Report on deaths of 19 firefighters can't answer some questions - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Report on deaths of 19 firefighters can't answer some questions

Posted: Updated:

(CNN) -- Though an in-depth report released Saturday assigned no blame in the death of 19 elite Arizona firefighters, it did raise some key issues about the day the men died.

The firefighters, known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, died on June 30 fighting wildfires in Arizona. The fire was started by a lightning strike, rapidly spread from one-half acre to several hundred and destroyed more than 100 structures. It took the lives of the 19 hotshots before it was contained.

The interagency report, commissioned by the state, detailed what went wrong in the Yarnell Hill Fire and made recommendations to improve the future safety and efficiency of fire crews, both in Arizona and nationwide.

The report found the crew was fully qualified, staffed and trained.

But it said fire personnel dealt with radio communications issues throughout that day.

The report also detailed that during a critical part of the day, there was a 30-minute communication gap between the hotshot team and the command center. The communications issues throughout the day resulted in confusion about the hotshot crew's intentions, movements and location, officials said.

Earlier in the day, the crew had been in one area, but later moved from that point, and officials said they may never know why.

"We have no indication that Operations or anyone else asked the Granite Mountain IHC to move to a new location but we assume they decided this on their own, believing they could reengage and help defend Yarnell," officials said in the report.

The Yarnell Hill fire was discovered on the evening of June 28. Due to the dangerous terrain and the small amount of fire seen at that point, officials said the decision was made not to put fire personnel in the area at that time. The next morning, the fire had grown to several hundred acres, was moving toward the town of Yarnell.

Fire retardant was dropped on the area and some firefighters were dispatched, according to the report.

The hotshot team was deployed the morning of June 30. The day started with some radios not being programmed with the correct fire tones, which the firefighters were able to work around, officials said. The team then had about a 45-minute hike into the anchor point, which is the spot where they began their efforts.

According to the report, the hotshot team received several weather reports from the National Weather Service during the day; the reports warned of approaching storms and changing wind speeds and directions.

What we now know, from the report, is that the hotshot crew was on top of a ridge and making its way to a designated safety zone when the winds changed erratically again, causing the fire to split and accelerate dramatically, trapping all 19.

The officials who spent more than three months compiling the 116-page report personally delivered it to the families of the hotshot team before releasing it to the media and the public Saturday.

Not since September 11, 2001, had the nation lost so many firefighters in one day.

Gov. Jan Brewer said the deaths represented "as dark a day as I can remember." A 100-mile procession brought their bodies from the state Capitol, through the community where they perished and back to their hometown of Prescott. Their loss felt especially acutely there as the 19 represented 20% of the city's fire department.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at a memorial service attended by thousands. The Granite Mountain Hotshots realized, Biden said that integrity "is measured by whether you respond to the needs of your neighbors."

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Jacksonville Communications Officer Killed in One Vehicle Crash

    Jacksonville Communications Officer Killed in One Vehicle Crash

    Monday, April 14 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-04-15 03:31:53 GMT
    SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) -- DPS says a woman is dead after a crash Monday afternoon.  It happened just before 2:00 p.m. at the intersection of Mixon Road and Yarborough Lane in Smith County.  At this pointMore >>
    A Jacksonville Police communications officer has died after a crash Monday afternoon.
    More >>
  • Family remembers Fort Hood shooting victim with Illinois ties

    Family remembers Fort Hood shooting victim with Illinois ties

    Thursday, April 3 2014 10:35 PM EDT2014-04-04 02:35:25 GMT
    EFFINGHAM (WCIA)  -- One of the victims in a deadly shooting in Fort Hood went to school in central Illinois. Family members say 37-year-old Army Sergeant Tim Owens went to Southside Elementary in Effingham.  Owens'More >>
    One of the victims in a deadly shooting in Fort Hood went to school in central Illinois. Family members say 37-year-old Army Sergeant Tim Owens went to Southside Elementary in Effingham.More >>
  • One year after bombing, Boston beefs up security for famed marathon

    One year after bombing, Boston beefs up security for famed marathon

    One year after bombing, Boston beefs up security for famed marathon

    Kris Biagiotti pushes her special-needs daughter, Kayla, in a jogging stroller during the Boston Marathon in 2013.Kris Biagiotti pushes her special-needs daughter, Kayla, in a jogging stroller during the Boston Marathon in 2013.
    (BOSTON)- Monday sees the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, and the firstsince the attack last year that killed three spectators.On Sunday evening, security preparations were front and center along with the runners and 1 million people who will watch the storied race.For blocks in downtown Boston, a ring of steel barricades cordons off where Monday's race will end. Some 3,500 cops will protect the marathon course, double least year's police presence. Spectators have been told to bring no ...More >>
    (BOSTON)- Monday sees the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, and the firstsince the attack last year that killed three spectators.On Sunday evening, security preparations were front and center along with the runners and 1 million people who will watch the storied race.For blocks in downtown Boston, a ring of steel barricades cordons off where Monday's race will end. Some 3,500 cops will protect the marathon course, double least year's police presence. Spectators have been told to bring no ...More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2004 - 2014, WorldNow and KYTX, Owned and Operated by London Broadcasting Company.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.