“Granite Mountain” film to begin production Monday

It will be filmed in New Mexico.

Granite Mountain cast
Granite Mountain cast. IMDB.

The film about the Granite Mountain Hotshots is set to begin production on Monday, and will attempt to tell the story of the 20-person crew of wildland firefighters that were all killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire in 2013 except for one survivor, Brendan McDonough.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has hired a very impressive cast including Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Andie MacDowell, Jennifer Connelly, and Taylor Kitsch. (IMDB has a full list of the cast.)

Below is an excerpt from an AP article:

The producers behind a movie about the elite firefighting team that lost 19 members in a 2013 Arizona wildfire assure the story focuses on the firefighters’ dedication, not the way in which they died.

The movie will be filming in Santa Fe, Los Alamos and several other cities in New Mexico through early September. It is slated to open in theaters in September 2017.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said the plot will focus on Eric Marsh, who led the crew, and Brendan McDonough, the only surviving hotshot crew member. He said it will not focus on tragedy or the exact details of the fire.

“This movie is about the lives of these people and what they were trying to put on the line, and what it meant to them to do what they were doing and what it meant to the community to have them doing it,” he said.

Brolin will play Marsh, who was superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, with Connolly playing his wife, Amanda Marsh.

The movie will be released in September 22, 2017.

Production of film about Yarnell Hill Fire to begin June 13

The film will have a cast loaded with stars.

The film about the Yarnell Hill Fire that has been in the planning and casting stages for months will begin production on Monday, June 13. Much of it will be shot near Santa Fe, New Mexico. If the director does as well at making the film as he did at hiring a cast, it should be a hit. The actors announced so far include Josh Brolin, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, and Ben Hardy.

Below is an excerpt from an article at AZCentral:

…“This movie’s not about tragedy,” said producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. “This movie is about the lives of these people and what they were trying to put on the line, and what it meant to them to do what they were doing and what it meant to the community to have them doing it.”

That’s important to Amanda Marsh, the widow of Eric Marsh, who was killed in the fire. She will be played by Jennifer Connelly; Josh Brolin plays Eric.

“I want the world to understand what it is like to be a hotshot and what it is like to be a hotshot wife,” she said. “Neither is easy. Both come with their own sense of deep responsibility and commitment to the job. I hope Eric’s personality comes through and that people get a sense of who Eric was.”…

Producer di Bonaventura intends to concentrate on four or five people, but said two characters drive the film — Eric Marsh, the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew Superintendent, and Brendan McDonough, the sole survivor. He does not plan to concentrate in detail on exactly what led to the crew of 19 firefighters being overrun by fire and killed — or why.

More from AZCentral:

…The tragedy will not be ignored, of course. It’s just not the focus of the film. Di Bonaventura compared it to “The Perfect Storm,” the 2000 film in which George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg play commercial fisherman on a doomed trip. “The event they lost their lives in in that movie is probably, I don’t know, I’m guessing it’s five minutes of that movie, a two-hour movie,” he said. “It’s very similar here. It’s sort of a blue-collar-value kind of job, very Americana.”

“How they do what they do is very fascinating,” he said. “It’s unbelievably committed, it is hardcore physical exertion. It takes a real strong will to go through with the experience, and that is the thing that I hope people come away from the movie with, the appreciation of what it takes to do this. And I don’t mean necessarily the physical skill, but on an emotional level, what is the commitment? That is why we have taken on this story, is because we are awed by what they do and how they do it. ”…

Lionsgate, the studio producing the film, which has been re-titled “Granite Mountain”, has selected a September 22, 2017 release date.

Release date set for film about Yarnell Hill Fire

Lionsgate, the studio producing the film about the Yarnell Hill Fire, has selected a September 22, 2017 release date. With a screenplay written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren, it will attempt to tell the story of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots that were killed on the fire near Prescott, Arizona in 2013. The name of the film was recently changed from “No Exit” to “Granite Mountain”.

It has an impressive cast lined up to be directed by Joseph Kosinski, starring Josh Brolin, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch, James Badge Dale, and Ben Hardy. At least some of the movie will be filmed in New Mexico.

Wildfire Today has learned that the producers of the film are interested in the posters about the 13/18 Watchout Situations. Below is an example of one that was hand-colorized by a member of the El Cariso Hotshots in 1972.

Two movies in development about fatal wildfires

Development is moving forward on two movies about wildfires on which multiple firefighters were killed.

In February, 2013 John N. Maclean announced that he had signed a deal to have his book about the 2006 Esperanza fire made into a movie. A screenplay is being written by Sean O’Keefe, and Jim Mickle, a well-regarded Indie director, has been signed to direct the project. Not too much is happening on it right now since Mr. Mickle is tied up making another movie.

But that could change since another wildfire film has been announced. Legendary Pictures, which bought the rights to Mr. Maclean’s book, may decide to move things along more quickly so that they can release it before a planned movie about the Yarnell Hill Fire hits theaters.

Below is an excerpt from a May 27, 2015 article in the Daily Courier:

A movie about Prescott’s fallen hotshot firefighters is still in the works, although some of the players have changed.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura of “Transformers” fame is in the development stage for the movie, planning the elements of the film, his publicist Arnold Robinson of Rogers and Cowan said.

Ken Nolan, screenwriter of “Black Hawk Down,” currently is writing the script, Robinson added.

“There are no actors attached to the project at this time, but discussions with talent are taking place,” Robinson said. Director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart” and “Out of the Furnace”) is no longer planning to work on the hotshot film, his spokesperson Jennifer Hillman of Creative Artists Agency said.

Hopefully production on the hotshots movie will begin late this year or early next year, Robinson said. There is no timeframe for when the film will be in theaters…

Five wildland firefighters were killed on the 2006 Esperanza Fire, and 19 died on the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Chris.

Errors in a review of a book about the Yarnell Hill Fire

The article below was written by John N. Maclean and Holly Neill.

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The Wall Street Journal and Fire

By John Maclean and Holly Neill

Kyle Dickman’s new book, On the Burning Edge, about hotshot culture and the Yarnell Hill Fire, has been reviewed in the Saturday, May 23, edition of the Wall Street Journal by Mark Yost, who is identified as a firefighter and paramedic from Highwood, Illinois. The review makes a number of errors and misleading assertions about fire policy and the Yarnell Hill Fire independent of the material in Dickman’s book. Journal reviews receive respectful attention, but the review is wrong on so many points that it should be answered in a timely fashion–Maclean is preparing a review of Dickman’s book for the Journal of Forestry, but that won’t appear for several months.

Yost writes: “The policy of letting low burns do their work was in place until the 1980s, when environmentalists began lobbying for letting underbrush and tracts of forest go uncut, unmanaged and uncleared by small fires. The result was denser forests and forest beds of virtual kindling.”

Response: As every student of wildfire knows, after the Big Burn of 1910 the Forest Service developed a policy, in force for many decades, to put out all fires by 10 AM the morning after they were spotted.

Yost writes: “The Yarnell assignment came on a Sunday, normally a day off for the crew. The fire, started by lightning the day before…”

Response: The fire was started Friday, June 28, 2013, two days before the fatalities occurred on Sunday.

Yost writes: “When the Granite Mountain crew arrived, the flames were closing in on the small town of Yarnell.”

Response: When the Granite Mountain crew arrived on Sunday morning, the flames, which were far from Yarnell, were headed north and away from the town, toward Peeples Valley.

Yost writes that the lookout, Brendan McDonough, was in his fourth season.

Response: McDonough was in the beginning of his third season.

Yost writes that when the fire turned toward Yarnell, in the afternoon, McDonough “was no longer in a position to see what was going on and warn his crewmates.”

Response: McDonough reported to Jesse Steed, acting Granite Mountain Superintendent (normally assistant superintendent) that he could see that the fire had reached his trigger point and he was departing, which he did. At that point, photo and other evidence proves that Steed and the other hotshots could see exactly what the fire was doing.

Yost writes that Eric Marsh, (normally the superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots), was “attached to the command staff on the day of the Yarnell fire, he was at first stationed in a makeshift outpost along a highway.”

Response: Marsh was never stationed at a makeshift outpost. He led the crew to the fire by scouting ahead and flagging an upward route. As far as being “attached to the command staff,” Marsh was made division Alpha supervisor and performed that duty in the field.

Yost writes: “The Granite Mountain crew had left the black and were working on the side of a hill, a dangerous position, Mr. Dickman explains, because it put them in danger of the fire coming down on top of them.

Response: The hotshots were digging direct handline, with one foot in the black, on the side of the hill. There was risk of the fire coming up to them from below, not coming down on top of them from the black above.

Yost writes: “Some investigators have speculated that, when the wind reversed, sending flames speeding toward the firefighters, they made a desperate attempt to get to a nearby horse farm and just didn’t make it.”

Response: No serious investigator has made that charge. It is agreed, and supported by photo and recorded radio exchanges as well as interview accounts, that the hotshots deliberately left their position and headed toward the ranch, which was identified as a safety zone. The ranch is not a horse farm: it is owned by Lee and DJ Helm who keep pets, including miniature horses, donkeys and shelter animals.

Yost writes about the fatalities, “In the event, the fire moved so fast that rescuers were able to get to the team within minutes—but too late.”

Response: Firefighters work as crews, not as teams. It took an hour and 43 minutes, or 103 minutes, from the time Eric Marsh said over the radio that the crew was deploying until a medic reached the deployment site, according to official investigation records.

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The book review in the Wall Street Journal can be seen HERE, but you generally have to be a paid subscriber to view it. However, mobile phone users can sometimes read it without a subscription.

John N. Maclean has written several books about wildland fire, including “Fire on the Mountain”, “Fire and Ashes”, and “The Thirtymile Fire”. His most recent book, “The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder and the Agony of Engine 57”, is slated to be made into a movie. Currently he is working on a book about the Yarnell Hill Fire.