybrids," on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire that performed quite well. And there were others not so much. These "others" may have been the ones involved with the likely firing operation. And the fact that alex use the colloquial term "backburn" reveals to me that he (or she) is possibly a "Hybrid" FF and not a "real" WF. As stated above, on the contrary, there are plenty of WFs and FFs and Supervisors that were there on the YH Fire that fateful that day that knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going; and none of them were entrapped, deployed fire shelters, or died.
Figure 31. WLFLLC "Honoring the Fallen" video. Pockets of progressive thinkers” Fireline Leadership program, Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WLFLLC), USFS Washington Office (WO), USFS Apprenticeship Program talking about the Yarnell Hill Fire and deriding the Basic WF Rules, i.e."10 & 18" (4:05 to 5:57) Source: Wildland Fire LLC
"The truth is … we … put it into these little boxes … these rules and the 10 & 18 that cannot, … they're not gonna keep us safe, that's been proven time and time again, … whatever they are, … cannot follow our own rules … this environment way too complex … need to have luck decision conversations … it was good ... until it wasn't ...” Heath Cota (USFS - Director Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program - S&P-WO, Fire & Aviation Management) courtesy of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) - Honor the Fallen - YH Fire site visit in January 2014 - YouTube video published October 23, 2018. (emphasis added)
Are you kidding me? This is coming from the National Director of the USFS Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program [WFAP] - S&P-WO, Fire & Aviation Management ... the ones that train our up-and-coming new USFS career-based employees, the future of the wildland fire culture! From their own website we learn the following:
"Vision To develop and enhance today’s wildland firefighters with the skills, knowledge and abilities to perform as tomorrow’s competent and effective leaders. Operational Mission - Delivering innovative and fundamental training for the development of wildland firefighters, utilizing a highly skilled and motivated team. The Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program is registered as a part of the National Apprenticeship Program in accordance with the Department of Labor, designed to enhance and develop future Fire and Aviation Managers. The intent of the Program is to take career entry firefighters and provide a hybrid of education, training and paid work experience of 3,000 hours. The WFAP delivers innovative and fundamental training for the development of wildland firefighters. ...This is a great program if you’re interested in making wildland firefighting a career!" (emphasis added)
More than you ever wanted to know about the National Wildfire Apprenticeship Program (WFAP) and how it's training up and enlightening the Nation's new WFs ( https://www.nafri.gov/wfap/manager.php )
Check out page 24 for the training electives - Human Performance, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Fire and Aviation Management Operations. Electives are optional courses, yet tend to be more specialized, so discretionary for each student. According to the majority of educational literature, electives (1) allow you to explore other subjects and areas of study; (2) may give you a new perspective on your degree and your future career path; (3) may make you more attractive to potential employers; (4) may expand your educational horizons, giving you insight into other categories or increasing your overall thinking and learning skills; (5) and lastly, may help you to build strong core values that will help you in achieving your desired degree and being successful in your field. (emphasis added)
The USFS appears to have its own subtly covert agenda when it comes "to enhance and develop future Fire and Aviation Managers" regarding wildland fire fatalities and mishaps, and the (in)complete lessons to be garnered and the potentially meaningful lessons to be learned from. Unfortunately, history has revealed that they squander those choice opportunities to share the truths about what happened and why, again and again.
Below are several of the course offerings and some detail with my comments in green:
Lessons Learned - This course will focus on lessons learned from the previous fire season as well as other historic incidents to ensure that students are learning from the past and applying these lessons throughout their career. (N-9053 Learning From Unintended Outcomes), 40 hours - Formal staff rides, maximum of 20 hours (emphasis added)
I find it ironic that they spend 40 hours on the Learning From Unintended Outcomes training course and "a maximum of 20 hours" on "Formal Staff Rides." So the take away here is more time on how to "investigate" (or not) or perform no blame, no fault "Learning Reviews" instead of more realistic on site Formal Staff Rides. In other words, spending twice the amount of time on investigating or not finding blame or fault and half the time on valuable Formal Staff Rides. However, it may be that the final outcome may be the same because the SAITs and /or FLAs, RLAs, Learning Reviews, etc. are false because they are based on first establishing a "conclusion" and then finding the "facts" to fit the pre-established conclusion. And the Staff Rides are then based on these false, preconceived conclusions, so the false narrative continues without any "complete lessons learned" as pointed out by Dr. Ted Putnam and Dianne Vaughan, the Columbia and Challenger researcher and author.
"N-9053 Learning From Unintended Outcomes - The Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) and Coordinated Response Protocol (CRP) are group learning approaches to review a broad spectrum of unintended outcomes or close calls ranging from fatalities and escaped fires to vehicle accidents. Through lectures, case studies, and interaction between participants and faculty, the course will: Illustrate concepts, technologies and methods to actively engage the FLA and CRP processes. Examine case studies that describe a paradigm shift from blame to learning in the wake of an accident.(emphasis added)
"Demonstrate the use of storytelling to exploit accidents and other unintended outcomes as learning events. ... Underline the concept of sense-making to enable FLA and CRP team members to overcome hindsight bias. ... Move organizations towards a learning culture. ... Prepare participants to serve as FLA and CRP team members. ... Personnel interested and available to participate on review teams analyzing all types of accidents and near-misses. ... The Workshop participation is not limited to Fire and Aviation Management employees. ... Nationally recognized subject matter experts serve as instructors in this course. (emphasis added)
The above paragraph is rife with statements worth commenting on and critiquing. Obviously, the use of storytelling is a worthwhile goal, if and only if, the goal is to tell the truth about what happened and why. And to want to "exploit accidents and other unintended outcomes as learning events" has kind of a negative connotation using the word "exploit." The "concept of sense-making" is definitely a worthwhile goal "to overcome hindsight bias" as well as "mov[ing] organizations towards a learning culture." However, I feel that it is dangerous to "Prepare participants to serve as FLA and CRP team members. ... Personnel interested and available to participate on review teams analyzing all types of accidents and near-misses. ... The fact that there are nationally recognized experts [that] serve as instructors in this course" is questionably valuable considering that they likely have a wealth of experience and knowledge, however, these Steering Committee members are, for the most part, former "Investigators" on previous SAITs, FLAs, RLAs, and Learning Reviews that concluded everything but "factual" information toward what we need - "complete lessons learned."
"Prerequisites: None, However preference will be given to individuals with experience in risk management, safety management and accident investigations. Staff Ride, Rattlesnake Fire / Lessons Learned - Much of the knowledge gained about wildland fire has come through the high cost of firefighter lives. Lessons learned from the Rattlesnake Fire played a large role in the decision to form the first national level task force to examine wildland firefighter safety in 1957. Other staff rides may be used depending on academy location. (emphasis added)
"Risk Safety - Various speakers will discuss and present information about risk in wildland fire and provide opportunities to learn from their personal experiences." (emphasis added)
So basically, my takeaway on the whole USFS Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program [WFAP] that is responsible for training our up-and-coming new USFS career-based employees, the future of the wildland fire culture - is a guaranteed means to avoid telling the truth by regurgitating the Facilitated Learning Analysis (FLA) and Coordinated Response Protocol (CRaP) with their N-9053 Learning From Unintended Outcomes course, taught by many of the same players covering stuff up. Note the difference in hours here: 40 hours for the FLA and CRaP courses, and yet, Formal staff rides, where the most true learning would take place, are only allowed a maximum of 20 hours. In other words, focusing on the process to promote the lies and deceptions holds more weight than sharing the truths in case studies and actual events though Staff Rides.
And then you have this gem wasting our precious tax dollars on this: WFSTAR: Fire Orders NWCG - National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) with this paid patsy likely having no clue of what WFs and FFs do for a living in the inherently dangerous environment they work in. Worst of all, it is endorsed by the NWCG and very likely one of the many desperate attempts - several years later - to respond to the June 30, 2013, YH Fire debacle and GMHS tragedy. WFSTAR: Fire Orders ( https://youtu.be/bWiuTey03Yc ) Published on Apr 10, 2018.
And here is another link to a National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) endorsed You Tube video on the "10 and 18." ( https://youtu.be/_-9LKkSDVzE )
Be sure and watch this despicably nauseating video on the Ten Standard Fire Orders endorsed by National Wildfire Coordinating Group and NIFC. Based on the published date, I feel that this is very likely a response by NWCG after the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS fatalities and therefore, part of the concerted effort to provide some type of feckless answer - several years later - to those preventable tragedies. Time stood still when the Devil ..... is mentioned in the video below.
Yarnell Hill - ( https://youtu.be/eUXp9mTh7P0 ) Matty O - Published on Aug 18, 2019.
" ... as time stood still when the Devil came to Yarnell Hill ... so these heroes that met their fate courageous to the end ... " I'm quite sure this guy means well and is closer than he realizes on his "time stood still when the Devil came to Yarnell Hill" verbiage. The "time stood still" notion is addressed concerning the dreaded "Lunch Spot" scenario that has now occurred on four known wildland fatality fires (e.g. Rattlesnake, South Canyon, Thirty Mile, and Yarnell Hill Fires) in a 2018 AHFE paper titled: "It Could Not Be Seen Because It Could Not Be Believed on June 30, 2013" (Fred J. Schoeffler and Lance Honda) quoted below.
"2.2 Consequences of Inattention - Fatality Fires and ‘Lunch Spot’ Nexus Theory. Additionally, the multi-fatality South Canyon (1994), 30-Mile (2001), and YH (2013) Fires shared a common element when disengaged to a designated Lunch Spot. In this setting, due to numerous physiological and psychological circumstances, (e.g., fatigue, stress, dehydration, alcohol-related impairment (hangovers), distractions, interruptions, etc.) - time essentially stood still.
"In each of these above noted tragic wildfires, when the WFs re-engaged, they were evidently unmindful of basic wildland firefighting training and fire behavior markers which favored staying put. They were so engrossed with “discussing their options” of staying put or re-engaging, they ceased observing more pressing tasks, like the rapidly changing weather. They let go of strategic management for less serious, less vital events, known as strategic omission." (all emphasis added)
"Credible research on attention found when someone is otherwise engaged, at times they fail to “see” otherwise noticeable, fully visible, - yet unexpected objects or events, (i.e. ‘inattentional blindness’ [IB]). A likely severe result is that it can sometimes lead one to miss items that one wanted or, more importantly, needed to experience. If one’s attention is set for a certain number of primary task items and the offered items meet their expectation, the individual may be more likely to exhibit IB for an unforeseen and yet likely critical visual event. IB was driven more by situational and task factors, … than by individual-differences variable. This may help explain some of why the GMHS and others faced and then reacted to this obscure perilous occurrence." (Schoeffler and Honda - AHFE - 2018) (all italics emphasis original - all other emphasis added with citations omitted).
Figure 32. PDF JPEG image of Former Yarnell Hill Fire Chief Peter Andersen (RiP) Interview Oct. 8, 2013 describing the AZ Forestry Division's response to the Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013. Source: YouTube and John Dougherty
Figure 32a. Former Yarnell Hill Fire Chief Peter Andersen (RiP) Interview Oct. 8, 2013 describing the AZ Forestry Division's response to the Yarnell Hill Fire that killed 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30, 2013. Source: John Dougherty and YouTube
This is an interview from an experienced - locally knowledgeable (Watch Out #4) - politically incorrect Fire Chief confidently and honestly speaking his mind about that day and the feckless SAIT and SAIR; even validating the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation.
Figure 33. PDF JPEG image of Yarnell Fuel Treatment Source: Local FD Records Request. Collura
This document falsely claims: "Reports indicate that this work helped slow the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire when it crossed Hwy 89 from the north on June 30th." On the contrary, the WFs and FFs that were involved in the likely Sesame Street and Shrine Fuel / Fire Break Corridor area firing operation used it as their control line and actually fired off from it. And therefore, it was their likely burnout and / or backfire that burned across Hwy. 89 from the North into Yarnell and not the fire - naturally. There is a firefighter (unsure if WF or FF) that told me that it never jumped the highway and it was their Crew that lit it. There is also some conflicting testimony from others that said it may have jumped the highway from flying embers. So then, which one is it? Obviously, this needs further looking into.
Figure 34. PDF JPEG image of Inattentional Blindness (IB) discussion when one fails to “see” otherwise noticeable, fully visible, yet unexpected objects or events, i.e. “Friendly Fire” from the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area firing operation taking place below them. Source: Schoeffler, Honda, Collura
Credible research by Daniel J. Simmons (Univ. of Illinois Visual Cognition Lab) on (in)attention, referred to as Inattentional Blindness (IB), indicates that "when someone is otherwise engaged - at times - they fail to 'see' otherwise noticeable, fully visible, yet unexpected objects or events." In this exceptional YH Fire GMHS case, it was the increasing fire behavior “Friendly Fire” that was occurring in the likely Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area firing operation taking place below them. "IB leads one to miss items what one needed to experience, if an event meets their expectation(s). We are also likely to experience IB for a sudden, possible critical visual event." (emphasis added)
Consider now some of the broader Implications of Inattentional Blindness found by researchers.
“Evidence for inattentional blindness comes mostly from relatively simple laboratory tasks, but the phenomenon likely has many daily analogues. For example, automobile accident reports frequently report driver claims that they “looked but failed to see” the other vehicle. Many collisions between cars and motorcycles involve cars turning in front of an incoming motorcycle, with the car driver not seeing the motorcyclist. … Critically, the difficulty of the primary task in an inattentional blindness task increases the probability that people will miss the unexpected object. In practical terms, the more people focus on aspects of their visual world other than the detection of unexpected objects, the less likely they are to detect such objects. Recent evidence suggests that talking on a cell phone, for example, dramatically increases the probability of missing an unexpected object (Scholl et al, 2003).
"Although inattentional blindness constitutes a limit of the visual system, it also illustrates a critical aspect of visual processing. Specifically, it reveals the role of selective attention in perception. Inattentional blindness represents a consequence of this critical process that allows us to remain focused on important aspects of our world without distraction from irrelevant objects and events. Only when those unselected aspects of our world are both unexpected and important does inattentional blindness have practical consequences. ...
"[Researchers] Scholl et al, 2003, concluded that in daily life attention is constantly spread ... across several modalities, tasks, and objects, and it is unclear how attention operates in such realistic situations. Here we report a striking effect of sustained inattentional blindness (SIB) induced by one particularly relevant attention-demanding task: talking on a cellular telephone. Much research has shown that talking on a cellphone will slow responses, increase performance errors, and degrade detailed visual memory. But while some traffic accidents are no doubt caused by such factors, many have a different cause: Why did I hit the other car? Because I didn't *see* it! ... The massive jumps in SIB caused by the cellphone conversations and other cognitively engaging controls suggests a sobering conclusion: that visual *awareness* is particularly impaired by cellphone conversations, above and beyond any smaller effects on visual performance. (all emphasis added)
Scholl, B. J., Noles, N. S., Pasheva, V., Sussman, R.(2003). Talking on a cellular telephone dramatically increases ‘sustained inattentional blindness’ [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 3( 9): 156, 156a
Based on documented (albeit altered) evidence, the GMHS and DIVS A were certainly involved in ongoing radio and cell phone conversations, as well as one-on-one and / or small group conversations during the June 30, 2013, operational period on the YH Fire in Division A. Therefore, it is a permissible inference that these ongoing radio, cell phone, and likely face-to-face conversations likely adversely influenced their individual and collective ability to cognitively process what they were "seeing." These indicators included the deteriorating fire weather and exponentially increasing fire behavior while failing to "see" that matters were tactically unsafe and unsound for them to vacate their Safety Zone and travel through heavy unburned chaparral through chimneys and chutes down into a deadly bowl; all counter to everything that they had been trained to avoid and to heed in favor of sound tactics.
Figure 35. The YH Fire - 2013 - SAIT-SAIR "Figure 19" helps to clarify the fire activity ( https://youtu.be/Jl1l8EyDric ) (WTKTT) in Figure 33. above. Source: Matt Oss, SAIT-SAIR, YouTube, WTKTT
This crossfade video reveals the fire behavior and resource locations (from metadata) from both the Yarnell side as wll as the Congress side.
Figure 36. PDF JPEG image of questioning of "Securing the scene?" of the GMHS Deployment / Fatality Site documented News Station video evidence of the total lack of scene security and the PFD and others' PACT that they made and NOT to ever talk about what happened that night. The news video later disappeared and a News article changed the word PACT to the phrase "nightlong vigil for the Yarnell 19 is something the firefighters have kept to themselves." Source: AZ Family.com, Internet Archive Wayback Machine
It is fairly common knowledge among the several Law Enforcement officers that were tasked that June 30 to July 1, 2013, night to specifically "secure the scene" as they would on any crime scene. However, what actually took place was drastically different than anything they had ever experienced before. They witnessed as many 'as thirty (30) WFs and FFs wandering through the [GMHS fatality] site gathering souvenirs.'
Bear in mind, that this was basically a crime scene" and was to be handled accordingly. However, these well-meaning WFs and FFs inadvertently or intentionally bungled the scene disrupting and / or destroying evidence (e.g. bodies, equipment, etc.) that the alleged "Investigators" never saw. The Yavapai County Sheriffs Office (YCSO) FARO 3-D imaging records, revealing detailed evidence was foreclosed from disclosure by a court injunction at the behest of the GMHS families.
A retired law enforcement officer made statements to me and Sonny in 2013-2014 that he received a letter "from a judge" (basically a gag order) that told him he best be quiet or his three years left to retirement could be lost. So then, he had few choices, most of which guaranteed he would lose all those years. A man that is a former officer is not one to fabricate a story like that. But that is the abuse dished out by that system of wildland fire fighting commanders. (emphasis added)
Once again, "somebody" got involved and removed a documented News Station video evidence of the total lack of scene security and the PFD and others' PACT that they made and NOT to ever talk about what happened that night. The news video later disappeared and a News article changed the word PACT to the phrase "nightlong vigil for the Yarnell 19 is something the firefighters have kept to themselves."
Below is the cut-and-pasted article from the link below through the "Internet Archive Wayback Machine" because it has been otherwise removed from circulation as are so many of the informative YH Fire records. The Wayback Machine link is just below, so just cut-and-paste the AZ Family.com article link into the appropriate "browse history" block and go forth on your search and recovery. ( https://archive.org/web/ ) A very cool tool indeed!
Firefighter who was at Yarnell Hill recalls tragedy, aftermath
Posted on June 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM – by Fields Moseley
Bio | Email | Follow: @fieldsmoseley
At +2:40 in the VIDEO interview with Prescott Battalion Chief Cory Moser.. the reporter says this…
Moser says that, ya know, there are some parts of that night that are being kept ‘sacred’. He said that the firefighters up there… they kinda decided to kinda keep a PACT about.. uh. what had HAPPENED… and what they had seen up there… and just kinda keep that between them.
"Firefighter who was at Yarnell Hill recalls tragedy, aftermath by Fields Moseley Bio | Email | Follow: @fieldsmoseleyazfamily.com Posted on June 30, 2014 at 12:48 PM Updated Monday, Jun 30 at 12:48 PM Related: A year later, Yarnell continues putting a community back together PRESCOTT, Ariz. -- When the thunderstorm collapsed over Yarnell, Prescott Battalion Chief Cory Moser was there, not far from the Granite Mountain Hotshots." (emphasis added)
"Fifteen years of firefighting and I've never seen [fire?] behavior like that," Moser said of the fire. Moser lost four buildings he was defending, but then got the news that it was so much worse than anyone had ever imagined. "We knew all these people personally and knew what deploying means," he said. Moser was talking about the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who were forced to use their cocoon-like shelters designed to keep them alive if trapped by fire. He said they had confirmation within 30 minutes and the men didn't survive. "The No. 1 overriding thought is we got to get these guys back home," Moser said. (emphasis added)
"Everything was secondary to being with their fallen brothers. Moser said 20 to 30 people, who all knew these men, gathered on that hill in Yarnell together, yet isolated from the world where the news was spreading. (emphasis added)
"'We all kept vigil out there all night long,' he said. 'It was a long night. I don't think you would find anyone that was sleepy. We were all pretty wide awake.' (emphasis added)
"... They covered the bodies with American flags and got trucks ready to move them. 'As dawn broke, some of the investigation took place and then we were ready to go ahead and move the guys,' Moser recalled. ...'" (emphasis added)
Moser said he clings to moments like that. They get him through the bad times. "Everybody worked together so well," he said. Moser admitted he's not fully healed from what happened that day, but says his pain cannot compare to that of the families. (emphasis added)
"The more that we help the families and the more we deal with the people closest to the guys that died, The more we have perspective and realize what our role truly is in our situation." (emphasis added)
"Moser said parts of what he and his men saw, said and did during their nightlong vigil for the Yarnell 19 is something the firefighters have kept to themselves." (emphasis added)
The article states: "They covered the bodies with American flags ... As dawn broke, some of the investigation took place and then we were ready to go ahead and move the guys ..." Did they cover the bodies with American flags before or after they moved anything including their bodies and equipment? As dawn broke, how much of the investigation took place before they were ready to go ahead and move the guys?
Reminder that you will likely need to utilize the Archive Wayback machine to access some of these links below.
( http://www.investigativemedia.com/yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-xii/#comment-263339 ) ( http://www.azfamily.com/news/wildfires/Ariz-fire-crew-that-lost-19-worked-front-lines-213843991.html ) ( http://www.azfamily.com/news/wildfires/Firefighter-on-the-line-recalls-tragedy-265221861.htm )
You will likely have to cut and paste the links to access the information.
Firefighter who was at Yarnell Hill recalls tragedy, aftermath
by Fields Moseley
Bio | Email | Follow: @fieldsmoseley
( https://web.archive.org/web/20140911090911/http://www.azfamily.com/news/wildfires/Firefighter-on-the-line-recalls-tragedy-265221861.html ) This link should work but you may need to utilize the Archive WayBack machine
Feb 23, 2015 InvestigativeMEDIA link WTKTT to Bob Powers re: Cory Moser
And the following video is quite interesting with the comments the PFD Captain makes:
Team of 12 had sacred task of recovering bodies of fallen hotshots ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXYc0f_MIlQ&feature=youtu.be )
At around 2:30+ the PFD Fire Captain says: "... they would do it all over again ... I'm telling you right now they wouldn't change a thing ..." (emphasis added)
I think about these young men everyday. This PFD Fire Captain said “They’re all heroes. And they did what they loved doing and they’d do it all over again I’m telling you they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, I’m telling you right now they wouldn’t change a thing.” Are you kidding me? This is the definition of insanity - "they’d do it all over again I’m telling you they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat, I’m telling you right now they wouldn’t change a thing." Was that the Prescott Way?
Or how about this October 14, 2013, PFD email gem below? Was this another version of the Prescott Way? This email thread between PFD Wildland Battalion Chief Willis and ADOSH Krotenberg and Steurer regarding GMHS MacKenzie's (RiP) FFT1 Task Book and certification. NOTE: the less-than-clever attempt at redaction in the "To:" line and then addressing the email with their first names. The subject discussed is GMHS MacKenzie's (RiP) Task Book that was mysteriously ? coincidentally ? deceptively ? completed on ("6/25/13") June 25, 2013, just five days prior to the June 30, 2013, GMHS tragedy! And Mr. Willis states that he has "elected not to sign it for integrity purposes, because it was found with the crew briefcase after the tragedy." (emphasis added)
Figure 36a. October 14, 2013, email from PFD BC Willis to ADOSH Steurer and Krotenberg regarding GMHS MacKenzie (RiP) Task Book. Source: Collura Public Records Request
Consider now the somewhat boring, and yet, highly controversial and controlling and informative procedural evidence that allows the Federal Agencies to restrict what their employees are allowed to say or do in these instances.
Figure 37. PDF JPEG image of how the Government controls its employees and records utilizing the cryptic and archaic Touhy Regulation Principle, sometimes referred to as the Touhy "Privilege" when the Agency is not a party to the lawsuit, and the archaic Federal Housekeeping statute. Source: US Supreme Court and Cornell Law School
Figure 37a. Email (Sept. 13, 2013) from USDI Office of Solicitor Alexandra Viscusi to ADOSH Christopher O. Anderson regarding "Yarnell Hill Fire Touhy request" to interview BLM employees Lenamrk and Warbis. Source: Collura AZ State Forestry Records Request
The USDI BLM employees were eventually allowed to be interviewed under Touhy but the USDA USFS employees were not. Refer to the "Why was it that the SAIT and ADOSH investigators were able to interview BLM employees but unable to interview U.S. Forest Service employees to obtain critical Yarnell Hill Fire Human Factors information?" link below.
Memorandum of Law Regarding Subpoenas for Testimony or Records from an Employee of the Department of Agriculture ( https://www.rd.usda.gov/files/PA_PN_293_SubpoenaMemo.pdf )
This USDA edict contained within this letter applies to all of the Leviathan USDA, USFS employees even though this is a USDA Rural Development memo. The USDA USFS employees on the YH Fire were at least the BRHS, several of the Air Operations personnel, such as Tom French, John Burfiend, and all misc. WF Supervisors or others in various Overhead positions.
'The restrictions on testimony by employees of USDA, for the issuance of subpoena regulations and on the production by such employees of official records in their custody based is on the primary case authority of United States ex. rel. Touhy v. Ragen, 340 U.S. 462, 95 L. Ed. 417 (1951). In Touhy, the United States Supreme Court held that an agency has the authority to restrict, by regulations, the testimony of its employees, and that a Federal employee may not be compelled to obey a subpoena contrary to supervisor's instructions issued pursuant to valid agency regulations.'
The following USDA Memorandum of Law letter excerpt is particularly harsh: "In any case in which an employee of the Department of Agriculture is denied authority by the head of the employing agency to appear in response to a subpoena, the employee is prohibited, under penalty of disciplinary action, from testifying or producing records. See § 1.218 of the regulations." (emphasis added)
In other words, NO USDA USFS employees were ever allowed to be interviewed or questioned by the SAIT or the ADOSH Investigators due to these regulations. And many otherwise "Public Records" were ever provided to the SAIT or the ADOSH Investigators as well. However, BLM employees were allowed to be interviewed, such as DIVS Z Rance Marquez, Dan Philbin (DIVS), Paul Lenmark (Air Attack - AA), and Rusty Warbis (AA).
As noted in the USDA letter "A particularly thorough discussion of these principles, dealing with cases in which the United States is not a party, is found in Exxon Shipping v. Dept. of Interior, 34 F.3d 774; Boron Oil Co. v. Downie, 873 F.2d 67 (4th Cir. 1989)" and the link for this case is here. (emphasis added)
What follows in the next three paragraphs is a noteworthy Federal Lawyer (March 2013) article titled "Sixty Years of Touhy" that further brings both Touhy and the Federal Housekeeping Statute into view and clarification as key to why they were not allowed by the USFS to be interviewed by with investigation team.
( http://www.fedbar.org/Resources_1/Federal-Lawyer-Magazine/2013/March/Features/Sixty-Years-of-iTouhyi.aspx?FT=.pdf )
"This article explores 60 years of Touhy by first describing the legal background that led to Touhy. In the second section it relates the essentials of Touhy and its practical effects in subsequent administrative regulations and lawsuits. The third section describes the 1958 congressional legislative response to Touhy, and the very limited results of that legislation. The fourth section outlines how the majority of federal courts have looked to the U.S. Code for jurisdictional and statutory guidance on the boundaries of the “housekeeping privilege,” which is based entirely on legislative acts dating back to 1789. The fifth section describes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and District of Columbia (D.C.) Circuits decisions and a few academic articles which have assumed that federal judges must have the power to finally determine all questions of privilege, and have therefore insisted on judicial means for enforcement of subpoenas, despite Touhy. (emphasis added)
"The concluding section argues the point that judges are not endowed by the U.S. Constitution or the U.S. Code with the authority to independently and finally determine all questions of privilege, regardless of circumstances. At present, the U.S. Code empowers the heads of federal agencies to make initial determinations regarding the release of agency records and subjects those determinations to judicial review under circumstances and standards defined by the same code. (emphasis added)
"Unless the determinations of privilege violate a statutory or constitutional standard, federal judges do not have inherent authority to overrule lawful executive branch or congressional determinations of privilege. Section VI argues that generalized notions of judicial supremacy should not be substituted for express statutory authority to determine privilege." (emphasis added)
These Touhy and Federal Housekeeping subjects are addressed in depth in the above paper as well in the recent June 19, 2019, YHF Revelations post (below) titled: "Why was it that the SAIT and ADOSH investigators were able to interview BLM employees but unable to interview U.S. Forest Service employees to obtain critical Yarnell Hill Fire Human Factors information?" ( https://www.yarnellhillfirerevelations.com/single-post/2019/06/13/Why-was-it-that-the-SAIT-and-ADOSH-investigators-were-able-to-interview-BLM-employees-but-unable-to-interview-US-Forest-Service-employees-to-obtain-critical-Yarnell-Hill-Fire-Human-Factors-information )
Consider now a brief (three images) discussion and exposure of the disparate treatment provided by the USFS regarding the Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) study Public Records records on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire.
Figure 38. PDF JPEG image of a brief history (right) of the Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) study records on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire, including a retired Hot Shot Supt. FOIA Requests for the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE records contained within a 3-ring binder. Involved Agency colleagues turned Quisling and betrayed him by lying in his subsequent coached and coerced Declaration (below). A June 16, 2016, USFS Southwestern Region letter (left) to Joy A. Collura regarding her detailed April 2015 FOIA Request for the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE records specifically contained within a "3-ring binder" Source: Joy A. Collura FOIA Request (2016-FS-R3-04243-F)
The left USFS document image is a PDF JPEG image of my USFS FOIA Request for the AFUE records, including reference to a 3-ring binder. A brief history (right text) of the Aerial Firefighting Utilization and Effectiveness (AFUE) study records on the June 30, 2013, YH Fire, is in order in more detail here as follows: (1) On July 1, 2013, an AFUE Team Leader gave a 'hard drive' of the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE recordings to a 'SAIT team member;' (2) how the USFS then admitted to ABC News Investigative Reporter James Meeks, learned of an AFUE Study Group in Yarnell on June 30, 2013, ‘recording data’ and filed numerous FOIA Requests; (3) the Collura AFUE FOIA Request was partially fulfilled with some key revealing records having probative value; (4) while other FOIA Requesters were denied and told there were "no records responsive to your request;" (5) I filed a USFS (April 2015) FOIA Request for the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE records specifically requesting those contained within a "3-ring binder;" and (6) a former USFS Hot Shot Supt. also filed an AFUE FOIA Request (YH Fire) based on a fellow USFS Hot Shot Supt. colleague telling him that he possessed the 'AFUE record transcripts in a 3-ring binder.'
The first former USFS Hot Shot Supt. eventually filed a Federal lawsuit in the link that immediately follows ( http://foiaproject.org/case_detail/?title=on&style=foia&case_id=30561 ) for the USFS failure to release the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE records. The second former USFS Hot Shot Supt. that initially had the 3-ring binder transcripts, repeatedly verbally assured the lawsuit attorneys that he was willing to testify in court if needed to get the truth out; and he did so in a verbal Declaration on the AFUE 3-ring binder issue. Eventually, the USFS pressured him enough to submit a written Declaration for the USFS, countering his previous verbal Declaration (see below in Figure 38 b. ). By this time, he had then clearly folded on his earlier AFUE stance. Therefore, the alleged Hot Shot "Brother" turned Quisling, betraying him. See the following link for the genesis of the term Quisling. ( https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vidkun-Abraham-Lauritz-Jonsson-Quisling )
Consider now the progression of USFS Hot Shot Supt. Whitney's willing to waffling stance on the YH Fire AFUE 3-ring binder Public Record containing crucial transcripts of recorded documentation concerning the GMHS and DIVS A Marsh. It all begins with a Paralegal's memo dated December 8, 2016, regarding Whitney's positive approach to revealing these important Public records, to an undated and unsigned draft affidavit with similar intentions, to him ultimately succumbing to Agency coersion and presuure, ultimately changing his stance, utilizing his illogical written gymnastics in this now sudden declaration in September 2017, while on a fire assignment in Northern California, as noted in Figures 38a. to 38c.
Figure 38a. Dean Whitney memo by Udall-Shumway paralegal dated December 8, 2016, indicated Whitney's "immediately began collecting" YH Fire documenttion; because "things [tragedy documents] tend to disappear;" the importance of this particular record (i.e. DIVS A Marsh's insistence on Air Support every five minutes, and this record "was the missing piece in everybody's timeline.") Source: Udall-Shumway, Schoeffler
Figure 38b. DRAFT USFS Dean Whitney Affidavit (unsigned) based on Whitney's verbal declaration of good intentions to move forward on his willingness to testify in open court and to be subpoenaed for a deposition regarding Schoeffler's USFS AFUE FOIA lawsuit. Source: Udall-Shumway Gardner, Schoeffler
Schoeffler contends that the Hot Shot "Brother" Whitney turned Quisling by retracting and lying on his revised, pressured Declaration. He was then dutifully "rewarded" with a promotion to a managerial position in Fire Management and transferred to the USFS Northern Region, a long-established maneuver by the USFS to show their gratitude for a job well-done, (i.e. lying in his coerced revised, written declaration). I had filed a similar AFUE FOIA Request in April 2015, specifically asking for a "3-ring binder' of the YH Fire, June 30, 2013, AFUE records.
Figure 38c. USFS Dean Whitney coached and coerced Declaration (filed Sept. 21, 2017) based on Whitney's previous verbal declaration of good intentions to testify in open court and subpoenaed for a deposition regarding Schoeffler's USFS AFUE FOIA lawsuit (Schoeffler vs. USDA CIV-17-00055-PHX-GMS; DOC 31-1; Defendent's Exhibit; pages 9 and 10 of 22 pages). Whitney Declaration was signed on September 20, 2017, in Ft. Jones, CA while on a fire assignment and filed with US Dept. of Justice Attorney's Office on Sept. 21, 2017. Source: USDOJ USA, Udall-Shumway Gardner, Schoeffler
The former USFS Hot Shot Supt. Schoeffler's original USFS AFUE FOIA lawsuit for the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE records (January 6, 2017) is included and referenced below in the Courthouse News links here:
( https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Yarnell.pdf ) and ( https://www.courthousenews.com/firefighter-demands-info-on-yarnell-hill-fire-disaster/ )
The YH Fire AFUE transcripts contained within the requested 3-ring binder are crucial because they provide significant clues to the GMHS hike from their Safety Zone down into the Deployment Zone as the fire progressed. The GMHS were hiking downhill (from above) within a deadly bowl, from their descent point (Part 1 of 5 - Figure 25 - below) into aggressively increasing fire behavior from below, (1) without posting a lookout; (2) without DIVS A notifying his supervisor (OPS) of this major tactical move after being told by OPS to "hunker and be safe;" and all this (3) without notifying Air Attack of their intentions, changing location(s), and /or their action(s). It is posted below.
YHFR Formerly Unrevealed post Part 1 of 5 - Figure 25. Brian Lauber June 30, 2013, 1629 (4:29 PM) photo with Google Earth overlay indicating GMHS location(s), movements, and specific areas of importance (e.g. midslope road, descent point, deployment zone, and BSR) Source: Lauber, WTKTT, Google Earth
We use the phrase "Safety Zone" in our posts only because it is mentioned so often as such in the SAIT-SAIR. Per the NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) in the link below, a Safety Zone is defined on page 23 as an area that is "Survivable without a fire shelter." (emphasis added) It would be more accurate to refer to it as a Deployment Zone (also referenced in the IRPG), where the alleged GMHS "lookout" McDonough considered deploying his fire shelter near the Old Grader site. Many times it is also referred to as a Deployment / Fatality Site and throughout this post and this website / blog. ( https://www.nwcg.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pms461.pdf )
According to Schoeffler, the Quisling Hot Shot "Brother" that initially broached the AFUE transcripts and a 3-ring binder, told him that the AFUE transcripts contained some fairly incriminatory evidence of the GMHS plan to hike to their Deployment / Fatality Site: "at about 1600 (4:00 PM) Marsh called Air Attack (AA) every five minutes or so persistently and insistently requesting 'Air Support on our egress.'"
This need for "air support on our egress" assertion by GMHS / DIVS A Marsh is a key part of the continuing conversation between GMHS / DIVS A Marsh and the AA (referred to as ASM2 below) in the SAIT-SAIR on page 27: "At 1637, ASM2 flies a drop path for a VLAT north of Yarnell west to east and apparently over DIVS A, turning northward .... DIVS A, seeing the flight, calls and calmly says, “[ASM2], Division Alpha, That’s exactly what we’re looking for. That’s where we want the retardant.” ASM2 again circles the south end of the fire above Yarnell to line up a final flight path for a tanker drop." (SAIT-SAIR) (emphasis added)
It is a permissible inference that the FOIA Requests for the June 30, 2013, YH Fire AFUE Records seeking the AFUE records (audio and / or transcripts) are a continuation of the SAIT-SAIR A/G radio transmission quoted above.
Is this one of the SAIT-SAIR "we will never know" reasons the USFS failed to provide the requested YH Fire AFUE 3-ring binder to any of us FOIA Requesters? Or is it because of this SAIT-SAIR documented incriminating statement by the Quisling Hot Shot "Brother" bolstering the June 20, 2013, 1637 (4:37 PM) Air-to-Ground radio transmissions between DIVS A Marsh and the AA / ASM2 contained within the SAIT-SAIR and posted above?
I want you all to be aware that I never knew that the retired USFS Hot Shot Supt. Schoeffler had filed a FOIA Request for the AFUE records or the 3-ring binder until I heard it on the local television in the beginning of 2017. Once I heard the newscasters talking about the retired Hot Shot Supt. it reminded me that back in the Springtime of 2016, when I talked with a retired Municipal Hybrid Battalion Chief. However, I am unwilling to reveal how I first became aware of the AFUE / 3-ring binder.
I will tell you this - I have known about this since January 2015, when I received this "gift of knowledge" from someone high up, after he saw how I was falsely accused and disparaged by those wanting to hide the truth about the YH Fire, unethically using their authoritarian power. However, my faith in God is much more powerful than anything they had.
However, the YH Fire AFUE 3-ring binder factualy still exists in the hands of the former SW Region District USFS Fire Management Officer (DFMO) Marvin - recently transferred to the Northern Region - that originally seized it from the USFS former Hot Shot Quisling in 2015 when he said he was basically 'threatened' by his DFMO to 'never collect any more information about the GMHS ever again.' This USFS employee was also rewarded with a promotion and transfer to the Northern Region, a long-established USFS maneuver to show their gratitude to compliant, sycophant employees for a job well-done betraying their fellow employees.
Before examining the following USFS and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) email threads and direction, it is worth reconsidering the previously addressed 18 USC Criminal Codes (below) regarding the June 30, 2013, AFUE Government records contained within a 3-ring binder, posted above in this post, and discussed beneath Part 1 of 5 Figures 9 and 10. These would clearly apply to Government employee(s) sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the laws thereof, that would engage in the illegal acts to purloin, conceal, and destroy them:
Several of these seem to be very clear violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (taking of a public record or document is prohibited), 18 U.S.C. § 1361 (destruction of such records prohibited), 18 U.S.C. § 1663 (Protection Of Government Property - Protection Of Public Records And Documents), and 18 U.S.C. § 2071 (essentially three types of conduct are prohibited by 2071) (DOJ link above) according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ), as well as a clear-cut violation of our First Amendment rights to seek redress.
Bear in mind that the Federal offense of 18 U.S. Code § 371
( law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/371 ) (Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States) as well, whereby "two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy" ... and, of course: 18 U.S. Code § 1001. (Statements or entries generally ... whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully — (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact; (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or (3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry ...)"
Federal Conspiracy Law: A Brief Overview by Charles Doyle, Senior Specialist in American Public Law (January 20, 2016) ( https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41223.pdf )
What follows are the fruits of my FOIA Requests for the June 28-30, 2013, YH Fire in the form of several revealing email threads from the high level USFS Fire and Aviation Management (FAM) personnel and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) personnel email threads. The USDA OGC attorney email acknowledges possession of the requested AFUE records and surely reveals that he understands their significance when he tells the USFS FAM to "make sure nothing happens to those tapes ... and please have some copies carefully made for preservation purposes." (emphasis added)
Figure 39. Two PDF JPEG images of an August 20, 2013, email thread from USDA USFS Fire Directors to USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) attorneys regarding the requested AFUE records, admitting that George Vargas has the records. Source: Joy A Collura (2016-FS-R3-04243-F)
This August 20, 2013, email is a critical one because it contains information from the USFS Deputy Fire Director Bob Baird to USFS Fire Director Tom Harbour, and George Vargas of the Office of Regulatory and Management Services (ORMS) and numerous Office of General Counsel (OGC) employees that the AFUE audio and video records DO IN FACT EXIST. "Benny, George Vargas has custody of the disc with the video/audio files for the WO. He is cced." (emphasis added) Let me further emphasize that in all caps. BENNY, GEORGE VARGAS HAS CUSTODY OF THE DISC WITH THE VIDEO / AUDIO FILES FOR THE WO. HE IS CC'ED. (EMPHASIS ADDED)
Robert Baird, the Deputy Fire Director at the time and is now the USFS Pacific Southwest Region 5 Regional Forester. It looks like the Marine Corps left a different 'Brotherhood' lasting impression on him. Tom Harbour has since retired from the USFS and works with the Intl. Assoc. of Wildland Fire (IAWF), the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) "in work to reduce line of duty death, accident, and injury" and the Cornea Corporation. Cornea provides "Information Technology and Services offering Emergency Management including wildland fire - better information, better decisions." I am a proud member of the IAWF enrolled in their Mentor / Mentee program.
Here is a link (below) for Tom Harbour's Exit Interviews Parts 1-3 link from Wildfire Today, so listen to what he has to say about covering things up on investigations. ( https://wildfiretoday.com/2015/12/17/tom-harbour-exit-interview-part-1/ ) Since retiring, Tom started a small business Harbor Fire ( http://www.harbourfire.com/ ). You can't help but like the man but I sure question some of his integrity on the YH Fire and GMHS facts and records.
The custodian of the AFUE records, George Vargas, works for the Office of Regulatory and Management Services (ORMS) which is located in the Business Operations Deputy Area. ORMS has responsibility Controlled Correspondence, Correspondence Policy, Data Quality, Directives and Regulation, Forms, Reports, FOIA, Privacy Act, Information Collections, and Record Management.
Figure 40. PDF JPEG image of an email thread (8/19-20/13) OGC attorneys & USDA USFS Directors “make sure nothing happens to those [AFUE] tapes … have some copies carefully made …” Source: Joy A Collura FOIA Request (2016-FS-R3-04243-F)
Email thread from August 19-20, 2013, between USDA OGC attorney L. Benjamin Young, Jr. and USDA USFS Director Tom Harbour with AFUE direction to “make sure nothing happens to those [AFUE] tapes … have some copies carefully made for preservation purposes." (emphasis added) Clearly, the OGC attorney understands the importance of the AFUE records ("make sure nothing happens to those tapes") and the need to be mindful in securing them ("copies carefully made for preservation purposes").
Figure 41. PDF JPEG image of WFSTAR Weather Channel YH Fire video with Britt Rosso, Center Manager of the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (LLC) talking about the importance of talking about, discussing, and sharing about the YH Fire in order to heal and learn together. Source: WLFLLC and YouTube and Weather Channel ( https://youtu.be/C65FcpAi_-4 )
Please notice the discrepancy and hypocrisy of the messages between the March 2014 Weather Channel video encouraging YH Fire discussions (quoted immediately below) compared to the USDA OGC and USFS FAM cautionary and warning emails and guidance letters to not have those discussions in the PDF JPEG images of the email threads below. Which one was it? Which one of these were the USFS WFs to follow?
"I am here today to talk to you about the Yarnell Fire ... we are all struggling with how to process what happened on June 30th, 2013. Know we're all struggling out in the fire community about where the lessons, what are the take-home messages, what can we learn from this incident. What I want to share with you is how important it is to talk about it; not only to talk about it but to let you know that it's okay to talk about it and it's important that you do talk about it. Share what you've learned by reading the reports, by watching the videos and have an open, honest, respectful dialogue. Be willing to listen to other's opinions and have that respectful dialogue with your fellow firefighters by having this dialogue, by facilitating these conversations about Yarnell. This is where the learning's going to happen, is with you and your brothers and sisters out there in the field.This is the 20th anniversary of South Canyon and we're still learning fromSouth Canyon 20 years later. Yarnell just happened eight months ago. We'll be learning about the Yarnell Incident for years to come. Time and patience are going to be key for learning from this incident, so I ask you to just take the time and be patient and work through this together." Britt Rosso - former NPS Arrowhead Hot Shot Supt. and retired NARTC Director
It's pretty clear to me, and I would hope to most WFs and FFs engaged in wildland firefighting, what Mr. Rosso is sincerely endorsing and
whole-heartedly encouraging us to do. However, the USFS and USDA OGC advice email threads contradict what Mr. Rosso is saying.
Figure 42. PDF JPEG image of USFS Southwestern Region Guidance letter (right - August 19, 2013) and (left - August 16, 2013) USFS and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) email thread regarding "Refrain from discussing the Yarnell Fire with any third parties until cleared to do so" Source: Joy A. Collura FOIA Request
(In)consistent ... ? USFS Southwestern Region Guidance letter (right - August 19, 2013) and USFS and USDA Office of General Counsel (OGC) (left - August 16, 2013) "Refrain from discussing the Yarnell Fire with any third parties until cleared to do so." (emphasis added) So then, which one is the one for USFS WFs to adhere to as counsel? Follow the USFS Agency Guidelines and "specific procedures" provided to their employees? Or is it the "Refrain from discussing the Yarnell Fire with any third parties until cleared to do so" in a more authoritative advisory tone?
Figure 43. PDF JPEG image of a USFS Regional email thread (left) from Fire Operations Director Bill VanBruggen and Assistant Fire Operations Director Richard Nieto, Subject: A message from the Fire Director - Yarnell contacts, to Tonto NF Fire Personnel with cc: to Type 1 IC Clay Templin and numerous other FMOs and Fire & Aviation Management (FAM) personnel, regarding the OGC (March 4, 2014) direction: "We have had the advice from OGC for our employees to NOT comment on the incident itself so please heed that" while referring to the February 22, 2016, USFS Southwestern Region letter (right) to all Forest Supervisors, subject: "[USFS SW Area Employee] Guidance and Resource Information on Requests Related to the Yarnell Hill Fire" Source: Joy A. Collura FOIA Request
This is an informative USFS Southwestern Region email thread (left) from Fire Operations Director Bill VanBruggen and Assistant Fire Operations Director Richard Nieto regarding: Subject: A message from the Fire Director - Yarnell contacts, to Tonto NF Fire Personnel with cc: to Type 1 IC Clay Templin and numerous other FMOs and FAM personnel, regarding the OGC (March 4, 2014) direction: "We have had the advice from OGC for our employees to NOT comment on the incident itself so please heed that" while referring to the February 22, 2016, USFS Southwestern Region letter (right) to all Forest Supervisors, subject: "[USFS SW Area Employee] Guidance and Resource Information on Requests Related to the Yarnell Hill Fire" (emphasis added)
The email thread in Figure 42 above (left) subject is: "A message from the Fire Director - Yarnell contacts." Noteworthy: "See the highlighted sentence below on the WO direction regarding personal contacts and requests to lobby for action s [sic] related to Yarnell." The initials "HG" are in the lower left corner of the email, are likely the USFS SW Area Tonto NF (Acting or Assistant Fire Staff). (all emphasis added)
In another portion of the email thread from Nieto to several Region 3 HS Supts., is the following: "Please share as appropriate, as this was a follow up from the WO/FAM [Washington Office / Fire & Aviation Management] in reference to a email [sic] request from the mother of a member of the Granite Mountain crew requesting information from the IHC nationally.." (emphasis added)
"On separate note it's our intention regionally to have a follow up conference call with our USFS sponsored IHC crews [sic] with [SW Regional Fire Director] Bill [VanBruggen] and [SW Regional Forester] Cal [Joyner] to discuss this and other pertinent issues from the IHC Post AAR meeting. Any questions give me a call." (all emphasis added)"
These three email thread comments from the USFS Southwestern Regional Office FAM are important because of their need to have all these officials involved in their conference call to ensure the Southwestern Region Hot Shot Crews receive the proper YH Fire "guidance" to include the IHC Crews the Southwestern Regional Fire Director and the SW Regional Forester "to discuss this and other pertinent issues from the IHC Post AAR meeting." (emphasis added)
It is noteworthy that the USFS WO/FAM [Washington Office / Fire & Aviation Management] is so interested in an AZ State Forestry wildfire where only the BRHS, some misc. overhead, and several AFUE resources were the only USFS employees engaged on the YH Fire. All of this attention because of " ... a email [sic] request from the mother of a member of the Granite Mountain crew requesting information from the IHC nationally.." (emphasis added) It must be due to the fact (based on both SAIT and ADOSH members word) that the USDA USFS funded the YH Fire SAIT and SAIR. One investigator factually stated that 'It was clear that [USFS] Co-Team Leader Mike Dudley and [now USFS] Director Vicki Christensen were in charge of the YH Fire [SAIT] investigation.' With Federal funding usually comes Federal control. A USFS FOIA Request on this issue has been filed and their usual response is them being "backlogged" and it is repeated in every status request email.
Figure 44. USFS AFUE Briefing Paper falsely claiming "no ground to air (VHF-FM) radio traffic was recorded" Source: former ADOSH Investigator Barry Hicks and Collura FOIA records
This USFS FAM briefing paper falsely claims that there were "no ... ground to air (VHF-FM) radio traffic." The more common terminology is Air-to-Ground (A/G). This was an attachment to a USFS August 29, 2013, FOIA Request by ADOSH attorney Christopher O. Anderson also providing him with four (4) AFUE DVDs.
The referenced USFS FAM August 23, 2013, "[AFUE] Study Data Collected on Yarnell Hill" and “FOIA request and public release of data collected by the AFUE ground team" briefing paper was forwarded to one of our contributing authors by ADOSH Investigator Barry Hicks. The briefing paper was an attachment to a USFS August 29, 2013, FOIA Request Response to ADOSH attorney Christopher O. Anderson providing them with four (4) AFUE DVDs. Neither myself nor the former USFS Hot Shot Supt. Schoeffler, also filing USFS YH Fire AFUE FOIA Requests received four (4) AFUE DVDs. (emphasis added)
This USFS FAM Briefing Paper is more proof of USFS obfuscation and prevarication. It is a fact that there were YH Fire June 30, 2013, Air-to-Ground (A/G) radio transmissions recorded by the AFUE according to their own USFS and USDA OGC email threads above revealed in Figures 39 and 40 (i.e. “make sure nothing happens to those [AFUE] tapes … have some copies carefully made …”).
Figure 45. PDF JPEG image of after the Doce Fire Briefing on June 30, 2013, and transition to Yarnell Hill Fire assignment conversation between WF overhead and GMHS Acting Supt. Steed. Source: Schoeffler and Anonymous-by-request WFs This concerns a face-to-face conversation on the morning of June 30, 2013, with two USFS PNF WF supervisors that worked with the GMHS on the Doce Fire the week prior to the Yarnell Hill Fire. The GMHS was still assigned to the Prescott NF to work on the Doce Fire and Misc. ABC fires securing lines and mopping them up. The GMHS had completed the morning briefing for these wildfires and were notified of them being "committed" or reassigned to the YH Fire and were then in transit to Yarnell. Along the way, these men met somewhere and had a brief discussion with Asst. GMHS Supt. Steed as follows:
These two former Doce Fire WF supervisors asked Steed ‘How are things going?’ Steed replied: “The way things are going, [he] is gonna get us all killed.”
This significant, disturbing conversation was recounted to me by (1) a former USFS fatality investigator, (2) a "contributing other" author (on four separate occasions), (3) the USFS employee himself, (4) and other USFS WFs. This is chilling - well frightening is more like it! He knew that morning that things were bad, and yet he followed stupid and unsafe orders to hike into a Death Trap, taking the GMHS with him on a Trip to Abilene. Talk about a "self-fulfilling prophecy!" One has to wonder ... were these two USFS WF supervisors that worked with the GMHS on the Doce Fire the week prior ever interviewed?
Figure 46. PDF JPEG image of Sun City West FD Jerry Thompson Drop Box June 30, 2013, photographs of increasing fire behavior. Source: Sun City West FD, YouTube, WTKTT
(https://www.dropbox.com/sh/02ue6bnjp6nazkm/AACjXUZXUTol5xdSHlORGsTqa/Photos%20and%20Video/Jerry%20Thompson%20Photos%20Videos?dl=0&subfolder_nav_tracking=1 ) Copy and paste this Drop Box link to access it
Yarnell Hill Fire - Thompson IMG _1898 - 6/30/2013 - 4 24 PM ( https://youtu.be/mOyePMA6pLE ) and ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOyePMA6pLE )
Consider now the 3:23 and 5:45 Sesame Street, The Shrine Corridor area, and GMHS Deployment Zone Alignment cross-fade video work from WTKTT.
Figure 46a. Crossfade video of the Yarnell Hill Fire - Thompson IMG _1898 - 6/30/2013 - 4 24 PM Source: Sun City West FD, Google Earth, YouTube, WTKTT
Crossfade video of a photo taken at 4:24 PM on June 30, 2013, at the Yarnell Hill Fire, by Sun City West FF Jerry Thompson. He and his crew were serving as 'lookouts' at a location just West of 'Westway' in Yarnell. The yellow line in the crossfade represents the Sesame-to-Shrine dozer line. The photo shows that, circa 4:24 PM, the fire was definitely coming into Yarnell from out in the 'middle bowl' area, but there was no 'fire' or 'smoke' actually emanating from the Youth Camp or the dozer line itself.
To clarify and put into perspective here, WTKTT claims there was "no 'fire' or 'smoke' actually emanating from the Youth Camp or the dozer line itself" and this is a true statement. However, we have always been talking about the last "18 minutes" and there was clearly fire in those crucial areas after 4:24 PM based on separate and distinct smoke columns (plumes) visible in photos posted on this website / blog. And the WTKTT video was borne from the fact that locals were showing me their fire photos believing that their YH Fire photos and videos were of fire behavior closer to town a lot earlier than what the SAIT-SAIR and media were revealing. So, they were hoping that these WFs and FFs folks would come forth to share their photos and videos and testimonies of fire behavior closer to town and / or within the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area from their perspective.
We are continually interviewing WFs, FFs, and locals in the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor and spur road areas seeking their accounts, and hopefully, records as well.
Figure 46b. PDF JPEG image screenshot and Snippet of crossfade video of the Yarnell Hill Fire indicating fire weather, topography, and firing operation fire behavior alignment (Thompson IMG _1898 - 6/30/2013 - 4 24 PM) Source: Sun City West FD, Google Earth, YouTube, WTKTT
Consider the Figures 45a. & b. above that reveal the Sun City West FD Jerry Thompson Drop Box June 30, 2013, crossfade video and screenshot Snippet of the photographs (with explanatory text by me) of the increasing fire behavior located at video timeframes of 3:23 and 5:45, respectively for the Sesame Street, Shrine Corridor area, and GMHS Deployment Zone Alignment.
From one of our contributing authors: This extremely influential alignment, influenced by the severe outflow winds from the North funneled exponentially increasing fire behavior, massive spotting, severe burning, intense vertical and horizontal vortices generating additional vorticity and instability, and mass ignition funneled upslope into the GMHS Deployment Zone and Fatality Site. This was then further topographically influenced by the GMHS "descent point" ridgeline saddle above the bowl-slope above the Deployment Site drawing the winds and fire behavior upslope toward and through it in a Venturi effect. The yellow line represents the Sesame-to-Shrine Corridor dozer line. The twin parallel red lines indicate the two parallel chutes, chimneys that align upslope directly into the GMHS Deployment Zone and Fatality site. The roundish-red icon ("D") indicates the GMHS Deployment Zone and the other roundish-red icons indicate various locations of personnel (GMHS and Sun City West FD FF), locations (i.e. BSR, 'Old Grader' site, dozer staging, helispot, GMHS Command vehicle and Crew Carriers)
Consider now the topographic effects of Saddles and the resultant effects of fluid dynamics on wildland fire weather and how it can potentially have exponential influences fire on behavior on wildfires from several sources.
Butler, B. et al (1998) Fire Behavior Associated with the South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado ( https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rp009.pdf )
Venturi effect - The increase in velocity of a stream of gas or liquid as it passes from one area through another area of smaller size or diameter. Conversely, if the area through which the stream is passing becomes larger, the velocity of the stream will decrease.
Estimating Winds for Fire Behavior ( https://www.nwcg.gov/publications/pms437/weather/estimating-winds-for-fire-behavior )
Of saddles and chimneys and safety in general ( http://www.t-cep.org/Handbook/Ofsaddles.htm )
"A saddle is the low area between two high points or hilltops in a ridge line. In a wildfire saddles become channels for high winds as the heat from the fire flows uphill. The wind tends to speed up as it squeezes between the hilltops and then blows over the ridge with greater force. Saddles are not good places to site homes, nor are they good places to seek refuge if caught in the open by a wildfire.
A chimney is a narrow side canyon usually tilted up toward a ridge line. The steeper and narrower the side canyon, the more it will act like a chimney drawing hot air from a fire into it and speeding it uphill. Chimneys can become infernos in a wildfire."
Page, W.G. and Butler, B.W. (2018) Fuel and topographic influences on wildland firefighter burnover fatalities in Southern California. IAWF, 27 ( https://www.publish.csiro.au/wf/pdf/WF17147 )
The Venturi effect - Youtube video Published August 26, 2012
Venturi Effect and Pitot Tubes Kahn Academy
( https://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/fluids/fluid-dynamics/v/venturi-effect-and-pitot-tubes )
Yarnell Hill Fire - Thompson IMG _1898 - 6/30/2013 - 4 24 PM
The exponentially increasing fire behavior is briefly addressed here. "Exponential growth - a quantity is said to be growing exponentially when its value at any time is its previous value multiplied by a particular number, the same number each time. (Note that exponential growth is different than linear growth. In a linear process, a quantity increases by the same amount, not the same multiple, at each step. ... and seems to remain a mystery" (emphasis added) (Dorner, D. 1996. The Logic of Failure. Why things go wrong and what we can do to make them right. pp. 111-112)
( http://potionsformuggles.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-logic-of-failure.html ) Dorner book review
A Yarnell area local contractor, having witnessed the June 30, 2013, fire behavior and while losing a lot of heavy equipment in the fire, basically describes in near-perfection what aggressive and extreme fire behavior he witnessed and what is clearly visible in these two photographs. "Gordon Acri, who has property in Yarnell, described the situation as a wall of flame coming from the north to the south. 'It was just eating everything up in sight.'" (emphasis added) (http://archive.azcentral.com/ic/contest/pulitzer/yarnell/ ) Acri's assertion validates the likely Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation fire behavior.
The Yarnell Hill Fire: The Meteorological Origins (July 2, 2013) Cliff Mass Weather and Climate Blog. This blog discusses current weather, weather prediction, climate issues, and other topics.
Excellent 20-minute time-lapse video from Congress, AZ to the South indicating thunderstorm downdrafts and outflow winds on fire behavior and good comments from Matt Oss titled: Yarnell Hill Fire from Congress, AZ"
Refer also to the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station General Technical Report PNW GTR- 854 November 2011. Synthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior: Volume I for Fire Managers. Paul A. Werth, Brian E. Potter, Craig B. Clements, Mark A. Finney, Scott L. Goodrick, Martin E. Alexander, Miguel G. Cruz, Jason A. Forthofer, and Sara S. McAllister
( https://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/pubs/pnw_gtr854.pdf ) P. 145 for ordering instructions - Excellent free publication!
Figure 47. PDF JPEG image screenshot and Snippet of the slide asking "Was there a Rogue Sesame Street and Shrine Fuel / Fire Break Corridor [area] firing operation?" Source: SAIT-SAIR; Schoeffler, Honda, Collura, DP, Harwood
There are only two SAIT-SAIR quotes referring to the Sesame Street and Shrine Fuel / Fire Break Corridor area as a "two-track road" and "old fuel break" being prepared for a "burnout along the dozer line." One of our Contributing Author / Editors noted that the word "area" was lacking from the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor in our AHFE PowerPoint presentation image above in brackets. Therefore, it is added into the Figure 47 caption.
We are presenting our point of view as an argument, supported, of course, by relevant facts, drawn from sources, and presented in an logical manner. The thesis of an argumentative position is debatable. It makes a proposition about which reasonable people could disagree, and any two writers working with the same source materials could conceive of and support other, opposite thesis. Source: Synthesis Information MSU.EDU. Argument sources - information from other authors you agree with, disagree with, or build upon. ( libguides.heidelberg.edu/eval/beam ) "Constructing an argument and substantiating a claim is rarely entirely black-or white, on-or-off, all or nothing. Argumentative writing is about being able to articulate a position and argue it using academic evidence. In fact, in your research you may find yourself disagreeing with sources at one point and agreeing with them later in the same essay. Arguments are often a mixture of assertion, acknowledgement, confirmation, refutation, and concession. Complex claims rarely have a single right or wrong answer; rather they are provocations, analyses, explications, or applications of concepts, theories, and ideas." (all emphasis added) (Odegaard Writing Ctr. & Research - Washington.edu )
The sole public evidence thus far of a likely firing operation, has been scant (i.e. July 2013 Yarnell Library video vanished without a trace) viewed by many showing a firing operation; the following year (2014) "burnt fusees" and "accelerants" were located (by special local hounds) along the Corridor area during separate site visits; and a recent GMHS family member PODCAST firmly acknowledging "I stand firm that there was a backburn [inexperienced / untrained vernacular for a burnout or firing operation] that came up that canyon. It was this fact along with the weather change that the IC never sent out ... " (all emphasis added) ( https://www.investigativemedia.com/please-begin-yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-xxvi-here/#comment-478401 ) This was posted on IM on April 22, 2019 at 1:00 PM and the quote is from one of my Public Records Requests within an email (January 29, 2015) from [DP] to [RO] "Re: Yarnell Fire."
Consider now the photo in Figure 48 (below) of the actual City of Prescott - Public Records Request (PRR) Dated 6-17-16 regarding a January 29, 2015, email between DP and RO. When the above IM post came out, there were people in the Fire Industry that unjustly disparaged me because they told me that DP never made this statement and there is no such document showing such. Due to the overwhelming feedback from numerous WFs and FFs coming forward expressing the need for forthcoming training, Staff Rides, Training Academies, and the like, the sole reason I placed the document below is to prove the point in an entirely positive way about the "backburn" rather than in a manner to cause any grievance or criticism.
On April 24, 2019 at 12:57 AM (Comment 478080 of IM Chapter XXVI), WTKTT stated: "The only mysteries have always been what HER 'original sources' were ... and if she ended up discovering things herself that are still not ( yet ) publicly known." My disappointment is when listening to all these PODCASTS she placed out there on the Internet, there are other firefighters who said they know from her that there are other vital areas on the "backburn" subject omitted from and / or not discussed / posted on those PODCASTS. So then, in order to find the "complete" truth - something we all want - do I question what she claims she knows about the "backburn" or do I question what the firefighters have told me? Furthermore, and more importantly, we need to address this and present this privately as well as the public at large so that we can fulfill our shared goal. We both agree that "We will learn lessons from this only when the truth is complete. ..." (emphasis added)
Figure 48. Email (January 29, 2015) from [DP] to [RO] "Re: Yarnell Fire" and her "I stand firm there was a backburn that came up that canyon. It was this fact ..." Source: Collura City of Prescott - Public Records Request (PRR) Dated 6-17-16
Consider now the Figure 48 image (above) of the DP and RO January 29, 2015, email transcript typed out for easier reading and comprehension.
"Thursday January 29, 2015 7:53 AM From: [DP] with email address omitted / redacted To: [RO] Subject: Re Yarnell Fire
"Thank you for including me on all of you and your groups (sic) hard work. We have been very busy trying to right some injustices and it has been a battle.
"In this section in your closing you state: "In closing, we would like to consider the unofficial rumor that GMHS were coerced into leaving a good black safety zone to move to the ranch. Had the GMHS been adequately trained in reading the fire's next dangerous move, they would not have made the fatal decisions that led to their deaths. If all the firefighters had been equipped with the proper assessment training, Marsh or anyone else would not have been able to convince them to make the choice that they did." (emphasis original)
"I am not sure how comfortable I am with the comment about 'adequately trained' because I know that GMIHS had not received all of the weather information. No matter how much training you have if you are not given all the facts it can lead to mishap. I will leave the 'coerced' fact to the Lord - I pray he convicts the men's (sic) hearts who know the truth.
"I do have a request (if possible) I know that there is a software program that can build then show fire progression based on input. Would it be possible to work with this software and put in the fire information that we have about Yarnell and see if it predicts the growth of this fire and they (sic) state?
"I stand firm that there was a back burn that came up that canyon. It was this fact along with the weather change that the IC never sent out because they were busy evacuating that caused the death of Granite Mountain. Yes there were all of the facts that your group has so brilliantly shown but please let's not lose sight that we are still fighting for the complete truth. (emphasis added)
"If you have any questions or need anything further let me know. I look forward to the opportunity to use the software.
"God is so good - may His peace guide you."
There is also evidence from some other sources as well that refer to a "backburn." ("Our Investigation, Our Truth - What Happened to the Granite Mountain Hot Shots") [DP] and former GMHS D. Harwood. November 28, 2015 email ( https://anchor.fm/ourtruth/episodes/Episode-Ten-Thank-You-e40gp7 )
On an InvestigativeMEDIA post, "[DP] says April 12, 2014 at 8:11 am Thank you for doing this digging for me. I have theory – of which I have had many but discover they won’t work – I really think there was a back burn set possibly by the trailers. Thoughts!" (emphasis added)
Are the "trailers" that she refers the ones on the Wasson's property in the Sesame Street section of the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor? "[DP] says April 12, 2014 at 8:31 am (IM post) Stop the bickering and move on. To “The Truth” – the Helm’s were inside because the fire came up soooooo quickly. They even still had their animals out. (emphasis added)
"They just made it in their home after rushing around putting them in. ... But I agree is (sic) was NOT true (sic) safety zone. But we all know if GMIHS would have made it to the ranch they would have survived."
Experienced WFs and FFs have told me that the fire moved very quickly, exponentially influenced by the likely firing operation because of the North outflow winds and the topographic alignment. We rely on the support of their investigation which acknowledges that "there was a back burn that came up that canyon. It was this fact ..." which allows a permissible inference to be drawn that the specifically focused title of their PODCAST, i.e. "Our Truth" of what they discovered. It is unfortunate that they have only spoken of evidence they have uncovered, however, they have never specifically revealed any of their sources or what they have discovered. And this may be based on some legal counsel they may have received or ??? (emphasis added). If she has specific reason(s) why she cannot (or will not) reveal her sources or other information, then I would expect all that to be clarified in some detail. We are definitely on parallel paths, and I have tried to reach out to her on her PODCAST and never got a reply back. We are being shared some of the same or similar information. I too withhold some of my source information for various reasons. I avoid "throwing anyone under the bus" and give them the opportunity to share with me in private first. If they do not respond, then I place the information out and avoid using their names.
DP posted this on IM on April 9, 2014: "The truth of what happened that day will come out. We will learn lessons from this only when the truth is complete. ..." (emphasis added) Yes indeed! We totally agree on this. And we are doing our part with every post on this website and blog.
DP is absolutely correct in this statement that "The truth of what happened that day will come out. We will learn lessons from this only when the truth is complete." However, it is going to require her to reveal what she knows and her sources, even those "anonymous-by-request" if it is to happen. And, of course, local residents, WFs, and FFs that were on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, to provide the same as well, with their personal anecdotes, photos, and videos.
On IM on April 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM [DP] asks: " >>Has anyone thought about a back burn? The human factors aspect/ the oppression GMIHS lived under from the city? Who could have had the power to make them go off the hill? Did the left hand know what the right hand was doing? Who was the Forest Service man who was at the restaurant talking on the phone saying “we really f- – – ed up.”? Any answers." (emphasis added) ( https://www.investigativemedia.com/yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-vi-comments/#comment-22767 )
DP asks: "Has anyone thought about a back burn?" (emphasis added) Of course we have; that has been the theme of this website from its inception and we ask that same question and seek out those records to validate that fact that a firing operation did in fact occur - every opportunity we get. The main reason I am doing this is because in the second week of July 2013, the actual landowner told me his account of firemen burning on his property; then later seeing another homeowner's photo of a firing operation with vehicles and a WF's and / or FF's view from The Grotto performing a firing operation out in the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area. Five locals have identified that one of the FFs came from Flagstaff; on a recorded interview, a recently deceased Shrine Grotto resident Doug Camblin (RiP Oct. 10, 2019) told me that this Flagstaff FF came back after the fire and bought his boat.
Then, on the 2014 GMHS Memorial Anniversary, I took author John Maclean "researcher" Holly Neill, Eric Marsh's best friend Alan Sinclair, Univ, of CO author, professor, and researcher Michael Kodas, fire shelter designer Jim Roth and his lady friend, Deanna Thompson (IM Fire 20+), and Fred Thompson to the area above. I did not show them the photos or reveal the name of the homeowner to protect them, to the folks mentioned above, however, I did take them to the site and angle of where the firing operation photo was taken from. That same day, before they arrived, there were two Honor Guard people that played the bagpipes, dressed in formal uniforms, that I overheard state "what happened on this [Shrine] road will die with us." The reason I never placed this information publicly on IM or elsewhere, until now, was due to sensitivity for the loved ones. However, a select few in person have always known about this. So then, these two Honor Guard men were either there or know who was there that day involved with the firing operation.
"The human factors aspect/ the oppression GMIHS lived under from the city?" "Who could have had the power to make them go off the hill?" (emphasis added) Only they (GMHS) had that power. No one forced them off the hill that afternoon. "Did the left hand know what the right hand was doing?" (all emphasis added) All indications are that 'they' did not.
"Who was the Forest Service man who was at the restaurant talking on the phone saying “we really f- – – ed up.”? (emphasis added) This statement is particularly interesting. We would ALL like to know the answer to that question. Was it Mystery Man ... or someone else in an authoritative role? I also have been told that others heard someone say the "we really f- - -ked up" comment but just now realized that it was a USFS man from DP's question here. "Would anyone be able to guide me to any interviews with Yarnell Fire volunteer firefighters that were in Yarnell – or – any structure firefighters that were in Yarnell on June 30th? Thank you." (emphasis added) ( https://www.investigativemedia.com/yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-vi-comments/#comment-23106 )
She KNOWS that there were Yarnell FD FFs and other FFs there involved that day performing a "backburn" [firing operation]! However, she only goes so far in revealing any details on this important issue. I do know some of the names of these FFs you inquired about, so please reach out to me.
This is an InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) post directed to IM poster Bob Powers - "[DP] says April 25, 2014 at 10:07 am Mr. Powers – I am thankful that you are an OLD fire fighter. BUT GMIHS did not leave the black because they were ignorant of what was around them. They were ordered off the ridge -period. What needs to be discussed is who would have the power to insist they leave the black. Who would call them and require this movement? What are the human factors that these men worked under (City of Prescott & Forest Service)? They knew the last time they turned a directive down they were punished. They had eyes on the fire (Eric). They were told by someone that they had enough time to get to the ranch. Who possibly started a back burn that whipped up the canyon? Who is not talking that knows the truth? Who is being haunted by the memories of knowing a mistake was made? Who will finally step up and talk – standing up for the Granite Mountain Hotshots – finally stopping those voices that say it was them being cowboys? These men may have been young wildland firefighters but they knew the rules, they knew fire, they knew the fuels, they had their eyes on the fire, they would not take risks with their lives. I think a lot of good conversations are happening here – but – pressure needs to be placed on the so called leaders who do not accept the responsibility of leadership: “honesty”, "strength”, ”courage”." (all emphasis added) ( https://www.investigativemedia.com/yarnell-hill-fire-chapter-vi-comments/#comment-33409 )
If all the above is true about the GMHS, then they would still be alive. And we are definitely doing our part to put the pressure on seeking the same information, so please keep doing your part as well. For a long time, I would hear WFs and FFs that the GMHS were "ordered down." And in my opinion, considering their prior wildland fire leadership and human factors history of experiencing near misses, there were a lot of USFS WFs that felt that the GMHS should have never even been a Hot Shot Crew in the first place. So then, from the moment this happened until now, I have always believed that there is much more to this "ordered down" claim.
"[DP] says April 25, 2014 at 9:50 am Andrew Ashcraft is sitting – his shirt has a circle stain on the (R) shoulder. Yes he is between Wade Parker and Dustin DeFord. I had the opportunity to sit on the that same rock (thank you to the one who took me there). The view was panoramic – plus aggravating. They worked hard all morning to have it all for not because of a retardant drop – nice work put out the back burn. This is why they re-positioned." (all emphasis added)
On the contrary, we watched and photographed the GMHS "all morning" and most of the afternoon, and what we witnessed was that they hardly did much work at all that day.
Still trying to figure out who the "Mystery Man" is who was wearing the white, full brimmed hardhat, so please consider these photos below and examine them carefully. Are you any of these guys? Do any of you recognize these guys?
Figure 49. Photos of WFs and / or FFs engaged on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, unknown timeframe. Explanatory and / or inquiring text on photo. Some fire behavior is visible in the background. Source: Anonymous-By-Request contributor
Figure 49a. Photo of WFs and / or FFs engaged on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, unknown timeframe. Explanatory and / or inquiring text on photo. Some fire behavior is visible in the background. Source: Anonymous-By-Request contributor
Figure 49b. Cropped photo of WF and / or FF engaged on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, unknown timeframe. Explanatory and / or inquiring text on photo. Source: Anonymous-By-Request contributor
Figure 49c. Cropped photo of WF and / or FF engaged on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, unknown timeframe. Explanatory and / or inquiring text on photo. Source: Anonymous-By-Request contributor
Figure 49d. Cropped photo of WFs and / or FFs engaged on the YH Fire on June 30, 2013, unknown timeframe. Explanatory and / or inquiring text on photo. Some fire behavior is visible in the background. Source: Anonymous-By-Request contributor
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
AHFE: International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics - Advances in Human Error, Reliability, Resilience, and Performance. Proceedings of the AHFE 2019 International Conference on Human Error, Reliability, Resilience, and Performance, July 24-28, 2019, Washington D.C., USA
Figure 50. Alert for Wickenburg, AZ hospital to ready for "several" injured firefighters" and "FFs with burn injuries" snippet. Source: AZ Republic Pulitzer Prize - Yarnell Hill Fire
There were also numerous credible reports of "several" injured firefighters" and "FFs with burn injuries" that have never seen the light of day.
(http://archive.azcentral.com/ic/contest/pulitzer/yarnell/ ) "Wickenburg hospital expecting to treat 'several' injured firefighters; 19 still unaccounted for." #yarnellfire http://bit.ly/14kf8Kh 6:41 PM - 30 Jun 2013; 6:41 p.m.: "The hospital in nearby Wickenburg prepares to receive the injured, prompting The Republic to send reporters Dennis Wagner and Lindsey Collom there." Twitter link (emphasis added) as well as "7:18 PM: Officials tell us 22 firefighters are injured. We let readers know there are conflicting reports of what's happening." (emphasis added)
Additionally, an anonymous local source mentioned that he witnessed a local FF on June 30, 2013, in Yarnell toward the Seasame Street area where both his hands were burned. However, the Wickenburg Hospital neither confirmed nor denied any such injuries and cited HIPAA laws (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Public Law 104-191), regarding further information.
Lynn Bleeker, a former USFS WF, seems to have discerned the some of the key causal human factors issues on the YH Fire when she noted that the questions investigators will be asking are the obvious ones. However, did they ask those questions? She is on point here with her own questions: "Did they need to be there? With the weather coming in, were they informed as soon as they could have been to get the hell out of there? The bottom line," she said, “You should never be losing lives.” (emphasis added) (http://archive.azcentral.com/ic/contest/pulitzer/yarnell/ )
Tex Gilligan saw the deteriorating weather in the distance and said "Hey kid, we need to get the hell out of here." And the GMHS had the best view of anyone, except for Air Attack, so they should have seen the same thing without being warned over the radio.
Consider now these several various articles on Firewise, Defensible Space, and the like to better protect your property and allow the WFs and FFs a better and safer chance of success. Wildland fires are inevitable, especially in the Southwestern Region of the U.S. One means to improve your chances of your home surviving is to 'Firewise' your property by thinning and removing ladder fuels and fuels within a minimum of 30' from your structures although 50' is better and 100' is best.
Better yet is what is referred to as "Defensible Space" Creating defensible space is essential to improve your home’s chance ofsurviving a wildfire. It’s the buffer you create between a building on your property and the fuels that surround it.This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects your home from catching fire byeither direct flame contact or radiant heat. Defensible space is also important for the protection of thefirefighters defending your home.Here are two links that will be helpful as you prepare your property against the inevitable wildfires: (1) an NFPA link for the Firewise program information ( https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-andrisks/Wildfireutm_source=nwsl&utm_medium=email_medium&utm_campaign=nwsl0005&order_src=c365 ) and a pretty good one from the former California Department of Forestry link specifically on defensible space. This link may need to be copy and pasted to access the information.
Here are two links that will be helpful as you prepare your property against the inevitable wildfires: (1) an NFPA link for the Firewise program information
( https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-andrisks/Wildfireutm_source=nwsl&utm_medium=email_medium&utm_campaign=nwsl0005&order_src=c365 ) and a pretty good one from the former California Department of Forestry link specifically on defensible space (Wildfire Is Coming ... Are You Ready?):
( https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/getready/defensible-space/ ). These two links may need to be copy and pasted to access the information.
This is an excellent paper on the Yarnell Hill Fire and Yarnell in particular that goes onto a lot of detail."Analysis and Comments on the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona and the Current Fire Situation in the United States" (July 2013) Peter H. Morrison email@example.com and George Wooten firstname.lastname@example.org - Pacific Biodiversity Institute P.O. Box 298 Winthrop, Washington 98862 (509-996-2490) | email@example.com
California Wildfires - Key Recommendations to Prevent Future Disasters (June 25, 2019) Lawrence J. McQuillan, Hayeon Carol Park,Adam B. Summers, Katherine Dwyer. Independent Institute. Misplaced Priorities, Perverse Incentives, and Vicious Cycles
What follows are numerous informative YH Fire articles (2014) by the AZ Republic posted as a Pulitzer Prize series.( https://www.pulitzer.org/finalists/staff-18 )
DECLINING RESOURCES MAKE WILDFIRE PREVENTION DIFFICULT - Brandon Loomis, The Republic azcentral.com Republic reporters Erin Kelly, Mary Jo Pitzl, Mary K. Reinhart and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez contributed to this article.
One lightning strike. That’s all it takes. A SINGLE MOMENT SOMEWHERE, THE NEXT FIRE IS WAITING TO HAPPEN. By Brandon Loomis and Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com.
THE NEXT FIRE IS WAITING TO HAPPEN. By Brandon Loomis and Mary Jo Pitzl, The Republic | azcentral.com.
WE MOURN. THE INVESTIGATION: Seeking answers in wake of tragedy. July 2, 2013. THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC YARNELL HILL FIRE ( https://www.pulitzer.org/files/2014/breaking-newsreporting/azrepublic/03azrepublic2014.pdf )
More than 1 factor spawned tragedy, wildfire experts say - Fuels, thunderstorm likely contributed to deadly fire condition. By Shaun McKinnon. ( https://www.pulitzer.org/ )
The following excerpts and links are from various WFs and FFs on June 30, 2013, noteworthy radio transmissions pertaining to the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation and observed fire behavior.
Firing operation with OPS Abel and Task Force Leader (TFLD) Moser and OPS Musser video "firing operations ... horseshoe in between the two heads but it's starting to spot in the middle of that horseshoe and things are gonna start getting real active here when that thing starts heating up and it's gonna suck everything together ... pulling everybody out of The Ranch" video reveals separate and distinct smoke columns (plumes) and aggressive fire behavior as they are firing out. (M2U00261.MPG)
( https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ipv8to6ih7gmzbq/AAC82U3UuheEtc8GPHFn91vea?dl=0&preview=M2U00262.MPG ) (M2U00262.MPG ) You will need to copy and paste this link to access the data - Video of DIVS KC Yowell and Safety Officer Tony Sciacca
YH Fire Safety Officer Sciacca in The Shrine area with Harper Canyon in the background exhibiting very aggressive fire behavior. Several fire vehicles are visible as the camera pans near the end of the video. Video continuation of above Shrine area with aggressive fire behavior and DIVS Yowell ("slow it down Skippy") as the PVFD Water Tender (WT) rapidly approaches and passes him and two BRHS Crew Carriers are pulling out behind the WT. (M2U00263.MPG)
( https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ipv8to6ih7gmzbq/AAC82U3UuheEtc8GPHFn91vea? dl=0&preview=M2U00263.MPG) You will need to copy and paste this link to access the data
Video continuation of above Shrine area with aggressive fire behavior and DIVS Yowell and OPS Musser and DIVS Hulburd with BRHS Frisby overheard talking about being "in on those structures in The Shrine right now, and we'll be the last ones out, we're ah ... pushing our folks out ... with very multiple spots ... pushing down on us pretty hard." OPS Musser comments that "40 mph winds in Skull Valley right now."
( https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ipv8to6ih7gmzbq/AAC82U3UuheEtc8GPHFn91vea? dl=0&preview=M2U00263.MPG ) You will need to copy and paste this link to access the data
Multiple fire pickup and Fire Engine vehicles visible leaving the area - DIVS Hulburd comments: "we need to get everybody out of here ... we got fire coming across, we need to get them out ..." Cordes calls Task Force 2 asking about a couple Engines holding in place at BSR, ... TFLD 2 [Esquibel] "I'll send one that way ... DIVS Hulburd: "Frisby's coming out with the last ones, so once he's out, everybody's out" ...
"... the fire's been ... a lot's been happening these past 20 minutes, the fire's been pounding us real hard ... I think we're gonna start losing some structures in the next few minutes ... [BRHS True Brown] "Making sure idiots aren't burning themselves up ... goddamn" ... (M2U00264.MPG)
BRHS True Brown's comment about "Making sure idiots aren't burning themselves up" is very informative and revealing, supporting the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor area likely firing operation - the premise of this website.
Very aggressive fire behavior in the Shrine area in this video clip (M2U00266R.mp4)
(https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ipv8to6ih7gmzbq/AAC82U3UuheEtc8GPHFn91vea?dl=0&preview=M2U00266R.mp4 ) AA/Bravo 33 "Like they [GMHS] were Southeast, away from the fire, headed downhill ..." (M2U00267.MPG)
DIVS Hulburd stated: "what happened earlier was they [GMHS] sent some people to bump their trucks ... so the rest of the Crew ... they sent some people to bump their vehicles." This is an interesting comment suggesting that the GMHS had split up with several on The Weavers and several as drivers for their GMHS vehicles because this is NOT mentioned in the SAIT-SAIR.
In closing, please do your level best to discount and ignore the well intentioned, but clearly misguided, Wildland Fire LLC "Progressive Thinkers" and their "Honoring the Fallen" video (Figure 30) Please hearken back Part 1 of 5 to what former USFS Fire Director Jerry Williams stated in 2002: “The Ten Standard Firefighting Orders must be firm rules of engagement. They cannot be simple guidelines, and they cannot be “bargained.” They are the result of hard-learned lessons. Compromising one or more of them is a common denominator of all tragedy fires. On the Dude, South Canyon, and Thirtymile Fires, the Fire Orders were ignored, overlooked, or otherwise compromised. (emphasis added) (Williams 2002)
“The Fire Orders mean little after we are in trouble. That is why we must routinely observe them and rely on them before we get into trouble. We know that no fire shelter can ensure survival all of the time under all circumstances. Entrapment avoidance must be our primary emphasis and our measure of professional operational success." (all emphasis added) (Williams 2002)
Unfortunately, it readily appears that many of today's WFs and FFs engaging in wildland firefighting do not subscribe to this sage professional advice and wisdom. And worst of all, the Investigation Teams or Learning Reviews refuse to utilize these as a template or standard to compare or contrast what is right and wrong any longer. However, there may still be hope. Here is a quote from a portion of an "Old School" WF named Bill Astor (listed as "Safety Officer, [IMT] and facilities Safety Officer") in his ADOSH interview(s), which gives me hope.
"... we have the 10 & 18, you know -- some people would say they’re guidelines -- for us they’re - they’re rules - they’re policy - uh, they deal with fire behavior, they deal with - with organizational control, they - they deal with, uh, a myriad of - of, uh, issues and incidents that you could come into contact with and - and these 10 & 18 were developed as result of, you know, unfortunately catastrophes that we’ve just experienced and they’ve been developed in the field and they - they’ve been looked at by fire experts over the years and practiced - but th- these - these, uh, rules -- and - and I call them rules in my moniker -- are things that you cannot break, you cannot bend and you cannot walk away from. These are pre- pretty staunch rules of, uh, fireline activity and - and how you fight fire in a safe manner. INTERVIEW WITH BILL ASTOR - Interviewer: [ADOSH] Brett Steurer 10-18/8:05 am Case # AZSF - Page 8" (emphasis added and line numbers removed)
Over the years, I have had numerous WFs and FFs tell me: "If this newer, 'kinder, gentler' generation of WFs and FFs loses this 'Old School' way of thinking and fighting wildfires, then they are basically f**ked, because they'll never be able to get it back." Stay the course and "go back to the basics" of the "LCES and the 10 & 18" because they work every time you utilize them.