I was one of the two eyewitnesses throughout the entire weekend of the June 28-30, 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire). We witnessed and photographed and videoed the weather and fire behavior, terrain, personnel, vehicles, aircraft, some radio communications, and much more. We tried so hard to share this YH Fire evidence with the Prescott FD (PFD) because Daily Courier Joanna Dodder encouraged us that this data was important. However, the PFD didn't want it, they were not interested. We gave the SAIT, ADOSH, and John Doughtery, all our data.
I have painstakingly gathered public records related to all aspects of the YH Fire. Based on these public records gathered over five years, I will do my very best to attempt to present all the YH Fire data that I have collected and purchased of the true history of YH Fire. And it may take more than five years.
I am sorry to all Wildland Firefighters (WFs) for the epic loss of so many of your WF brothers in one fell swoop, the families, friends, and loved ones of the Granite Mountain Hotshots (GMHS), homeowners and all others affected by the YH Fire. The Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT) had unlimited access to all of the UNREDACTED public records that I requested, of which I received.some, including many that were so heavily redacted as to be worthless. The SAIT provided a Serious Accident Investigation Report (SAIR) which was based on preconceived notions of no fault and no errors. There was no separate section for human factors. The SAIT-SAIR focused on limited areas without addressing the true lessons learned from such an unprecedented tragedy. In a word, it should have NEVER happened.
Ahead of time,I want to address that I know some areas will be very sensitive to some people, yet these are "public records," that I tried over time to get you all interested in this area, but very few did. There are so many of you local residents and firefighters that have data in the form of photos, videos and audio recordings, and I encourage you to please come forward and share this valuable data for sharing the truth of what occurred that day and for lessons learned for our local community as well as the fire industry. I know how difficult it is living in a small town as well as the "Go Along To Get Along" attitude within the fire industry and that same attitude and behavior extends to our small town. I know because it has taken me five years to get to this point. I also said in God's time His Will would be done. It is time. I have full comprehension of my legal rights on sharing this material to the world and I will not tolerate any bully behaviors to suppress the truth from presenting itself. I also stated long ago "watch what you typed, government folks in emails and texts because it would eventually be public data." I will be revealing all the public record material that I have gathered.
To begin with, retired YFD Fire Chief Pete Anderson and AZ BLM Bruce Olsen conceived the idea of fire breaks and fuels mitigation in the Yarnell community. A fuel/fire break was constructed between Sesame Street and The Shrine (Wasson/Baluco/Shrine owners) the year that Sesame Street TV show came on the air. The whole idea of the fuel/fire break was to protect Yarnell in the event of a threatening wildfire. The longtime presumption was that it would need to be burned or fired out to be totally effective or what us locals incorrectly refer to as "backburned."
Based on one of the public records I received, I recently called and left a lengthy voice mail alerting the Kristensen family at 3:54pm on June 27, 2018, that I was about to reveal their records in the form of their June 30, 2013 photographs. I also told them that unfolding this Summer 2018, all the fire data I have gathered for 5 years, would eventually be released to the world to properly assess what I have gathered. I will discuss this further below.
This will also include texts, emails, and more from Firefighters (FFs), WFs, and the GMHS families, friends, and loved ones, etc. - all of it will be made public soon
I am not doing a book or movie or making any type of profit. I am enduring a debt as well as people in my circle, however, it is well worth it to make sure we get to the root of the many issues surrounding the Yarnell Hill Fire (YH Fire) to bring forth lessons learned and that safety really does matter and ALL lives certainly matter!.
Consider now, some of what I know about Mr. Kristensen mentioned below. I helped "Snakeman" Tommy Maiden collect and relocate venomous spiders back a decade+ ago with Frank Serros; both my hiking pals March 09-June 09 and both now deceased to cancer. We gave the spiders to 67 year old Mr. Charles Paul Kristensen and that is all I knew and know about him myself.
However, Snakeman told me Charles (Chuck) Paul Kristensen was into Science, a Chemist, and in 1978-82 he was a product development chemist for McGean Chemical. Tommy told us "Chuck" got his bachelors of science 1976-1980 CA State Univ. Long Beach and began in 1975 Univ. of CA, Los Angeles learning chemistry. In 1986, Kristensen founded BioActivities, which eventually became NPS Pharmaceuticals .I also heard this man is talented and attended "music" at the Univ. of Minnesota-Twin Cities and his zoology even began back 69-73'. The point in all the above background data is he knows his terrain from a desert guy factor but he also is a Yarnell Fire Department (YFD) EMT/FF since 2002. It was shared to me he has lived in Black Canyon City as well, an area with its own history of wildfires.
Snakeman shared with Frank Serros and myself that from 92-99 that Chuck was with Cyanamid Agricultural Research Center as a biologist.
He started collecting, breeding and milking venomous spiders and venom from other arthropods. I have only spoken to him a few times. Here are some videos of his work/trade:
Chuck states: " I like to directed (sic) by questions and problems and let them carry me into new areas for exploration and discovery. Specialties: Dishwasher, maggot slopper, spider spit collector, HPLC, mass spectroscopy, protein purification and characterization, chemical product formulation, field biology and collecting, spider breeding, rearing and collecting, computer programming, photography, emergency medicine, wildland and structure firefighting," (LINKEDin)
Chuck currently has SPIDER PHARM LLC. I unsuccessfully tried to fact check in May 2018 with a public record to see current YFD staff roster, but when I left the area on June 15th 2018, I contend that Chief Ben Palm/YFD board members were breaking state and Arizona Fire District handbook policies/rules/laws regarding their current Public Records Request form so I had to file with the Arizona State Ombudsman.
Last I knew the community lost a fine firefighter, John Rice. It has not yet been clarified if it was due to a career move or as we all know, local rumors fly and I am the one who documents "the facts" for you all to properly assess the YH Fire and its aftermath. Yet, the last I knew there was just a few left on YFD and "Chuck" was still a YFD Volunteer EMT/FF.
The following is a thread that sits in public records to ADOSH from "Chuck" --- I have not seen his additional fire photos but maybe he will share them to the world some day. Every story matters!
Here is that public record email I legally paid for and received:
"I’ve got more but these photos appear to be the most interesting. The first were taken at the top of W Happy Way, at S Crest Way, with two smaller plumes starting to develop NWW from town. The last photo (16:04) was taken from the N end of N Crest Way, from above the Presbyterian church and shows the larger plume N-NW of town. It also appears that the other plumes are growing in that photo."
"I was wondering if the southerly plumes were the ones that expanded to take out the firefighters and attack Glen Ilah."
Spider Pharm Inc
PO Box 1090
Yarnell, AZ 85362
"From: Krotenberg, Marshall - OSHA [mailto:Krotenberg.Marshall@dol.gov]
Sent: Monday, August 19, 2013 2:17 PM
To: Charles Kristensen
Subject: Yarnell Hil Fire Photographs"
"Thanks for calling today. Any photographs or video you may have related to the fire would be appreciated.
"Marshall Krotenberg, CIH, CSP
Safety Compliance Supervisor
Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health
800 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
WTKTT stated about the four Chuck Kristensen photos below:
"These are still NOT 'original copies'. Someone just uploaded these images to a Google Photo Album or to 'Google Drive'and then just 'shared' them from there. Once you 'give' them to Google... their reformatting engine removes all the original metadata. There is no longer even any metadata to say what kind of DEVICE took these photos ( Digital Camera? Smartphone? ).
"However... at least the FILENAMES have been preserved and there seem to be accurate TIMESTAMPS in the photo
filenames themselves ( which Google has not [messed] with ).
"So the timestamps of 15.51.39 ( 3:51:39 PM ) through 16.04.36 ( 4:04:36 PM ) can be assumed to be 'accurate'.
"At first glance.. I don't see ANYTHING at all 'unusual' about any of these photos.
"They are not showing anything that any other photos in the 'public' evidence record don't already show.
"The smoke plumes in the first photo ( the 15.51.39 one ) appear to be exactly where even Christopher Mackenzie's
photos and videos [see Photo 5 below] were showing the fire-line to be at exactly the same time ( 3:51 PM ) from HIS vantage point
up at that 'last resting spot' where he and all the other GM Hotshots were ( at 3:51 PM ) seen 'resting' and
taking all THEIR photos of the fire-line advancing towards Yarnell.
Forgot to mention...The PROOF that these are not originals is because during Google's photo conversion process, it removes all device and creation date information and then it adds its own 'stamp' to the metadata that looks like this..."Software: Google". That tells you that it was Google's software that 'altered' the metadata in the image.All FOUR of these photos have this tell-tale 'Software: Google' alteration signature. "
The original email had the photos below attached out of sequence. Therefore, I have listed them in chronological order below so the fire behavior progression makes more sense to you as you scroll down.
You will clearly notice separate and distinct smoke columns/plumes that indicate a firing operation is taking place in order to strengthen the firebreak by removing the flammable fuels ahead of an approaching wildfire
Figure 1. 2013-06-30 15.51.39 (640x480) Crest Way and Happy Way looking westerly (Source:Chuck Kristensen)
Figure 2. 2013-06-30 15.52.45 (640x480) The triangle that connects Fountain Hills to Lakewood Drive looking toward the Sesame Street to The Shrine areas (Source:Chuck Kristensen)
Figure 3. 2013-06-30 15.52.58 (640x480) Crest Way and Happy Way looking westerly (Source:Chuck Kristensen)
Figure 4. 2013-06-30 16.04.36 (640x480) Crestway and Tabletop Way looking between The Shrine (not visible) - Harper Canyon and the U-Stow-It (Source:Chuck Kristensen)
The following three images are enhanced to denote fire operation locations and activities from the perspective of the photographer of the above four photos indicated by a RED SIGHTLINE.
Figure 5. The photo below is a GOOGLE EARTH Street View image) WantsToKnowTheTruth (WTKTT) from INVESTIGATIVEmedia created this so we can see specific activities areas of interest on June 30, 2013 minus the fires as seen in the above photos.(Source: WantsToKnowTheTruth (WTKTT))
WTKTT from INVESTIGATIVEmedia stated: "[This is] another 'workup' on the Kristensen 1551 photo. Same as the one attached to the last email but this photo above has more 'annotations' and shows more 'locations'. Notice that according to the RED SIGHTLINE, the 'fireline' hadn't even really crossed the OLD GRADER location yet out there in the 'bowl', which matches other photographic evidence already in the public record for this 3:51 PM timeframe.
"Also notice that whatever was happening 'out there' at 3:51 PM... the Granite Mountain Hotshots had a CLEAR VIEW of it from that 'Last Rest Spot' and the place where Christopher Mackenzie and the other GM Hotshots were all taking their own photos ( looking back EAST ) in this same 3:51 PM timeframe."
Figure 6. Edited photo using a red arrow showing fire behavior from the line of sight from the photographer on June 30, 2013 . (Source: WTKTT from INVESTIGATIVEmedia)
Figure 7. Commentary from WTKTT: "Here's a simple 'sightline analysis' of just the first Kristensen photo... the one taken at 1551 ( 3:51 PM ).As in the other photos... the RED LINE on the photo represents a 'sightline' to the left edge of the southernmost smoke plume seen in the distance."As with the Glover 096.JPG photo, there is an equivalent 'Google Street View' image taken at the sameexact point Kristensen took HIS photo on June 30, 2013."The 'Street View' photo from up there at Crest and Happy Way has an equivalent RED SIGHTLINE outto where that southernmost smoke plume is being seen at 3:51 PM."It also shows where the DEPLOYMENT SITE was in the distance ( which Kristensen's photo does NOT show )."That RED SIGHTLINE actually passes directly OVER that 'Partick Bernard' business location that the SAIRwas referring to as "The Mning Camp'. This is exactly where Jerry Thompson and those other Sun Cityfirefighters were staged at the moment this 3:51 photo was taken."Jerry Thompson and the others were already up on that 'rock pile' just to the west of the 'Mining Camp'structures and were already taking their own photos and videos of this same fireline approaching Yarnell."So as far as what is being seen in this Kristensen photo... the Jerry Thompson and Sun City photos andvideos already provide a much better view of what was really going on 'over there' at this exact time ( 3:51 PM )."(Source: WTKTT from INVESTIGATIVEmedia) (Source: WTKTT from INVESTIGATIVEmedia; the 2 above photos had the below message tied to these photos)
Figure 8. View of the June 30, 2013 fire behavior from Tabletop and Crest Way in Yarnell, Arizona. In Google Earth, you can see on street view this is a view of Sesame Street to U-Stow It Storage (on Hwy 89 area); the fire you see is out by the Harper Canyon area. The grey roof of the Presbyterian Church (as it was on June 30, 2013) is on the middle right. This is a view of Yarnell fire behavior. Source: Arizona State Forestry Public Records.
Figure 9. Screen shot of Sean Kriner photo index log. The photo above in figure 8 is Photo 14 of 18. If you go to Google Earth and search Tabletop and Crest Way street view in Yarnell Arizona, you will note the angle and direction of plumes shows the view of Sesame St/Shrine Road to right behind U-Stow It area. Source: Arizona State Forestry Public Records.
Figure 10. Joy A. Collura's photo of the GMHS as I was the last civilian hiker to see and speak with the GMHS June 30, 2013
webmaster reviewed page last: 7-19-18 1:45pm