The Arizona State Forestry Division has released 20 video clips shot by crews fighting the Yarnell Fire last year on the day 19 firefighters were killed.
Footage of the discovery of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot crew members' bodies was redacted, but the audio was left intact. Other video shows the concern of fellow firefighters and dramatic drives through a hellish landscape full of black skies, downed powerlines and flames everywhere.
See below for list of videos, plus a synopsis of what's on them.
The videos don't explain what went wrong, but they're an important, if not somewhat disturbing, addition to what the public knows about the worst tragedy in American wildland firefighting since 1933.
Despite early requests for all public records available in the investigation of the June 30, 2013, deadly incident, these videos had been kept hidden by the government until now. State officials say the U.S. Forestry Service just released the video to them following a records request.
John Dougherty of InvestigativeMEDIA, (and former New Times writer), reports that the videos were released following an October 11 records request by him.
The State Forestry Division released a statement on a web page with links to the videos: "On November 7, 2014, the following video clips were received by Arizona State Forestry through a Freedom of Information Act request to the US Forest Service. To be transparent with the public, the videos are presented exactly as they have been received. The redactions were done before these videos came into the possession of Arizona State Forestry."
* 0630131532 -- Firefighter standing on a dirt road near huge flames. -- "Yup, wind shifted..." "Firewall..."
* 0630131533 -- More from the same angle, this time with a firetruck conveniently located for comparison purposes. These flames must be 30-feet high at times. They make a roar and crackle that can be heard over the wind. Watch for the critter, maybe a gopher rat or rabbit, that runs down the road to escape the flames.
* 0630131534 -- Firefighters setting controlled burns in extreme conditions.
* M2U00261 -- Lots of concern about potential loss of structures. "Five immediate threats prob'ly in the next couple of hours if this thing all gets aligned like I think it may..."
* M2U00262 -- "Hey, I'm looking for (Forestry Division Planning Operations Section Chief) Paul Musser's phone number... I really need it bad right about now."
* M2U00263 -- Fire truck racing down a dirt road. -- "Whoa, slow down, Skippy."
* M2U00264 Crew activity under dark skies. -- "40-mile-an-hour winds at Skull Valley right now!"
* M2U00266R -- "Do we have any firm location on where they're at?" -- "Uh, no..."
* M2U00267 -- "C'mon Granite, let's hear you talk here." -- A 40-foot jet of flame from venting gas gets the firefighters' attention. -- "This'll be a good training video."
* M2U00268 -- Flames on ATV ride.
* M2U00269 -- Eerie wind chimes in smoky neighborhood.
* M2U00270 -- More ATV driving around scorched landscape.
* M2U00271 -- Talk about the "lookout," an apparent reference to Yarnell Fire survivor Brendan McDonough, is obscured by vehicle noise.
* M2U00272 Burning house vents gas.
* M2U00273R -- Long, intense drive through scorched landscape. Some conversation in beginning of this video, which is five minutes, 49 seconds long. -- "Hot, hot!" -- "Watch these power lines."
* M2U00274 -- Chopper can be seen hovering from camera held by firefighter huffing as he climbs a slope. A radio transmission can be heard from the chopper. -- "We're circling overhead. We do have a few patients we were trying to reach in Yarnell."
* M2U0075 Not much to be seen or heard on this one.
* M2U0076R No bodies are shown in this video as firefighters walk up to the grisly scene. -- "Todd, that you?" -- "Yeah, go ahead, two." -- The speaker's words come slowly, with a palpable weight. "Yeah, Todd. On scene. Eighteen, confirmed."
* M2U0077R -- Forty-eight-second video blacked out from about 12 seconds on.
* M2U0078 -- Eight-second pan of fires in twilight.
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