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Yarnell Hill Fire Report to Be Released This Weekend

Yarnell Hill Fire Report to Be Released This Weekend
Photo illustration by New Times

The investigative report on the deaths of the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots in the Yarnell Hill Fire will be released on Saturday.

An investigative team, led by a state forester in Florida, has been completing the long-awaited report, which is meant to be a "factual and management report for accident prevention."

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the report will answer all of the public's questions.

In New Times' recent cover story, "Lambs to Slaughter," reporter John Dougherty cited a former Hotshot who actually got out of the business due to this investigations:

William Riggles, a 12-year member of the Smokey Bear Hotshots based in New Mexico, states in a an e-mail that he got out of the business in 2008 because accident investigations "never criticized any" management decisions.

Riggles says "facts changed" during investigations, and "what's worse, everybody keeps their mouths shut and babbles the official story."

Just a few days ago, the Arizona Republic chimed in with an entire article dedicated to how factual this report will be.

From the Republic:

State officials refuse to say whether a report on the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy, scheduled for release in coming weeks, will adhere to national guidelines that call for investigators to conceal causes of the accident and ignore wildfire safety standards in their analysis.

That doesn't sound encouraging.

 
There's a mountain of evidence that shows the Granite Mountain Hotshots never should have been deployed to the Yarnell Fire.

However, in recent weeks, Prescott Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis declared on ABC News that the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire "could have made it" if the feds sent air-tankers requested by state firefighting officials.

According to Willis, if the U.S. Forest Service would have been able to fill those orders, then maybe it would've given the Hotshots an extra 10 minutes, which Willis claims would have been enough to save the lives of the 19 men.

"If they'd had 10 more minutes, they could have made it," Willis told ABC News. "That crew was totally fit. There's no question in my mind that they would've made it."

Interestingly, the crew already had air-tankers, three of which had already dropped flame retardant on the Yarnell Hill Fire before being grounded at 2:23 p.m. due to weather, and did not get back into the air until after the Hotshots deployed their shelters, according to dispatch logs.

The release of the new report is being done at Prescott High School at 10 a.m.

See New Times' coverage of the fire below:

-Granite Mountain Hotshots Never Should've Been Deployed, Mounting Evidence Shows
-Prescott's Fire Commander Responds to Cover Story on Granite Mountain Hotshots
-Fire Official: Hotshots "Could Have Made It" Had Feds Sent Requested Tankers
-Arizona Republic Sues for Yarnell Hill Fire Records That Officials Refuse to Release
-Granite Mountain Hotshots Killed in Yarnell Hill Fire Taken Back to Prescott
-Yarnell Hill Fire 100 Percent Contained

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.


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