TRUSTED NEWS LEADER FOR COTTONWOOD, CAMP VERDE & THE VERDE VALLEY
Fri, Feb. 21

New report shows more details about Hotshots' deaths

PRESCOTT - Investigators released a one-page preliminary report Saturday about the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots from the Prescott Fire Department while battling the Yarnell Hill fire last Sunday.

The Serious Accident Investigation Team's 72-hour report on the hotshots' deaths said the hotshots were "entrapped" when flames overran their position late last Sunday afternoon. The report was completed Friday and released Saturday. It was called the 72-hour report because the investigation began Tuesday. A longer preliminary report is due within 60 days.

"Eyewitnesses state that fire behavior was extreme with heavy winds," the report said.

"The intent of the investigation is to learn from the events leading up to this accident to help prevent a similar tragedy in the future," the report said. The 19 firefighters deployed their shelters near the base of a bowl-shaped basin just west of Yarnell.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office determined they died from burns and smoke inhalation.

One Granite Mountain Hotshot crew member survived last Sunday because he was serving as a lookout on a small ridge a short distance away and was able to retreat when the fire reached a predetermined trigger point, the report noted.

Examples of how previous wildland firefighter accident reports have taught lessons for other firefighters are located online at wildfirelessons.net.

Lightning ignited the wildfire on state trust land west of Yarnell on June 28. County officials said it burned 127 structures in Yarnell and two in Peeples Valley.

It was 90 percent contained by Saturday. One section of the fire's southeast corner is the only uncontained portion.

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