top of page
Search
  • Writer's picture

What Are The Known Fatal YH Fire Weather Factors Explaining What Led to the GMHS Fatalities? Pt. 4


Restating the post title beyond the limited Wix title allowance: What Are The Known Fatal Yarnell Hill Fire Weather Factors Explaining What Led Up To The June 30, 2013, GMHS Fatalities? Part 3 - ADOSH


Author Fred J. Schoeffler and other contributing authors

 

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. Thank you.


Abbreviations used: Wildland Firefighters (WFs) - Firefighters (FFs).

 

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,

But whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

Proverbs 28:26 (NKJV)


“Predicting the behavior of wildland fires—among nature’s most potent forces—can save lives, money, and natural resources.”

Frank Albini (1984)

USFS fire behavior research scientist. USDA USFS


'There are a lot of things in life that only work when you commit. No dabbling. No half-in. I mean commit. Commitment means all in, all the time. ... If you’re half trustworthy, you’re untrustworthy. If you’re often reliable, you’re unreliable. If you’re mostly consistent, you’re inconsistent. The key to doing anything well is commitment. ... If committing sounds like a lot of work, it is. That’s why so many people are half-in. The problem with half-in and half-committed is that it rarely gets you the results you want. If you're uncommitted, get out. The committed person gets both the opportunity and the results. All in, all the time.' (edited and truncated Farnam Street #494 - 10/16/22)

 

This post will be about the Federally-funded USFS, Arizona Dept. of Occupational Safety (ADOSH) report titled "Granite Mountain IHC Entrapment and Burnover Investigation" prepared by the Wildland Fire Associates (dated Nov. 2013) and detailing mostly with the wildland fire weather information, hence the Part 3 in this title. We initially began this series of YH Fire, wildland fire weather posts with the What Are The Known Fatal Yarnell Hill Fire Weather Factors Explaining What Led Up To The June 30, 2013, GMHS Fatalities? Part 1 dealing with the numerous interested and knowledgeable academics, meteorologists, and several other well-known wildland fire weather aficionados and Nerds regarding the YH Fire. Then we progressed to the Federally-funded USFS Yarnell Hill Fire June 30. 2013. Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIT-SAIR) Part 2. And finally we progressed to the current What Are The Known Fatal Yarnell Hill Fire Weather Factors Explaining What Led Up To The June 30, 2013, GMHS Fatalities? Part 3.


It is important to note that even though this was an Arizona State Forestry wildfire, both "investigations" were Federally-funded by the USFS and this was "factually" verified by two separate investigators, one from each of the two investigations. See Figure 14. below for USFS FOIA Request (FOIA 2019-FS-WO-04116-F) filed in May 2018. These diligent, virtuous ADOSH Investigators "borrowed" quite a lot from the SAIT-SAIR even though they were thwarted by the SAIT at almost every step of the way!


Reconsider now the two separate and distinct "investigations" from the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center (WF LLC) Two More Chains article titled "What's Up With Incident Reviews?" dated Winter 2014 Vol. 3 Issue 4. It's actually fairly comprehensive and progresses from the 1937 Blackwater Fire (WY-Shoshone NF) and ends with the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire (AZ - Private, State Forestry, and State Lands) while discussing the various investigative methods and outcomes, and the actual - or proposed - alleged "learning" and take-aways that are supposed to take place from those alleged "Learning Reviews."


A short SAIT-SAIR paragraph below and then on to the ADOSH report.


"2013 -Yarnell Hill Fire - 19 Firefighter Deaths"


 

“This report has two parts. Part One includes the fact-based Narrative of the incident and offers the Team’s Analysis, Conclusions, and Recommendations. Part Two, the Discussion section, is meant to prompt discussion and facilitate learning. It explores multiples concepts and

perspectives, in order to support the broader community seeking to make sense of the accident and to improve safety and resilience. ... The primary goal of this report is to facilitate learning from this tragedy, in order to reduce the likelihood of future accidents. ... [The SAIT-SAIR] does not identify causes in the traditional sense of pointing out errors, mistakes, and violations but approaches the accident from the perspective that risk is inherent in firefighting . . . In this report, the Team tries to minimize the common human trait of hindsight bias, which is often associated with traditional accident reviews and investigations . . . The Team finds no indication of negligence, reckless actions or violations of policy or protocol.” (pp. 4, 5, 46, and 60)

 

[Interestingly, the SAIT-SAIR boldly states on p. 46: "We challenge every wildland fire organization to identify issues and questions raised in this report that resonate within their organizations, and to initiate and facilitate ongoing discussions. ... [and] to continue the ongoing process of sensemaking." And so that is exactly what this author has been doing for the 'good of the cause' toward "complete lessons learned" albeit most often with mixed results, except for their alleged "Factual" part.]


Consider now the AZ Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) portion from their own report. All the ADOSH fuels, weather, topography, fire behavior, human factors, leadership, and safety excerpts will generally be copied and pasted verbatim, mostly in plain red text, and bolded when it specifically addresses one of the above topics.


This ADOSH report clearly acknowledged: "Although GMIHC successfully followed most of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES, this [Departure from Standard Practices] section discusses errors that were made by the [Granite Mountain IHC on the YH Fire]. ... The LCES checklist suggests that more than one escape route be available and that escape time and safety zone size requirements will change as fire behavior changes. ... There is no evidence that GMIHC had scouted and timed alternative escape routes or checked the escape route they used for loose soils, rocks or excessive vegetation. There is also no evidence that the crew had evaluated the escape time versus the potential rate of spread based upon the afternoon weather forecast." (ADOSH p. 41-42)


"A second error made by GMIHC is that they did not have a lookout when they made the descent to Boulder Springs Ranch [BSR]. ... Based upon interviews and incident documents, we could find no evidence that they requested a lookout as they traveled towards [the] BSR." (ADOSH p. 42)


"Finally, GMIHC had an obligation to notify their supervisor where they were moving and what route they would be traveling. The confusion that surrounded the search for the crew after the entrapment and burnover illustrates the importance of notifying the supervisor." (ADOSH p. 42)

 

This Part 3 post is where the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety (ADOSH) contracted with Wildland Fire Associates (WFA) and their report titled: "Granite Mountain IHC Entrapment and Burnover Investigation, Yarnell Hill Fire – June 30, 2013." The 2013 Wildfire Today link is once again utilized for the SAIT-SAIR. First off, within the WFA ADOSH report, the word "weather" generated 64 hits; the word "wind" generated 62 hits, and the word "outflow" generated 14 hits. In Part 1. this author focused on only key excerpts relative to the title, yet, in Part 2. this author found it necessary to branch out further. In Part 3. this author continues to branch out and uses a March 22, 2014, IM link, according to InvestigativeMEDIA (IM) Wants To Know The Truth (WTKTT) "The [WFA Report] never got much press ( or even much attention ). It has a narrative that reads a lot like the SAIR ( and, indeed, borrowed a lot of timeline verbatim from the SAIR ) … but it really was quite different from the SAIR." The current authors continue with that trend of branching out, however, the authors also give far more credence and trustworthiness to the more inquisitive and professional ADOSH investigation compared to the alleged bought-and-paid-for SAIT-SAIR, at a minimum, for these reasons:


Refreshingly, and thankfully, the ADOSH Investigation and Report actually compares and contrasts what the GMHS did and failed to do regarding the Fire Orders, Watch Outs. LCES, Rules of Engagement, etc. And in early September, the ADOSH team asked the two eyewitness hikers, (Joy A. Collura and Sonny Gilligan) to take them on the actual route that they hiked over that entire Friday to Sunday, June 28-30, 2013, weekend. And their route is basically the initial stages of the GMHS Memorial Trail route without admitting to that fact. The SAIT, on the other hand, merely did a phone interview in early August. The SAIT even denied certain individuals existed when factually seen and photographed by Collura. The one seen on the ridgetop on June 30, 2013, "around 0911" and wearing a full brim white hardhat (denoting a supervisor) and talking with GMHS / DIVS Marsh and Helitack Crewman Nate Peck, was appropriately nicknamed "Mystery Man" in our YHFR posts because of the SAIT's arrogant denial he was real.

 

See the Figure 2a. below for the "Mystery Man" photo image mentioned above from the Part 1 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?


It is important to shed light on the alleged GMHS mismanagement of their recurring safety deviations and the fatal decisions and outcome that followed. As noted by a senior NM HS Supt., during the October 2013 SW Area Hot Shot Crew AAR during the Integration Phase of a YH Fire and GMHS Deployment Zone Site Visit: "This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes, we saw this coming for years." [And this was reverberated and solidified with over a half-dozen others stating that they had attempted peer pressure over the years to correct the GMHS bad decisions to no avail.]

Figure 1. Snippet of Decisions and Outcomes matrix Source: Schoeffler

 

"This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of

bad decisions with good outcomes,

we saw this coming for years."

(Senior NM HS Supt. - SWA HS AAR October 2013)

 

At first sight, the contrast is farfetched, but once the picture is painted there are similarities that make it useful related to the June 30, 2013, YH Fire weather that needs to be addressed. It demonstrates the impact of their point of no return and covers the SAIT-SAIR fuels, weather, topography, fire behavior, and what USFS PNW Risk Management Officer Matt Holmstrom refers to as human topography, i.e. human factors in his excellent International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) paper. In addition, there is also the amazingly accurate, useful, and verified (RiP) Doug Campbell Prediction System (CPS) to "Learn from the Past, Predict the Future" and his equally useful CPS Wildfire Management Tool excerpts while dealing with the conventional wisdom of the "Alignment of Forces" ("The three forces usually associated with fire behavior are Weather, Topography and Fuel, AKA the fire triangle") should also include the causal, human factors, because the September 2013 SAIT-SAIR deception with their bogus predetermined conclusion mindset. You will find that they boldly and falsely state that the SAIT-SAIR is a "Factual and Management Report" per the Delegation of Authority (below). This author's comments will be in this format enclosed within [Bold black brackets and italicized texts - This author will often provide corrective and / or explanatory text as well.] Please note that abbreviations will be utilized as much as possible and occasional sentence sequence liberties in order to save space and improve readability.


[Consider this lengthy excerpt regarding the military concept and term "Friendly Fire" used as an appropriate analog for this discussion - “This conflict of evidence is so wide that one is left with no other conclusion than someone is lying as part of a coverup. ... The conflict of evidence ... indicates that a cloak of secrecy has been drawn over this particular incident. ... Certainly, the authorities have gone to some lengths to conceal details ... Nothing is gained by coverups except delay; the truth cannot be permanently suppressed. ... unprepared to release the full facts."] pp. (3-21) (all emphasis added) Regan, G. (1995) Blue on Blue. A History of Friendly Fire. Avon Books.


 

[Continuing with the ADOSH narrative] "TIMELINE


"This timeline includes details from the 2013 Arizona Fire Season Outlook, as well as events as they occurred on the Yarnell Hill Fire from ignition to the time of the entrapment and burnover.


"PRE 2013 FIRE SEASON ACTIVITIES


"On March 28, 2013, the Arizona Fire Season Outlook was released by the Arizona State Forestry Division (ASFD). The area of Yavapai County that includes Yarnell was listed as having high fire potential due to low live fuel moistures, and the county as a whole was predicted to see a moderate increase in fire potential compared to the 2012 fire season:


“The chaparral vegetation type on State lands around Prescott, Yarnell, Mayer, and Bagdad is expected to have a below average live fuel moisture that will lead to high fire potential. Many of the chaparral stands are older with a high dead/live ratio that may prove resistant to control efforts due to the low live fuel moistures. Seasonal new fine fuel growth has been delayed due to the dry winter & late seasonal moisture.”


“Temperatures and ground moistures have not started the green up/growth of seasonal grasses. Grass loading is expected to be average in the perennial grasslands areas in the 3000 to 5000 foot elevations

near Cordes Junction, Mayer, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Verde Valley, and Peeples Valley. Fire potential is predicted to be moderate to high in these areas." (Source: 2013 Arizona Fire Season Outlook, Arizona State Forestry Division, March 28, 2013. page 10)

 

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven:


Ecclesiastes3:1 (NKJV)

 

YARNELL HILL FIRE TIMELINE NARRATIVE (June 28, 2013)


On June 28 at approximately 1700 hours, the Yarnell Hill Fire was started by a lightning strike. The initial report was made to the Arizona Dispatch Center (ADC) at approximately1740by the volunteer fire department in Congress, Arizona (10 miles southwest of Yarnell, Arizona).


An ASFD Assistant Fire Management Officer (AFMO), who is also a qualified Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3), traveled to Yarnell to be closer to the location of multiple new fire starts that resulted from the lightning activity.


Land jurisdiction in the Yarnell area includes private land, Arizona State Lands Department (for which Arizona State Forestry has fire suppression responsibilities) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The AFMO met with the BLM Fuels Specialist to coordinate actions on fires on either jurisdiction.


The Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) for the Doce Fire was requested to fly over the area to size-up the Yarnell Hill Fire and look for any more fires started by lightning. The ATGS stated that the Yarnell Hill Fire was in a boulder field with no vehicle access. The initial assessment was that the fire was less than a half-acre, only active in one corner and did not pose a threat to structures or people.


Based upon the initial assessment, the inaccessibility of the fire and concerns about being able to adequately support firefighters overnight, the AFMO, who had become the initial attack Incident Commander (ICT4) at approximately 1940, decided to delay initial attack of the fire until the following morning. The ICT4 planned for suppression activities the following morning and ordered two Arizona Department of Corrections (DOC) crews, a Type 6 engine and a Type 3 helicopter.


The strategy for the fire was full suppression. The tactic for the next day was to use a helicopter to transport people to and from the fire. A spot weather forecast was received at 2207.


June 29, 2013


At 0651, the ICT4 requested that the Single Engine Air Tanker Base at Wickenberg Airport be opened so that two Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) could be used. The plan was to use fire retardant on the north and south sides of the fire, but leave the west and east flanks open. There was a two-track road on the east side of the fire.


In the morning, a BLM Representative took a flight to update the status of the fire. The Yarnell Hill Fire was estimated to be approximately eight acres with little fire activity. From this assessment, the ICT4 and BLM Representative jointly developed an initial attack plan to put six firefighters from the DOC Lewis Crew and one helitack crewmember on the fire using the helicopter for transportation. ICT4 also planned to remove the firefighters from the fire by 1530 due to lightning risk from afternoon storms.


At 1011, ICT4 requested a helicopter to shuttle crews. The SEATs arrived mid-morning and dropped fire retardant on the flanks of the fire, each SEAT making two retardant drops to hold the fire perimeter.


At 1100, a BLM helicopter transported seven firefighters to the top of the ridge. The one helitack and six DOC Lewis Crew firefighters hiked in the

rest of the way into the fire.


At approximately 1225, the ICT4 reported the fire size was about two acres. The ATGS reported that the fire retardant had secured the south and west flanks, and indicated that a ridge flanked the fire to the north and that a two-track road secured the eastern flank.


Figure 1a. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 1.photo on two-track road early on 6/3//13 during test-fire operations indicating benign fire behavior influenced by light wind.. Source: ADOSH (p. 7).



At 1442, the ICT4 released the ATGS and the SEATs because the fire was holding on all four sides and no other fires ignited the previous day were still burning. The original plan by ICT4 was to fly crews down off the fire by 1530.


At 1500, a weather alert for thunderstorms was issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).


However, the storms dissipated prior to reaching the Yarnell Hill Fire.

At 1540, the ICT4 released the BLM brush engine and a local Peeples Valley fire engine that were being held in the event any new fires from the lightning on June 28 appeared. During the afternoon, the temperature reached a high of 116°F (recorded in Phoenix, Arizona).


At 1600, weather conditions were hot and dry. Winds from the west-southwest increased which led to increased fire activity.


At 1610, the ICT4 requested two SEATs and the ATGS to return to the Yarnell Hill Fire. The ADC sent one SEAT but held the second aircraft so that it could be available for the Dean Peak Fire.


About 1630, the Yarnell Hill Fire jumped the two-track road on

the east side of the fire, despite lack of winds associated with

thunderstorm activity. ICT4 indicated to ADC that there were

concerns about containment, and at 1655 ordered a Type 1

Heavy Helitanker and a Large Airtanker (LAT).


Figure 2. Snippet of ADOSH insert regarding strategy & tactics Source: ADOSH (p. 8).


[Air support by either helicopters and/or air tankers MUST be reinforced with some type of constructed fireline in order to be effective. Otherwise it is a total waste of time, effort, and our precious tax dollars.The BRHS, in their mostly unredacted statements, admitted that retardant drops were very uncoordinated and chaotic, including a near miss between a Type One Helicopter and a VLAT. There is even a video clip of that near miss.]

At 1730, 13 firefighters were assigned to contain the fire that

had jumped the two-track road. The Yarnell Hill Fire was

estimated at six acres. At some point near this time, the ICT4

learned that the DOC Lewis Crew was out of chainsaw gas which seriously hindered their effectiveness in chaparral.


Near the time the fire jumped the two-track road, approximately

1730, the BLM representative who was a qualified ICT3 made

an inquiry to the ICT4 whether the ICT4 wanted the BLM

representative to “take over the fire.” The ICT4 declined the offer.

At 1742, additional requested air resources declined dispatch due to high winds and severe weather between their home base and the fire location. The ICT4 continued to use SEATs to drop fire retardant on the Yarnell Hill Fire.


Soon after 1743, dispatch offered a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) from Albuquerque in place of a heavy air tanker that could not respond due to weather. Based on discussion with ATGS and the local BLM representative, the ICT4 declined the VLAT offer.


Between 1730 and 1924, the fire behavior and complexity continued to escalate. Based upon his interview and dispatch logs, ICT4 communicated a request to ADC for an Incident Commander Type 3 (ICT3), and then changed it to a State of Arizona Incident Management Team (IMT2) with the intention of having them take over the fire on June 30. ICT4 voiced concerns about potential threats to Peeples Valley and Yarnell, Arizona, in the following 24 to 48 hours. In addition, two structure group specialists

were requested (one for the north end of the fire at Model Creek and Peeples Valley, and one for the south end of the fire at Yarnell and Glen Ilah). The ICT4 also requested three Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC). Three IHCs were assigned to the Yarnell Hill Fire: Blue Ridge IHC, Granite Mountain IHC, and Arroyo Grande IHC (who ultimately missed the assignment due to mechanical problems).

 

At 1924, the fire burned into chaparral to the north and northeast. Temperatures were above 100°F and relative humidity was 12%. Sustained winds of 10 miles per hour were reported with gusts up to 20 miles per hour out of the south and southwest. Estimated flame lengths were reported between 10 to 20 feet, and rate of spread was estimated at 5 to 10 chains per hour (1 chain = 66 feet.)


By 1938, the Yarnell Hill Fire was an estimated 100 acres. The fire was approximately one mile from structures in Peeples Valley and 2.5 miles from Yarnell, Arizona.

 

At 2200, the dispatch logs note that the ICT4 ordered additional resources including 14 engines, six water tenders, two Type 2 Hotshot Crews, two bulldozers, and numerous aircraft.


At approximately 2340, the Structure Protection Group 1 Supervisor (SPGS1) arrived. After a briefing from ICT4, SPGS1 was assigned to structure protection for Yarnell and began assessing infrastructure threats, including structures at risk, road networks and location of

safety zones, including Boulder Springs Ranch as well as other locations for structure protection personnel. The second Structure Protection Group 2 Supervisor (SPGS2) arrived late in the evening of June 29 and worked with SPGS1 and the ICT4 to order additional resources and start formulating a plan for June 30. SPGS2 described abnormally active fire behavior throughout the night. 13 firefighters remained on the fire.

Figure 3. Snippet of ADOSH insert regarding fire behavior and potential Source: ADOSH (p. 9).


June 30, 2013


On June 30, the ICT4, BLM Representative and SPGS1 met at 0100 to discuss using roads for indirect attack and the use of point protection strategy (a firefighting strategy that involves protecting specific points from the fire while not actively trying to line the entire fire’s edge (Footnote 2 ICS -09. p.2). [Indirect attack necessitates firing out the unburned fuel]


Between 0000-0400 minimum temperatures ranged from 70 to 80°F and maximum relative humidity ranged from 25 to 35%. [Bates paper below]


At 0300, the ICT4, SPGS1 and SPGS2 ordered additional resources.


Afterwards at 0330, the SPGS2 and ICT4 discussed the fire situation, very active fire behavior and probable outcomes for the strategy.


At 0700, a discussion between the ICT4, personnel from the previous shift, and incoming personnel occurred and continued as personnel moved to the Incident Command Post (ICP) at Model Creek School. The discussion included the incoming Incident Commander Type 2 (ICT2), two Operations

Section Chiefs (Planning OSC and Field OSC), SPGS1, a fire behavior analyst (FBAN), and deputies from the Yarnell County Sheriff’s Office. The Granite Mountain IHC (GMIHC) Superintendent, who had arrived prior to this meeting, listened in on much of the information sharing.


All personnel present were informed of the fire situation and tactics for June 30. The GMIHC Superintendent was assigned as the Alpha Division Supervisor (DIVS A), transferring leadership of the crew to the GMIHC Captain. The GMIHC were assigned to DIVS A with the task of establishing the anchor point at the heel of the fire, using direct and indirect attack.


After 0700 and before leaving for the ICP, the ICT2 informed everyone that the first priority was to have an air operations plan developed so that air resources could operate safely over the fire. ICT2 stated:


“ ... the second priority was that we had people at the school that were gathering and that there would be a briefing of those resources. And that none of us were to go anywhere including ICT4 until we got that briefing done at the school to give clear leader intent. (Footnote 3 ADOSH Interview with ICT2)


This briefing occurred at 0930. GMIHC was not at the 0930 briefing at the ICP because they had already been given their assignment and had departed for the fire. The ICT2 stated in an interview that, at that time, he was unaware that the GMIHC had not been at the 0930 briefing.


At approximately 0800, the GMIHC arrived at the ICP. DIVS A received an operational briefing from the Field OSC which included a safety briefing and weather forecast. The SPGS1 took them through Yarnell and they stopped along Sesame Street. They discussed the location of the safety zone at the Boulder Springs Ranch, and the SPGS1 reminded the DIVS A that the crew also had the previously burned black area as a safety zone. In addition, during their internal crew briefing, all GMIHC crewmembers were told the escape routes would be into the burned area or back to the crew carriers.


At 0854, a VLAT was ordered by ICT4. The Incident Command Post (ICP) was designated at the Model Creek School in Peeples Valley.


At 0900, the Blue Ridge Interagency Hotshot Crew (BRIHC) arrived at the ICP and received a briefing.

 

Saying yes creates an obligation.

Saying yes commits you to something.

The things we say yes to have a habit of growing.


Farnum Street. Brain Food. No. 501 — Dec. 4, 2022. The Hidden Cost of Yes

 

The SPGS1 took them through Yarnell and they stopped along Sesame Street. They discussed the location of the safety zone at the [BSR], and the SPGS1 reminded the DIVS A that the crew also had the previously burned black area as a safety zone. In addition, during their internal crew briefing, all GMIHC crewmembers were told the escape routes would be into the burned area or back to the crew carriers. (See Figure 14. below)

 

Figure 4. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 2.photo on two-track road early on 6/3//13 during test-fire operations indicating increasing fire behavior with increased flames and darker smoke influenced by light wind. Source: ADOSH (p. 10).


At 0930, the incoming ICT2 and overhead team members and firefighters were briefed by ICT4 at the ICP. Immediately after the briefing, the Planning OSC assigned several resources to Structure Protection Group 2 to protect homes. Sometime after the briefing, the Planning OSC directed the SPGS1 to assess structures in the Yarnell area. SPGS1 confirmed that most homes were indefensible with available resources.


The BRIHC was instructed by Field OSC to drive to the fire area and to meet with the SPGS1 on their way to the fire. Soon after, DIVS A contacted BRIHC to discuss the fire.


At approximately 0930, DIVS A was briefed over the radio by a helitack crewmember who had been on the fire overnight. Weather and fire behavior observations were relayed to DIVS A along with a fire size

estimate of 500 acres. DIVS A was at the top of the ridge near a helispot.

 

MYSTERY MAN

SAIT "You never saw that man, he doesn't exist"

Figure 5. Snippet of YHFR post Part 1 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? Figure 12. dated 12/12/19 PDF JPEG image of "Mystery Man" and GMHS / DIVS Marsh photo talking on ridgetop above the fire June 30, 2013, approx. 0915-1015 Source: Schoeffler, Honda, Collura

 

At 1000, during a reconnaissance flight, a helicopter crewmember saw the GMIHC. The crew was about 100 yards from the fire’s edge, heading for the burned area. By this time, the BRIHC had been assigned to connect their line with GMIHC’s line. [See Collura photo in Figure 7. below]


Figure 5a. Snippet of SAIT-SAIR Figure 5.photo of the GMHS on two-track road early morning on June 30, 2013, approaching the fire's edge Source: Joy A. Collura, SAIT-SAIR (p. 17).

 

At 1022, formal transfer of command from ICT4 to ICT2 was announced via radio.


Around 1030, the BRIHC parked their crew carriers next to the GMIHC carriers. The BRIHC Superintendent and Captain unloaded their utility task vehicle (UTV) and continued along Sesame Street. They encounter SPGS1 who requested a Heavy Equipment Boss (HEQB) to manage a dozer. The dozer was to clear out the two-track road on both sides as far as possible to provide access and prepare for a possible burnout. BRIHC

assigned one of their squad leaders, a qualified HEQB, to help.


The BRIHC Superintendent and Captain scouted the fire edge while the HEQB took the dozer as far as an old abandoned grader to push a clear area around it. HEQB turned in the direction of the saddle near GMIHC’s anchor point, then planned to turn around and clear out the two-track road between Sesame Street and Shrine Road. During these operations, the remaining crewmembers of the BRIHC stayed with the crew carriers.


Figure 6. Snippet of ADOSH insert regarding increasing early morning extreme fire behavior, winds, and potential Source: ADOSH (p. 11).

 

Consider now the solid research and fire behavior indicators by former TNF PRD District Ranger Robert Bates' (1960) NWCG paper "A Key to Blow-up Conditions in the Southwest?" He postulated that nighttime temperatures above 7°C (45°F) portend critical condition potential; and when they rise above 10°C (50°F) blow-up condition potential will exist. He established these temperature thresholds (81°F (27°C) in the semi-deserts and 11°C (52°F) in the pines) from his analysis of wildland fires in the Southwest. He concluded that the day following the highest nighttime temperature generally revealed the most extreme fire behavior. From experience and research, This author has found this principle to be accurate nationally except for the Southeastern Region due to the usually associated high relative humidity values. This author gives this method high credence and uses the midnight to 0800 high nighttime temperatures based on current and/or archived (RAWS) Remote Access Weather data. Sources: Large wildfire growth and dry slots in the United States (Fred Schoeffler COF) Proceedings of 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference, February 18–22, 2013, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA. Published by the International Association of Wildland Fire, Missoula, Montana, USA (pp. 254-280); Fire Management Today (Vol. 63, No. 3, Summer 2003. pp. 68-71)

 

The day following the highest nighttime temperature generally revealed the most extreme fire behavior.

 

At 1030, the SPGS2 described the head of the fire as a 1.5-mile line of fire at the north end towards Peeples Valley.


At 1045, the Yarnell County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation notices to the residents of Model Creek and the Double Bar A Ranch.


At 1100, the fire front in the basin was moving to the northeast. The tactics were to continue to use SEATs at the heel of fire. Fire activity continued to increase as the day got warmer and drier. Cumulus clouds built up to the north. Planning OSC contacted DIVS A via radio to determine if DIVS A could see the cloud formations. DIVS A indicated that he could see the clouds and would keep an eye on the weather.


By this time, the BRIHC Superintendent and Captain reached the old grader and were able to see GMIHC working on the east side of the ridge, slowly burning off the two-track road. Over the radio, the BRIHC Superintendent and Captain noted that the GMIHC was trying to get the fireline connected with the two-track road so the fire could not burn back up the ridge.


Based on the escalating fire danger, the ICT2 informed the State of Arizona FMO that the Yarnell Hill Fire needed a full IMT2.


At 1130, fire behavior became much more active. Fire personnel became engaged in structure protection.


Between 1130 and 1145, the GMIHC conducted burnout operations, and DIVS A and ATGS discussed tactical options. ATGS directed two SEAT drops at 1136 and 1145 directly onto the burnout operations.


DIVS A indicated via radio that the drops were not what he wanted. As a result of the drops, GMIHC shifted tactics from building indirect line to going direct along the fire edge. During this same period, a short squad of the GMIHC moved to the west side of the ridge and tied into the burned area and steep rocky terrain. DIVS A considered this connection a good anchor point.


At 1154, after driving the two-track road on a UTV, the BRIHC superintendent and Captain met DIVS A and the GMIHC Captain at the anchor point. Over the next half hour, they discussed tactics and agreed

to use a GMIHC crewmember as a lookout (GM Lookout). The GM Lookout identified a lookout spot down near the old grader at the bottom of the slope, and the GMIHC Captain agreed it would be a good vantage point. DIVS A and the GMIHC Captain discussed communication problems which included inappropriate tone guards on some radios with the BRIHC Superintendent and Captain.

 

Between 1200–1230, a weak southwest-northeast frontal boundary developed west of the fire locations.

 

Figure 7. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 3.Photo taken by a GMHS member on two-track road

early on June 30, 2013 during retardant drop on their burn out operations. Source: ADOSH (p. 12).


At 1204, ICT2 held a quick meeting with Command and General Staff, during which a VLAT was dropping retardant on the fire. On top of the ridge, the short squad of the GMIHC rejoined their crew on the east side of the ridge near the anchor point.


At 1210, Division Supervisor Zulu (DIVS Z) arrived at the BRIHC crew carriers and called DIVS A to discuss a division break and resource assignments. DIVS Z also had radio problems, so he used a BRIHC crew radio to talk with DIVS A over the Blue Ridge intra-crew frequency. DIVS A and DIVS Z could not agree on the division break location or associated supervisory responsibilities.


At 1227, the BRIHC Superintendent and Captain left the top of the ridge and brought the GM Lookout down to the old grader site and drop him

off to be a lookout for BRIHC and GMIHC. The BRIHC Superintendent and Captain continued to drive roads looking for a way to connect the

planned suppression action.


At 1230, radio communication frequency changed to Tactical Frequency 3 (TAC3) due to increased communication from SPGS2.


At 1239, the GM Lookout was dropped off at the old grader. After hiking to the lookout spot (roughly 120 yards north of the old grader), both DIVS A and the GM Lookout confirmed they had a good view of each other and the fire edge. At this time, the head of the fire had pushed north toward structures in Peeples Valley. The fire was also backing towards the GMIHC location. Drainages were located between the crew and the fire. The crew

anticipated the fire would become more active around mid-afternoon, and expected no additional support because the focus of aircraft and firefighters was at the head of the fire on the north end.


Consequently, the GMIHC planned to construct line directly along the fire edge. When GMIHC reached a rock face they stopped to eat lunch. After lunch, the crew worked their way back, reinforcing their line as they went, ensuring they had a good anchor point.


For lookouts, they had DIVS A on a knob, GM Lookout down by the grader and GMIHC Captain near the anchor or in the immediate vicinity of the crew. Each of these individuals had been looking out for the other two lookouts, the crew and the fire. In the event the fire changed direction, the GM Lookout had geographic trigger points established for the crew and for himself. The crew had on-going contact with the BRIHC, SPGS1, and Planning OSC and talked among themselves about the incoming

thunderstorms. They also contacted air resources and adjoining forces as needed.


Figure 8. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 4. Photo taken by a GMHS Crew member on two-track

road on June 30, 2013, indicating ready to go with fireline packs on. Note rolled-up sleeves, i.e.indicating Normalization of Deviance. Source. ADOSH (p. 13).

 

At 1300, the weak southwest-northeast frontal boundary sharpened and slowly moved over the fire area.

 

The ASFD District Forester and the ICT2 developed a complexity analysis. Based upon this analysis, the ICT2 recommended ordering a full Type 2 IMT. However, the District Forester and the State FMO changed the recommendation to a Type 1 IMT and placed the order through ADC.


By 1330, the fire had advanced towards the ICP and forced personnel to move vehicles to keep them from being burned.

 

At 1402, the FBAN received a weather update from the NWS. The FBAN was informed that thunderstorms were predicted to occur east of the fire and might produce wind gusts up to 35 to 45 miles per hour with winds out of the northeast.

 

This information was relayed to Planning OSC and Field OSC via Tactical Frequency 1 (TAC1).


At 1420, the resources assigned to Structure Protection Group 2 located north of the fire retreated due to the fire near the Double Bar A Ranch.

At1447, the second Aerial Supervision Module (ASM2) arrived to relieve ASM1. After a 10 minute briefing, ASM2 met an arriving VLAT and supported structure protection north of the fire. However, fire conditions changed which shifted priorities towards Yarnell. The ATGS was still on scene overhead.


At 1500, the outflow boundary originated from thunderstorms to the northeast of the fire area.


At 1526, the FBAN received an update from the NWS. North to northeast winds of up to 40 and 50 miles per hour were now expected from the thunderstorm outflows. This information was relayed to Planning OSC and Field OSC via TAC1.


 

At 1500, the outflow boundary originated from thunderstorms to the northeast of the fire area.



At 1530, winds changed course by 90° to the south-southwest. There was approximately three miles of an active flaming front. Between 1530 and 1545, Planning OSC and DIVS A discussed the thunderstorm cells both to the north and south of the fire. Also at this time, the wind picked up and shifted direction from the southwest to the west-northwest. There was spotting and heavy ash fell onto fire personnel working in the youth camp area. The two-mile flanking fire started to look like a head fire and was moving to the southeast.

 

At 1540, the fire reached the first geographic trigger point for SPGS1 and an evacuation of the city of Yarnell was requested. DIVS A called Planning OSC and communicated that the retardant line and dozer lines were compromised but that GMIHC was in the burned area.


Figure 9. Snippet of ADOSH SPGS2 interview regarding outflow winds Source: ADOSH (p. 14 )


At 1545, the SPGS1 met up with Field OSC. The Field OSC called

ASM2, indicating that the winds were getting erratic and

requested that ASM2 check on the GMIHC when they got a

chance.


At 1550, several communications occurred at or near the same

time. Field OSC called DIVS A by radio to make sure that DIVS A

was aware of the latest weather update. DIVS A confirmed the

update and noted that the winds were getting “squirrely” on the

ridge. DIVS A informed Field OSC that GMIHC moving off the top.

At around the same time, the ATGS informs DIVS A that the fire was headed toward Yarnell and could reach the town in one to two hours. In addition, the GMIHC’s crew carriers were in the path of the fire.

DIVS A acknowledged this information and planned to address the problem. [This was a clear example of the GMHS Normalization of Deviance! - and in fact - the THIRD time someone else had to "save" the GMHS Crew Carriers! First time - Sunflower Fire (AZ TNF-2001), second time - Holloway Fire (aka "Nevada Fire - NV & OR BLM 2012) Watch the Vimeo video in Figure 12a. below. ("We saved the GMHS buggies from burning up") go to this 2013 Vimeo video by Colby Drake (2:40 to 3:25 timeframe). When the helmet cam video pans to the left, in the upper left of the frame, freeze-framing the video will reveal a black hardhat GMHS running down the handline toward their Crew Carriers. This was the second time someone else "saved" the GMHS Crew Carriers.]


Figure 10. Snippet of June 30, 2013, 3:36 PM (1536) aggressive fire behavior with GMHS Crew Carriers in an unburned opening (bottom left) Source: Kurt Florman

Figure 11. Holloway Fire (NV & OR) 2013 Vimeo video by Engine Boss Colby Drake showing this Contract Engine Crew "saving" the GMHS Crew Carriers Source: Vimeo, YouTube

 

At about 1550, the GM Lookout was taking weather observations when the GMIHC Captain called to relay the weather update. GM Lookout acknowledged the message and continued to take weather

observations. By the time the GM Lookout completed the weather observations and scanned the surroundings as well as the crew location, the fire had started building and the wind was beginning to shift. GM Lookout recognized the fire had hit the first trigger point established for his safety. After informing the GMIHC Captain, GM Lookout moved towards the open area at the old grader. The GMIHC Captain received the information relatively calmly.

 

InvestigativeMEDIA photo link of AZ State Forestry DropBox of GMHS alleged "lookout" McDonough photos and videos "Brendan McDonough took these photos on June 30, 2013. He provided them to the Accident investigation Team." (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/mmb98r3j53s2urp/AAByKsspNPJQ24ujuVzMxjf9a)

 

As the GM Lookout hiked toward the grader, he noted the options open to himself including an alternate lookout spot further up the road, a possible shelter deployment site near the grader, and a little clearing just down from his original lookout spot where he could deploy his fire shelter if needed. The BRIHC Superintendent was driving back to meet DIVS A for a face-to-face meeting. He met with the GM Lookout as he reached the grader. [This was a completely unplanned event]

 



 

The BRIHC Superintendent and Captain picked up GM Lookout with their UTV, and called GMIHC on the radio. GMIHC informed BRIHC Superintendent and Captain that they had good visibility, they were

in the burned area and they were assessing their situation. As GM Lookout departed the lookout spot, he believed the GMIHC was in the black and were watching the fire and that DIVS A was scouting 4 (ADOSH Interview with GM Lookout.)


Between 1550 and 1554, some GMIHC crewmembers took photos of the fire and sent text messages to family members about the fire.


At 1555, fire was burning along the ridge north of Yarnell. The SPGS1 lost use of an air-to-ground radio frequency, and communication was interrupted. The BRIHC Superintendent dropped the GM Lookout

off at the GMIHC Superintendents truck. The GMIHC crew carriers were moved. On the GMIHC intra-crew frequency, GM Lookout heard the DIVS A and GMIHC Captain discussing the options of whether to stay in the black or to move (5. ADOSH Interview with GM Lookout). ["On his way down to [the] old grader [he] looks at a spot that he might use as a deployment site to his right [and] decides its to (sic) small and continues to [the] area of [the] old grader"]


Figure 12 Snippet of SAIT GMHS alleged "lookout" McDonough interview regarding fire weather update from GMHS Steed, spot wx forecast, trigger point, and BRHS interactions Source: SAIT, IM

Figure 12a. Snippet of SAIT GMHS alleged "lookout" McDonough interview regarding fire weather update from GMHS Steed, spot wx forecast, trigger point, and BRHS interactions Source: SAIT, IM


At 1558, ATGS abruptly leaves the fire and goes to Deer Valley. He turned air tactical operations over to ASM2 who was busy dealing with lead plane duties at the time. ASM2 got a very brief update from ATGS that did not include division breaks locations and the location of the on-the-ground firefighters 6. (ADOSH Interview with ASM2.


ASM2 had been ordered as a lead plane because ATGS functions were covered.


At 1600, the fire reached Yarnell, Arizona and evacuations were underway. About this time, the ASM2 overhears radio communication referring to a safety zone. ASM2 contacted Field OSC to clarify the exchange. Planning OSC confirmed that the GMIHC was in “a good place,” in the burned area. ASM2 was asked to check on the crew, but it was not an urgent request. Soon after, ASM2 communicated directly with DIVS A. DIVS A informed ASM2 that they were moving and indicated that everything was okay.


Figure 13.. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 5. of Matt Oss June 30, 2013, fire behavior time-lapse video Source: Matt Oss, ADOSH


At 1604, a GMIHC crewmember sent a photo of the fire to family members with a text message about the fire. [See the GMHS Wade Parker June 30, 2013, 4:04 PM photo below in Figure ? below with the original SAIT comments retained except that the "town on the right" portion is conspicuously missing from the photo: "4:04 This thing is runnin straight for yarnel jus starting evac. You can see fire on left town on the right."]

Figure 14. GMHS Wade Parker June 30, 2013, 4:04 PM photo. "This message was at 4:04 This thing is runnin straight for yarnel jus starting evac. You can see fire on left town on the right." Source: GMHS Parker, SAIT, IM.



Figure 14a. GMHS observing YH Fire below them on June 30, 2013 Source: Denver Post (2017)


At 1618, the outflow boundary neared the northern end of fire area moving at 16 miles per hour.


At 1620, thunder was heard by fire personnel near Yarnell.


At 1622, the fire had reached the second geographic trigger point and firefighters in the Shrine area started moving out of the area towards Highway 89. The BRIHC had left the fire area and attempted to contact the SPGS1 to affirm that the rest of the firefighters were out of the fire area.

At 1624, Dopplar radar showed a fire plume at a height of approximately 31,500 feet that grew to 38,700 feet by 1633.


At 1630, the outflow boundary moved across the southern end of fire. Also at this time, firing operations are completed in the Peeples Valley area. The wind changed direction and fire activity diminished in this area.


Figure 14b. Snippet of ADOSH Figure 6. of Matt Oss June 30, 2013, fire behavior time-lapse video Source: Matt Oss, ADOSH

At 1634, the outflow boundary crested the ridge for the first time in the direction of Yarnell (Figure 5., previous page).

At 1637, ASM2 flew a drop path for a VLAT north of Yarnell from west to east. This drop went over DIVS A location at the time. DIVS A communicated with ASM2 confirming the drop path. ASM2 circled the south end of the fire above Yarnell to line up a final flight path for a tanker drop. [

At 1639, ASM2 was in the middle of a discussion with Field OCS on the air-to-ground frequency when an over-modulated and static-filled transmission came over the air-to-ground frequency. More broken communication was exchanged and due to poor reception, ASM2 could only understand fragments.

The rapid advance of the fire toward Yarnell had generated much radio traffic about structure protection. ASM2 assumed the broken and unclear transmission was one of the structure protection units calling to request a retardant drop. ASM2 did not suspect it was GMIHC since they had been in a safe area when he talked to them earlier.

By 1640, the last firefighters, with the exception of the GMIHC, reached Highway 89 and confirmed on TAC1 with SPGS1 that they were safe. At approximately the same time, SPGS1 directed ASM2 to drop retardant at his discretion to stop the fire from reaching Yarnell.

At 1642, the outflow boundary crested the ridge for the second time (Figure 6).

Between 1640 and 1642, the final communication occurred between GMIHC, the ASM2, and Field OSC. The exchange affirmed that GMIHC needed air support.

Field OSC released ASM2 from structure suppression to help GMIHC. ASM2 contacted DIVS A to request their location.

DIVS A informed ASM2 that their escape route had been cut off and that they were preparing a deployment site. They were burning out the brush around them. ASM2 asked if they were on the south side of the fire and DIVS A affirmed that location. That was the last communication with DIVS A.

Soon after 1642, the GMIHC deployed their fire shelters and were overrun by the Yarnell Hill Fire.


[Consider this image "Between 1600 and 1630, the fire has moved further east and crossed the retardant line and dozer line as it moves toward Yarnell (Figure 11)." (WFA p. 25) Then compare and contrast it with the complete wind reversal due to the outflow winds and the three alleged Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor firing operations that occurred and resulted in the fire behavior progression image shown in Figure 2. below.]

Figure 15. Snippet of WFA Figure 11. YH Fire outlined in yellow. Red lines indicate fire growth and path, the black line represents aerial suppression efforts. The deployment site is labeled and marked with a red triangle. Winds are shown from the west-southwest at 25 miles per hour. Source: SAIT-SAIR


[Consider this image after the strong outflow winds have shifted from the North "By 1650, the model shows it past the deployment site and the Boulder Ranch and entering Yarnell (Figure 12)." (WFA p. 26)]

Figure 15a. Snippet of WFA image 12. YH Fire in purple. Red lines indicate fire growth and path, and the black line represents aerial suppression efforts. The deployment site marked with a red triangle. Winds are from the north-northeast at 45 miles per hour. Source: SAIT-SAIR, WFA


Consider now the Snippet photo images (below) in Figure 2.a of GMHS - DIVS Eric Marsh (red hardhat) hiking one of the two-track roads on June 30, 2013, between 0830-0900 (upper right). And then Marsh talking with "Mystery Man" wearing a white full-brim hardhat, usually denoting a supervisor, on the ridgetop above the fire (two left photo images). The Moki Helitack Crewman Nate Peck stated that "he spoke with authority."


So then, it is fair to ask two questions (1) Who is "Mystery Man" and (2) "How did "Mystery Man" and his short time conversing with GMHS Marsh influence the final outcome on June 30, 2013? Ponder this, you would never have known "Mystery Man" existed except for Joy A. Collura's photo.


Figure 16. PDF JPEG of "Mystery Man"and GMHS Eric Marsh photos Snippet from "Part 1 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?" Figure 12. YHFR post . Source: Schoeffler, Collura, Honda

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

 

Consider now the genesis of what would eventually would become the basic Rules of Engagement and Entrapment Avoidance principles, saving lives.

Figure 17. Snippet of Ten Standard Fire Orders 1957 Task Force genesis and historical wildfire fatalities Source: NWCG

 

Consider now the continuing ADOSH examination of the YH Fire and GMHS debacle discussion:



Departure from Standard Practices

ADOSH p. 39

"In determining the standards that guide professionals in the field of wildland fire management, we identified the 2013 Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book) and Wildland Fire Incident Management Field Guide (PMS 210) as established industry standards. We also referred to Arizona Revised Statues and City of

Prescott guiding documents as needed. In addition to these resources, we also used the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES. Through our

interview process, a clear picture emerged that ground-level firefighters treat the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES as rules and upper

level managers tend to treat the Orders as guidelines. As a result of our observations, we have chosen to treat the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES as rules because they should have guided the actions of GMIHC on June 30, [2013]."

 

Through our interview process, a clear picture emerged that ground-level firefighters treat the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES as rules and upper level managers tend to treat the Orders as guidelines.


As a result of our observations, we have chosen to treat the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES as rules because they should have guided the actions of GMIHC on June 30, [2013].


[These are significantly accurate and cogent conclusions most often lost in the "incomplete lessons learned" that are so often merely bandied about without meaningful emphasis on the import of their instructive content]

 

Consider now the necessary and most welcome ADOSH breakdown of the Ten Standard Fire Orders (quoted from pp. 39-41) in contrast to the SAIT-SAIR and its total disregard for them. This was explicit in their bogus "Conclusion" of the GMHS doing everything right in spite of 19 Prescott FD GMHS dying in one fell swoop.


And the two June 30, 2013, late afternoon photo images (1629 & 1631 respectively), indicate progressively deteriorating fire weather and progressively increasing aggressive fire behavior images in Figure 5. and Figure 5a. Using Google Earth overlays indicates GPS site-specific GMHS locations, movements, etc. researched and created by the highly skilled and talented InvestigativeMEDIA WantsToKnowTheTruth (WTKTT).


Unbelievably, disregarding having a premier vantage point in the safe black, these men left their Safety Zone and hiked downhill right into these aggressive uphill fire behavior runs. They fecklessly attempted to construct a Deployment Zone and fire it out. Constructing Safety Zones by hand using chainsaws, especially in chaparral, is never a good idea because of time and then dealing with all the slash. Another reason why Helispots make poor Safety Zones. You make Safety Zones with bulldozers and heavy equipment. And then you fire them out long before the fire approaches, not mere minutes!


Unfortunately, they were eventually burned over and perished as the result of one of at least three alleged "Friendly Fire" firing operations in the Sesame Street and Shrine Corridor, Boulder Springs Ranch (BSR), and Model Creek spur roads. They were ostensibly headed to the BSR to "save it" in spite of it being labeled a "Bomb Proof Safety Zone" at the morning briefing. Tragically, and beyond comprehension, the GMHS went from a Safety Zone in the black, to a Deployment Zone in the unburned green, to an eventual moon-scaped Fatality Site in a deadly bowl - in spite of feckless PFD Battalion Chief pleas to the contrary at a July 24, 2013, News Conference!

 

There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 14:112 (NKJV)

 

Figure 18. PDF JPEG photo images of YH Fire on June 30, 2013, 1629 (4:29 PM) by Brian Lauber (ASF) from near the Ranch House restaurant along Hwy. 89, indicating very aggressive fire behavior from the north. The image contains Google Earth overlay of the GMHS MacKenzie video & photo spot, GMHS final rest spot, and GMHS departure point from their Safety Zone, turned Deployment / Fatality Site Source: Lauber, Google Earth, WTKTT


Figure 18a. 1631 (4:31 PM)photo image two minutes after Figure 5. photo also exhibits very aggressive fire behavior from the north with the GMHS Deployment Zone behind and below the rocky ridge indicated by the vertical RED line. Source: ABC News, Google Earth, WTKTT

 

Consider now three videos: (1) New videos released from deadly Yarnell Hill Fire from the acclaimed "Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) ... a global professional membership body for those in the fire sector that seek to increase their knowledge, professional recognition and understanding of fire through a global discourse. With over 100 years of history, the IFE is instrumental in shaping a future world that is safer from fire. ..." (2) PFD BC Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 1, and (3) PFD BC Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 2 from IM John Dougherty, YouTube.


New videos released from deadly Yarnell Hill Fire - unable to post as a stand-alone video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7UVL8pxSBJc)


Figure 19. Snippet of TNF E-49 firing operation along Model Creek spur roads Source: IFE, YouTube

Figure 20. PFD BC Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 1 Source: Dougherty, YouTube


Figure 20a. PFD BC Darrell Willis at GMHS Deployment Site Pt 2 Source: Dougherty, YouTube


And to complement these two PFD YHF and GMHS DZ videos consider this Otter PDF written version of these two videos titled: "What Fatality and "Prescott Way" Causal Factors Does PFD Wildland BC Willis Reveal in the July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference? YHFR Sept. 11, 2022

 

"I believe there were circumstances that occurred and decisions that were made that we do not have facts on that contributed to their deaths," Chief Willis told ABC News. "We will never know what they were thinking or their decision process." Deaths of [GMHS] Expose Fight Over Airtankers - Ariz. probe finds one airtanker over fire as rescuers searched for lost crew. James Gordon Meek Sept. 30, 2013, ABC News


[On the contrary Mr. Willis, as the former GMHS supervisor, you stated"... there [are, in fact,] circumstances that occurred and decisions that were made that we do ... have facts on that contributed to their deaths." and "We will ... know what they were thinking [and] their decision process." Because you provided them, in part, in your July 2013, GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference YouTube video and our Sept. 11, 2022, YHFR post on the written PDF version of the same news conference. What they were thinking was readily evident when they left the safe black at the worst possible time during deteriorating weather conditions and increasingly aggressive fire behavior clearly evident below them as evident in Figures 5. and 5a. above. And their decision process was clearly faulty based on several human factors, human errors, human failures, and several psychological catalysts listed in our YHFR post below and Dörmer's literature and research. You and the rest of the Naysayers, Deniers, Kool-Aid Drinkers, and such choose to avoid seeking the truth. The evidence is there if you want to find it and want to know.]

 

Social traps are negative situations where people, organizations, or societies get caught in a direction or relationship that later prove to be unpleasant or lethal and they see no easy way to back out of or avoid.


(Platt, J. Social Traps, American Psychologist, 1973, 28, 641-651)

 

Part 1 of 2 - Why Were Vital Human Factors Influencing the June 30, 2013, YH Fire GMHS Fatalities Never Revealed? (May 24, 2021)

Part 2 of 2 - Why Were Vital Human Factors Influencing the June 30, 2013, YH Fire GMHS Fatalities Never Revealed? (May 23, 2021)


And German psychologist and researcher Dietrich Dörmer's Logic of Failure literature summation is an excellent research resource!

 

Continuing below with the ADOSH examination of the IRPG Ten Standard Fire Orders and 18 Watch Out Situations, related to their YH Fire and GMHS debacle discussion (pp. 39-41) this image will aptly assist the reader.

Figure 21. Snippet of IRPG Ten Standard Fire orders and 18 Watch Out Situations Source: IRPG



"10 STANDARD FIREFIGHTING ORDERS


"We have applied the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders to the Yarnell Hill Fire (may require reviewing the Acronyms on pp. 3-4):


1. Keep informed on fire-weather conditions and forecasts.


Planning OSC briefed GMIHC on fire weather conditions and forecasts at the Yarnell Fire Department during the morning of June 30. The crew was later informed twice over the radio about weather warnings from the National Weather Service concerning approaching thunderstorms with

associated strong winds.


2. Know what your fire is doing at all times.


GMIHC was positioned on a ridgeline that had an unobstructed view of the fire movement and intensity. The crew had a lookout posted for much of the day. Their lookout eventually had to move because the fire reached pre-established trigger points that meant that he was in danger from the fire. GMIHC no longer had a lookout after their lookout evacuated his position. ATGS was in the air above the fire when GMIHC decided to change locations; however the crew did not ask ATGS to serve as their lookout.


3. Base all actions on current and expected behavior of the fire.


GMIHC based their actions on the fire behavior they had observed for several hours.


4. Identify escape routes and safety zones, and make them known.


GMIHC had identified their vehicles and the Boulder Springs Ranch as good safety zones. The Ranch site was large and well-constructed, with wildfire in mind. The site withstood the flames of the Yarnell Hill Fire as it burned around the Ranch. The buildings sustained very little damage and the owners stayed in the main house as the flaming front passed. Granite Mountain had several escape routes to select from. We could find no evidence that they timed or improved the escape route to Boulder Springs

Ranch.


5. Post lookouts whenever there is possible danger.


GMIHC posted a lookout when they were building direct handline. However, GMIHC did not have a lookout posted during their descent to the safety zone. The lookout had left his post because trigger points used to ensure his safety had been breached. During the critical period when GMIHC was traveling to the safety zone, the lookout was moving the crew vehicles to a safer location as requested by his supervisor. Based on interviews, we found no evidence that GMIHC requested that ATGS or

anyone else in a position to see the crew’s location, watch the fire for them as they traveled to Boulder Springs Ranch.


6.Be alert. Keep calm. Think clearly. Act decisively.


Evidence shows that even up to and including their last radio transmission, DIVS A and GMIHC were alert, unimaginably calm, thinking clearly, and taking decisive actions.


7. Maintain prompt communications with your forces, your supervisor, and adjoining forces.


GMIHC maintained communications with everyone on their crew and division. DIVS A had some difficulty maintaining communication with Planning OSC. GMIHC did not notify their supervisor that they planned to move to an alternate safety zone. Planning OSC ineffectively communicated the tactics to be used for the day with all of his forces. There is evidence that the aerial resources did not understand tactics being used by forces on the ground. There is also evidence that DIVS A and DIVS Z could not agree where the division break should be placed.


8. Give clear instructions and insure that they are understood.


ASFD failed to:


PROVIDE A WFSA OR WFDSS DOCUMENT AND RATIONALE FOR SELECTING ITS SUPPRESSION ALTERNATIVE TO THE IMT2;

 PROVIDE THE IMT2 WITH CLEAR WRITTEN DIRECTION IN THE FORM OF A DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY LETTER, WHICH IS CONSIDERED TO BE MARCHING ORDERS BY INCIDENT COMMANDERS;

 THE PLANNING OSC DID NOT GET AVIATION RESOURCES AND GROUND RESOURCES ON THE SAME TACTICAL PLAN. GMIHC WAS ATTEMPTING TO BURN OUT FIRELINE AND ATGS ORDERS TWO RETARDANT DROPS ON THEIR BURNOUT. SIMILARLY, THE STRUCTURE PROTECTION GROUP WAS USING A DOZER TO CONSTRUCT CONTINGENCY LINE NEAR YARNELL, BUT THE AVIATION RESOURCES CHOOSE TO DROP RETARDANT ON A SIMILAR VECTOR CLOSE TO THE DOZER LINE. AIR RESOURCES MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO

REINFORCE THE DOZER LINE WITH RETARDANT BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT PROPERLY COORDINATED WITH THE STRUCTURE PROTECTION GROUP.


[This author, unsure why ADOSH only capitalized this section, asked one of the ADOSH Investigators. He revealed to this author that the AZ SF District Forester (David Geyer) was asked to provide who it was that completed the Wildland Fire Situation Analysis (WFSA) and the Wildland Fire Decision Support System (WFDSS) for the YH Fire IMT.


The ADOSH source stated that DF Geyer was very reluctant to answer the question(s), and stated he "had to go to the bathroom" and was "gone for an inordinate amount of time." During the fire, Geyer kept trying to pawn of HIS District Forester responsibility to complete those requested and required documents to others like the initial Type 4 IMT, the Type 3 Organization,and even IC Roy Hall. Conveniently and interestingly, when he returned from his extended "bathroom" break he had an answer. But was it the answer? Who did he call to find out what "they" wanted - or needed - him to do or say?]


According to a 2005 USDA USFS Scientific Journal titled "Prediction errors in wildland fire situation analyses"- Wildfires consume budgets and put the heat on fire managers to justify and control suppression costs. To determine the appropriate suppression strategy, land managers must conduct a wildland fire situation analysis (WFSA) when: [1] A wildland fire is expected to or does escape initial attack, [2] A wildland fire managed for resource benefits exceeds prescription parameters, or [3] A prescribed fire exceeds its prescription and is declared a wildfire. On large wildfires, land managers sometimes conduct five or more WFSAs."] Donovan, Geoffrey H.; Noordijk, Peter.; Scientific Journal (JRNL) Fire Mgmt. Today. 65 (2): 25-27)


[That was eight years BEFORE the deadly June 2013 YH Fire. Check out these WFDSS Support and @WFDSS Support Videos back in the 2013 timeframe nine and ten years ago, including "this second video" from the alleged Mr. SAIT Cover-up and Whitewash himself - Tom Zimmerman. And NO "first video" to be found anywhere on the WFDSS Support video series from none-other than our all-time favorite hypocritical WLF LLC!


Interestingly, the ONLY WFSA and WFDSS post-YH Fire (January and February 2013) updates coincidentally or intentionally noted in August: "Last updated on 8/26/2013 1:34:39 PM. incident objectives. Site specific guidance and direction necessary for the selection of appropriate strategy(s) and the tactical direction of resources. Incident objectives are based upon agency administrators direction and constraints. Incident objectives must be measurable, yet flexible enough to allow for strategic and tactical alternatives." And there was only one update in 2014]


9. Maintain control of your forces at all times.


GMIHC died together in a very small space. No one ran. This is a testament to the exceptional leadership abilities of GMIHC Superintendent and Captain.


10. Fight Fire Aggressively, having provided for Safety First


ASFD had a strategy of full suppression using the tactic of direct attack. When the tactic failed, the managers of the fire did not reassess the strategy or tactics. A reassessment should have resulted in GMIHC moving to an area of the fire where they would have been safe and could be used effectively.


Although GMIHC successfully followed most of the 10 Standard Firefighting Orders and LCES, this section discusses the errors that were made by the crew."


Figure 22. Snippet of LCES, Fire Orders, Watch Out Situations text box Source: WFA


"The LCES checklist suggests that more than one escape route be available and that escape time and safety zone size requirements will change as fire behavior changes. GMIHC initially had multiple escape routes, including the ability to walk back to their vehicles (an option that was closed off when the vehicles were moved to safety). A second escape route was to travel south along the ridge towards the Boulder Springs Ranch and turn east at the descent point. However, this escape route had not been scouted, timed, marked or improved. At the descent point, they had a third option of turning to the west, escaping over the ridge and down to Highway 89 on the Congress side of the mountain. A fourth option would have been to continue along the two-track road to the south and east to the Boulder Springs Ranch. There is no evidence that GMIHC had scouted and timed alternative escape routes or checked the escape route they used for loose soils, rocks or excessive vegetation. There is also no evidence that the crew had evaluated the escape time versus the potential rate of spread based upon the afternoon weather forecast.


A second error made by GMIHC is that they did not have a lookout when they made the descent to Boulder Springs Ranch. GMIHC did a very good job of having a lookout posted while they established the anchor point and constructed line. Based upon interviews and incident documents, we could find no evidence that they requested a lookout as they traveled towards Boulder Springs Ranch.


Finally, GMIHC had an obligation to notify their supervisor where they were moving and what route they would be traveling. The confusion that surrounded the search for the crew after the entrapment and burnover illustrates the importance of notifying the supervisor." [Fire Order 7!]

 

Consider Figure 8. and the YHFR link below as former Prescott Fire Chief and former Wildland Battalion Chief Darrell Willis' July 24, 2013, GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference where he belies and contradicts and literally explains away how the GMHS treated the basics of wildland firefighting Rules of Engagement and the accepted tried-and-true principles of Entrapment Avoidance.


What Fatal Causal Factors Does PFD Willis Reveal - July 2013 GMHS Deployment Zone News Conference? YHFR (Sept. 11, 2022)


Figure 23. Snippet of Former Prescott Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis, center, answers media questions on July 23, 2013, at the deployment site where the Granite Mountain Hotshots died on June 30, 2013. Source: John Dougherty (IM)

 

CONCLUSIONS


We have determined that the following factors directly contributed to the entrapment and burnover:


* FIRE BEHAVIOR WAS EXTREME AND EXACERBATED BY THE OUTFLOW BOUNDARY ASSOCIATED WITH THE THUNDERSTORM. THE YARNELL HILL FIRE CONTINUALLY EXCEEDED THE EXPECTATIONS OF FIRE AND INCIDENT MANAGERS, AS WELL AS THE FIREFIGHTERS.

<

* RISK MANAGEMENT WEIGHS THE RISK ASSOCIATED WITH SUCCESS AGAINST THE PROBABILITY AND SEVERITY OF FAILURE. ASFD FAILED TO ADEQUATELY UPDATE THEIR RISK ASSESSMENT WHEN THE FIRE ESCAPED INITIAL ATTACK LEADING TO THE FAILURE OF THEIR STRATEGIES AND TACTICS THAT RESULTED IN A LIFE-THREATENING EVENT.



Figure 24. Snippet of WFA Fig. B-1. Natl Live Fuel Moisture Database -Yarnell, 2008 - 2013. Source: WFA .


Figure 24a. Snippet of WFA Fig. B-1. Nat. Live Fuel Moisture Database - Yarnell, 2008 – 2013 Source: WFA



Figure 24b. (left) Snippet of Fig. B-2. U.S. Drought Monitor for the western US for June 25, 2013. Figure 6a. (right) Snippet of Fig. B-3. Drought Severity Index by Division, June 29, 2013. Source: USDA, WFA






Figure 24c. (left) Snippet of WFA Fig. B-4. MQSTA3 Weather Graph - temperature, wind speed, wind direction, solar radiation. Figure 24d. (right) Snippet of WFA Fig. B-5. Weather data graph - wind direction shift on June 30, 2013. WFA Fig. B-6. Weather data graph detail showing wind speed increase June 30, 2013





Consider these several Wildland Fire Research, Development, and Application (Integrating Science, Technology, and Fire Management) Wild Fire Analyst (WFA) products:



Figure 25.(left) Snippet of WFA Fig. B-7. Tonto National Forest (TNF) , Chaparral/Brush Fuels Fire Danger pocket card. Figure 6a. (right) Snippet of WFA Fig. B-8. TNF Timber/Brush Fuels Fire Danger pocket card. Source: NWCG, WFA





Figure 25a. (left) Snippet of WFA Fig. B-9. TNF, Grass/Desert Fuels Fire Danger pocket card. Figure 11b. (right) Snippet of (WFA Source: NWCG, WFA



Figure 25b. Snippet of WFA Fig. B-11. Prescott NF West Zone, Short Needle Fuels Fire Danger pocket card showing the calculated ERC above 100 for June 30, 2013. Source: NWCG, WFA


Figure 26. Snippet of WFA Fig. B-12. Fire Family Plus Energy Release Component (ERC) output graph for the Stanton RAWS weather station. Source: Fire Family Plus, WFA


 

And now to address and answer the post title question: What Are The Known Yarnell Hill Fire Weather Factors Explaining What Led Up To The June 30, 2013, GMHS Fatalities? Part 3


And it is fair and prudent to also ask: "Was this disaster unexpected or surprising?" And the answer to this is, of course, painfully obvious and already addressed above from the October 2013 SW Hot Shot AAR on the YH Fire and GMHS debacle: "This was the final, fatal link in a long chain of bad decisions with good outcomes, we saw this coming for years."


First off, as stated at the beginning, it is important to note that even though this was an Arizona State Forestry wildfire, both "investigations" were Federally-funded by the USFS. This was "factually" verified by two separate investigators, one from each of the two investigations. They were adamant that the USFS was "in charge of the investigation." In order to prove this claim, this author filed a Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) for the relevant USFS Budget and Finance records in May 2019; and is still awaiting his elusive FOIA Request (FOIA 2019-FS-WO-04116-F) dated May 10, 2019, for over four years now! (Figure 14. and Figure 14a. below). It looks like the USFS continues to pawn this off to other hapless employees, with these so-called "Public Servants" almost always included in their emails - Margaret Scofield Government Information Specialist (FOIA) while neither Roxanne Bailey nor Letitia Johns longer appear on the USFS Employee Search listings.


And here is a September 26, 2019, email response gem from the less-than-observant USFS FOIA Specialist and Privacy Act Program Manager Letitia Johns noting the ostensible complexity and time delays to a Mr. Fir:


"Greetings Mr. Fir,

Records for your request is still being searched. Please note, your case search is a little complex and involves a lot of different staff members. Unfortunately, the search process for your case is taking a little longer than normal.

Thank you for your patience.

Letitia Johns Government Information Specialist (FOIA) & Privacy Act Program Manager

Forest Service Washington Office, Business Operations

p: 202-756-7166 f: 202-649-1161 letitiajohns@fs.fed.us

201 14th Street Avenue, SW, 1st Floor Washington, DC 20250"



Figure 27. (left) and Figure 27a. (right) Snippets of first two pages of six of this author's USFS FOIA Request (FOIA 2019-FS-WO-04116-F) dated May 10, 2019, seeking all budget and finance records of the USFS funding the YH Fire SAIT and ADOSH "investigations." Source: Schoeffler

 

ADOSH Senior Consultant Darrell Schulte was an Investigator on the July 6, 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado where 14 wildland firefighters and Smokejumpers were killed. This author - on due reflection - will discuss the similarities of that fire and the present June 30, 2013, YH Fire, utilizing several papers on that historical tragedy. Initially, the very detailed "Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado," USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Research Paper RMRS-9 September 1998, is used as a support document relative to the similar weather, topography, and fire behavior with a unique fuel (Gambel Oak) common to that Rocky Mountain Region. See Figure 28. below with the research paper cover revealing this fuel-bed.

The opaque white blotches visible in the middle of the fuel bed are where WF and SJs hiking upslope were airbrushed out for "sensitivity" reasons.

Figure 28. Snippet of Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, CO; Rocky Mtn. Research Station Research paper cover (Sept. 1998) Source: USDA

 

From this author's professional perspective, their

Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado, July 6, 1994, South Canyon Fire eight bullet-listed findings enumerated below are disturbing; chilling and eerie parallels to the June 20, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle.

 

[Consider now the RMRPS-RP-9 Executive Summary in its entirety: "Lightning ignited the South Canyon Fire on the afternoon of July 2, 1994. For the next 48 hours, the fire burned downslope in the leaves, twigs, and cured grasses covering the ground surface. By 1200 on July4 the fire had burned approximately 3 acres. It continued to spread downslope through the day on July 5, covering approximately 50 acres by the end of the day. General fire activity consisted of low intensity downslope spread with intermittent flareups and short duration upslope runs in the fire’s interior. The fire remained active through the night covering approximately 127 acres by morning on July 6. On July 6 the fire continued to burn downslope through the surface fuels. At approximately 1520 a dry cold front passed over the area. Winds in the bottom of the drainage immediately west of the ignition point were estimated to be from the south (up canyon) at 30 to 45 miles per hour. About 1555 several upslope fire runs occurred in the grass and conifers on the west-facing slope near the southwest corner of the fire’s interior. Shortly after the crown fire runs, witnesses observed fire in the bottom of the drainage, directly west of the ridgetop ignition point. Pushed by the up canyon winds, the fire in the drainage spread rapidly north. As this fire spread north and east, fuel,slope, and wind conditions combined to result in sustained fire spread through the live green Gambel oak canopy. The fire began burning as a high-intensity fast-moving continuous front. We estimate that the fire moved north up the drainage at about 3 feet per second. Steep slopes and strong west winds triggered frequent upslope (eastward) fire runs to-ward the top of the ridge. These upslope runs spread at 6 to 9 feet per second. A short time later the fire overran and killed 14 firefighters.


"The South Canyon Fire tragically demonstrates the fire behavior that can occur given the appropriate combination of influencing factors. While fire behavior during the afternoon of July 6, 1994, can be characterized as extreme, it was normal and could be expected given the environmental conditions. Similar alignments of fire environment factors and the resulting fire behavior are not uncommon. The uncommon and tragic fact associated with this fire was that 14 fire-fighters were entrapped and killed by it.


"This study focuses on two events: the blowup or transition from surface fire to a fire burning through the shrub canopy, and the fire behavior in the area identified as the West Flank that resulted in the deaths of 14 firefighters. We identify three major factors that contributed to the blowup on the afternoon of July 6, 1994. The first was the presence of fire in the bottom of a steep narrow canyon. Second, strong up canyon winds pushing the fire up the canyon and upslope. Third, the fire burning into the green (not previously underburned) Gambel oak canopy. We have drawn a number of discussion points from the analysis. Some of these points will be readily apparent to firefighters. Others may be less evident. We believe that all are important. They are:


Topography can dramatically influence local wind patterns.

• Vegetation and topography can reduce firefighter’s ability to see a fire or other influencing factors.

• Current and past fire behavior often does not indicate the potential fire behavior that could occur.

• The longer a fire burns and the larger it gets the greater the likelihood of high-intensity fire behavior at some location around the perimeter.

• The transition from a slow-spreading, low-intensity fire to a fast-moving, high-intensity fire often occurs rapidly. This seems to surprise firefighters most often in live fuels.

• Escape route effectiveness should be considered in relation to potential maximum-intensity fire behavior rather than past or present fire behavior.

• The underburned Gambel oak did not contribute to the blowup. It was significant in that it did not provide a safety zone.

• Smoke can significantly reduce the firefighter’s abilities to sense changes in fire behavior"

 

We hope that information gained from this work will protect the lives of other firefighters in the future.

 


[Summing up this profound work, the South Canyon Fire Reviewers noted: Our analysis emphasizes the often dramatic changes in fire behavior that can occur when fire is exposed to steep slopes, winds, and relatively continuous fuels. Perhaps even more important is the observation that not all of these factors are needed, rather only one or two are needed for a blowup to occur. None of the findings and observations discussed in this study represent new breakthroughs in wildland fire behavior understanding. Rather the findings support the need for increased understanding of the relations between the fire environment and fire behavior. We can also conclude that fire managers must continue to monitor and assess both present fire behavior and potential future fire behavior given the possible range of environmental factors. During the review process, some of the reviewers commented that they were left with a feeling of “so what” after reading the manuscript. In fact, this is one of the points that can and should be drawn from our study of the fire.While relatively high-intensity fire behavior was demonstrated, it was normal and even ordinary behavior given the combination of environmental factors. Tragically, what was not normal or ordinary was that 14 firefighters were caught in the middle of the fire and could not escape. As a last note to the readers, we want to say that the most difficult task in this whole process has been achieving a balance between analysis, calculations, and extrapolations on one end of the scale, and heartache, feelings of loss, and even anger on the other end. Peace of mind, if at all possible, can come only by accepting the fact that humans are part of nature, yet understand just parts of it and master even less. Our efforts were directed toward increased understanding, with the hope that the knowledge gained will help to avert similar future incidents. (p. 65)]


[A more recent publication compares and contrasts the July 1994 South Canyon and Yarnell HiH Fires titled:] Tragedies of South Canyon and Yarnell Hill. christwa (Wade) Oregon State Univ. A unique blog focused on Wildland Fire in relation to Policy and Economics. April 9, 2020


[You will readily notice that the above author obviously narrowly cites from the official SAIT-SAIR, redeeming himself with some compelling questions: "July 6, 1994, 14 firefighters lost their lives in western Colorado when the South Canyon Fire blew up and overran them. Nineteen years later, 19-Granite Mountain Hotshots perished when the Yarnell Hill for blew up and cut off their escape route to their safety zone.


In another article, The Yarnell Hill Fire: A Review of Lessons Learned, Richard McCrea quickly points out similarities between the the South Canyon Fire and the Yarnell Hill Fire and posed the question: “Are we condemned to keep making the same mistakes far into the future?”(McCrea, 2014) This blog is supposed to focus on policy issues that relate to the material. The most obvious policy issue that comes to mind and one that I previously considered when looking at these two events in different classes was fire suppression and fire exclusion. The policy of suppressing every fire to save resources. What is to blame for the two largest losses of life since the Big Burn of 1910?"


Another fine publication on the July 1994 South Canyon Fire is titled: Developing leaders for decision making under stress: Wildland firefighters in the South Canyon Fire and its aftermath. Useem M, Cook JR, Sutton L. Academy of Mgmt. Learning (AMLE) 2005; 4 (4): 461-485.


[Their cogent abstract interestingly focused briefly on the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire (MT) and, in more detail, the 1994 South Canyon Fire (CO) tragedy's decision-making and leadership from more of a business perspective and is cited here in its entirety: "To identify the sources of ineffective leadership decisions, we focus on ten decisions made by a leader of a wildland firefighter crew during the fatal South Canyon [F]ire of July 5–6, 1996. The decisions of team leaders in fire zones are unusually clear-cut and consequential for the goals of the enterprise, but they are not unlike decisions faced by managers of most organizations. We suggest that three factors—underpreparation, acute stress, and ambiguous authority—can result in suboptimal decisions by team leaders on a fireline. Through detailed evaluation of the team leader's ten most consequential decisions in the South Canyon [F]ire, we conclude that five were relatively optimal for the triple objectives of safety, speed, and suppression, but five others proved suboptimal. Much of their suboptimality is traced to the fact that the team leader was undertrained for leadership decision making, faced intense stress, and operated without clear authority. In the wake of this firefighting disaster—14 men and women lost their lives—the fire service created a development program using both classroom and experiential methods for preparing its leaders to make good and timely decisions. The South Canyon [F]ire and its aftermath point to the value of explicit preparation in leadership decisions by both fire services and business schools as part of their efforts to enhance strategic thinking and other essential leadership attributes for achieving organizational goals in high stress environments."]


This author will always utilize the well-established and recognized Rules of Engagement (LCES) and Entrapment Avoidance principles listed by these authors as well. However, post-Yarnell Hill Fire, these are seen by many Kool-Aid Drinkers, Naysayers, and No-Blame and No-Fault adherents to be merely "guidelines" that therefore hold no special significance. Because they are based on the YH Fire SAIT-SAIR "conclusion" that the GMHS did everything right that fateful day. And this is clearly verified with the self-appointed WLF LLC gatekeepers and mouthpieces (NPS Center Manager Kelly Woods and USFS R-5 PNF Eric Apland) in their Reading, Reflecting, and Changing Behavior podcast, when they blatantly and unequivocally ignore mentioning the YH Fire or GMHS even once in their WLF LLC Incident Reviews analysis! It is most significant and most telling! Center manager Woods states: "This is the wildfire lessons podcast. Our goal is to promote learning by revealing the complexity and risk in the wildland fire environment. We share the lessons, the learning that follows is up to you. ... to share [Apland's] analysis of the interim reports posted in our Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Incident Review database. Throughout the podcast you'll hear Eric mention multiple reports, some of which you may have read and others of which may be new to you. Either way, Eric has read them all and offer some unique conclusions, lessons, and perspectives. My advice as you listen is to take note of some of the incidents so you can look them up in our incident review database for further study tips." (Otter PDF format)

 

Throughout the podcast you'll hear Eric mention multiple reports, some of which you may have read and others of which may be new to you.


Either way, Eric has read them all and offers some unique conclusions, lessons, and perspectives.

 

Yes indeed. He sure did offer "some unique conclusions, lessons and perspectives" The main "conclusions and perspectives" were their blatant failure to mention the June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle even one time during thier entire podcast. That is most telling. And that is why this author posted the following YHFR title questioning why: Why Has the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center Lost Its Ethical Compass Defending The Federal USFS-Funded June 30, 2013, SAIT-SAIR Conclusion of No Wrongdoing? (YHFR June 2, 2022)


On a special note, these South Canyon Fire authors included a long line of recognized and respected wildland fire specialists, including some of the most prominent writers in the field today, as well as some of the most controversial; Brett W. Butler, Roberta A. Bartlett, Larry S. Bradshaw, Jack D. Cohen, Patricia L. Andrews, Ted Putnam, Richard J. Mangan


"Lightning ignited the South Canyon Fire on the afternoon of July 2, 1994. For the next 48 hours, the fire burned downslope in the leaves, twigs, and cured grasses covering the ground surface. By 1200 on July4 the fire had burned approximately 3 acres. It continued to spread downslope through the day on July 5, covering approximately 50 acres by the end of the day. General fire activity consisted of low intensity downslope spread with intermittent flareups and short duration upslope runs in the fire’s interior. The fire remained active through the night covering approximately 127 acres by morning on July 6. On July 6 the fire continued to burn downslope through the surface fuels. At approximately 1520 a dry cold front passed over the area. Winds in the bottom of the drainage immediately west of the ignition point were estimated to be from the south (up canyon) at 30to 45 miles per hour. About 1555 several upslope fire runs occurred in the grass and conifers on the west-facing slope near the southwest corner of the fire’s interior. Shortly after the crown fire runs, witnesses observed fire in the bottom of the drainage, directly west of the ridgetop ignition point. Pushed by the up canyon winds, the fire in the drainage spread rapidly north. As this fire spread north and east, fuel,slope, and wind conditions combined to result in sustained fire spread through the live green Gambel oak canopy. The fire began burning as a high-intensity fast-moving continuous front. We estimate that the fire moved north up the drainage at about 3 feet per second. Steep slopes and strong west winds triggered frequent upslope (eastward) fire runs to-ward the top of the ridge. These upslope runs spread at 6 to 9 feet per second. A short time later the fire overran and killed 14 firefighters.


"The South Canyon Fire tragically demonstrates the fire behavior that can occur given the appropriate combination of influencing factors. While fire behavior during the afternoon of July 6, 1994, can be characterized as extreme, it was normal and could be expected given the environmental conditions. Similar alignments of fire environment factors and the resulting fire behavior are not uncommon. The uncommon and tragic fact associated with this fire was that 14 fire-fighters were entrapped and killed by it.


"This study focuses on two events: the blowup or transition from surface fire to a fire burning through the shrub canopy, and the fire behavior in the area identified as the West Flank that resulted in the deaths of 14 firefighters. We identify three major factors that contributed to the blowup on the afternoon of July 6, 1994. The first was the presence of fire in the bottom of a steep narrow canyon. Second, strong up canyon winds pushing the fire up the canyon and upslope. Third, the fire burning into the green (not previously underburned) Gambel oak canopy. We have drawn a number of discussion points from the analysis. Some of these points will be readily apparent to firefighters. Others may be less evident. We believe that all are important. They are:


Topography can dramatically influence local wind patterns.

• Vegetation and topography can reduce firefighter’s ability to see a fire or other influencing factors.

• Current and past fire behavior often does not indicate the potential fire behavior that could occur.

• The longer a fire burns and the larger it gets the greater the likelihood of high-intensity fire behavior at some location around the perimeter.

• The transition from a slow-spreading, low-intensity fire to a fast-moving, high-intensity fire often occurs rapidly. This seems to surprise firefighters most often in live fuels.

• Escape route effectiveness should be considered in relation to potential maximum-intensity fire behavior rather than past or present fire behavior.

• The underburned Gambel oak did not contribute to the blowup. It was significant in that it did not provide a safety zone.

• Smoke can significantly reduce the firefighter’s abilities to sense changes in fire behavior"

 

We hope that information gained from this work will protect the lives of other firefighters in the future.

 

Consider the SAIT-SAIR "conclusion" immediately below followed by the dubious sincerity of YH Fire and GMHS debacle, SAIT-SAIR as Team Leader Jim Karels (Florida State Forestry) weasel-words his way around their bogus no-blame, no-fault SAIT-SAIR (pp. 3-4) conclusion included in this honorary NWCG Week of Remembrance (WOR) excerpt.

 

The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable. Firefighters performed within their scope of duty, as defined by their respective organizations.


The Team found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol.

 

It also includes the Yarnell Hill (AZ-2013), Gibson Creek (WA-1977), Blue Ribbon (FL-2011), Mack Lake (MI-1980), Dutch Creek (CA-2008), and South Canyon (CO-1994) Fires. It is noteworthy to read the comments in the lower-right corner of each one. Jim Karels is in there twice with his.

 

"One recommendation from the report was that the State of Arizona lead an interagency effort to develop a Yarnell Hill Fire [S]taff [R]ide to remember these brave firefighters and to help future firefighters learn from this event. The anniversaries of such [tragic] events should signal a reminder for all of us to seek improvement and pursue successful outcomes where we all safely come off the line at the end of each shift."


"How do we as a fire community remember and honor the lives of those who were lost on these fires? We need to keep talking about and learning from what happened to bring change. We need to be open to assessing what we have learned from these events and be proactive in implementing the lessons learned moving forward."


"The purpose of this week is to honor our fallen firefighters by making a commitment that we will apply the lessons we have learned every day, on every fireline we walk, and with every decision we make. Use the materials provided this week as a foundation for respectful dialogue and discussion. Apply these lessons to yourself, your crew, your team, and your unit. Ask yourself this: How can these lessons help change us for the better?"

 


Figure 29. Snippet of YH Fire SAIT-SAIR Team Leader Jim Karels quote Source: NWCG 6-Minutes for Safety Remembrance


While maintaining your professional composure as much as possible, do your level best to control your gag reflexes as you read the following blather that is so much a part of this predictable and preventable June 30, 2013, YH Fire and GMHS debacle.


Consider now the WF LLC Week of Remembrance (WOR) (June 30 to July 6) NWCG 6-Minutes for Safety. 2022 WOR Day 1: Yarnell Hill Fire (Arizona) – June 30, 2013


"Perspective by the Yarnell Hill Fire SAIT lead. Nineteen firefighters were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire in central Arizona on June 30, 2013, at 1642. The Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) from the Prescott Fire Department was working on the south end of the fire west of Yarnell when they were overrun by fire. This tragedy occurred while the crew was traveling through an unburned area toward a safety zone when a rapidly advancing fire of great intensity overtook them. The fire’s extreme speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour eliminated any opportunity for the crew to reach the safety zone or return to the canyon rim. The crew had less than two minutes to improve a shelter deployment site using chainsaws and burning out. The crew had deployed their fire shelters close together when the fire overtook them. The deployment site, in a box canyon with heavy brush, caused direct flame contact and extreme temperatures as the fire swept through and was not survivable.


"The loss of nineteen of the twenty Granite Mountain IHC had a profound impact on family and friends as well as on the Prescott Fire Department, the State of Arizona, the Interagency Hotshot Crew community, and all firefighters across the United States and around the world.


"Following the accident, a Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team [SAIT] developed a fire report [SAIR]. The report concentrated on helping wildland firefighters of the present and future learn from the tragedy through sense making, reviewing decision points, and a video. This helped firefighters visualize what happened and how to best learn from the loss of the Granite Mountain IHC members. One recommendation from the report was that the State of Arizona lead an interagency effort to develop a Yarnell Hill Fire staff ride to remember these brave firefighters and to help future firefighters learn from this event.


"Today we honor and remember the lives of the nineteen lost on this tragic day, but we also remember the lives of all fallen firefighters and honor them throughout this week. The anniversaries of such events should signal a reminder for all of us to seek improvement and pursue successful outcomes where we all safely come off the line at the end of each shift.


""How do we as a fire community remember and honor the lives of those who were lost on these fires? We need to keep talking about and learning from what happened to bring change. We need to be open to assessing what we have learned from these events and be proactive in implementing the lessons learned moving forward.


"The purpose of this week is to honor our fallen firefighters by making a commitment that we will apply the lessons we have learned every day, on every fireline we walk, and with every decision we make. Use the materials provided this week as a foundation for respectful dialogue and discussion. Apply these lessons to yourself, your crew, your team, and your unit. Ask yourself this: How can these lessons help change us for the better?"

 

The Granite Mountain Hotshots of Prescott, Ariz., made the [1994 South Canyon Fire] pilgrimage there two years ago to pay their respects, recalled Darrell Willis, wildland division chief for the Prescott Fire Department


We hiked Storm King Mountain with this (20-member hotshot) crew, and we all said,

"This will never happen to us.”


 

Wildfire Expert Alleges Arizona Forestry Division Covering Up Yarnell Hill Tragedy (4/5/16) New Times