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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Arizona will pay $670,000 to the Families of the 19 Hotshots But Questions Remain #AzFire


In this photo shot by firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots watch a growing wildfire that later swept over and killed the crew of 19 firefighters June 30 near Yarnell, Ariz. Ashcraft texted the photo to his wife, Juliann, but died later that day battling the out-of-control blaze.
Associated Press photo courtesy of Juliann Ashcraft

Questions remain about what went wrong that day and who was responsible for the deaths of the firefighters...because today's settlement announcement means some questions might never be answered.

Today we remember the 2 year anniversary of the Line of Duty deaths of the 19 Firefighters in Arizona. While there has been much written about the fire and several law-suits filed some naming fire commanders, some feel very strongly that little has changed and it could certainly happen again...which is what was heard about fires before the Yarnell Hill fire...and others before that.

 As of last night, Arizona will pay $670,000 to the families of the 19 hotshots who died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire and will implement new wildland firefighting procedures to improve safety in a global settlement of litigation stemming from the 2013 fire. We shall see.

Questions remain about what went wrong that day and who was responsible for the deaths of the firefighters...because today's settlement announcement means some questions might never be answered.

=The 12 family members who filed a wrongful death lawsuit each will receive $50,000 from the state's risk management fund.
=The seven families that did not sue will each receive $10,000 from the Arizona State Forestry Division, which was responsible for managing the Yarnell Hill Fire. 
=State forestry had been fined a record $559,000 for workplace-safety violations that may have contributed to the tragedy. 
=In lieu of paying the fine, the division will instead pay the families.In addition, state forestry will implement "enhanced safety training" for incident command management, improve its communications systems and work toward greater transparency.

An Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health investigation led the state Industrial Commission to issue $559,000 in fines against state forestry. The fines have been under appeal until now.

The settlement occurs without the testimony of Granite Mountain Hotshot Brendan McDonough, who barely escaped the firestorm that day and was the crew's lone survivor.

McDonough recently told the crew's founder that he overheard a radio conversation between Eric Marsh, the crew's supervisor who'd separated from the others to scout the fire, and Jesse Steed, Marsh's top deputy. It it, Marsh is believed to have ordered the crew to leave their safety zone. The conversation is believed to have occurred shortly before the hotshots were overcome by flames. Attorneys for state forestry repeatedly sought McDonough's testimony under oath, but a deposition never happened.

Here are some related videos worthy of your review:

America Burning: The Yarnell Hill Tragedy and the Nation's Wildfire Crisis
Video shows their last moments:
Here is their final radio traffic:
Here is one article of great interest "FEW CHANGES"
12 Firefighter families file wrongful death lawsuit

Take a moment to remember these Firefighters who lost their lives at that wildland fire:
Andrew Ashcraft, 29
Anthony Rose, 23
Christopher MacKenzie, 30
Clayton Whitted, 28
Dustin DeFord, 24
Garret Zuppiger, 27
Grant McKee, 21
Jesse Steed, 36
Joe Thurston, 32
John Percin Jr., 24
Kevin Woyjeck, 21
Eric Marsh, 43
Robert Caldwell, 23
Scott Norris, 28
Sean Misner, 26
Travis Carter, 31
Travis Turbyfill, 27
Wade Parker, 22
William "Billy" Warneke, 25


Source :The Secret List 6/30/2015-1921 Hours

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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