“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.

Six students receive scholarships honoring victims of Yarnell Hill Fire

Intended for one recipient, unexpected donated funds allowed six students to receive scholarships.

Photo above: left to right starting at the top: Tri-City College Prep Winners: Hannah Leber, MaKaylee Call and Shelbyrae Myers. Bagdad High School Winners: Alexandra Provencio and Marissa Rottnek. Prescott High School winner: Morgan Feingold.

(Guest post written by Katie Knoll)

PRESCOTT, ARIZ. (May 24, 2016) – Six Yavapai-area high school students each received $2,000 Grant McKee Service and Leadership Scholarships during May’s North Star Youth Partnership’s Celebration of Community breakfast.  The annual breakfast recognizes North Star’s teen leaders, programs, community partners, and volunteers. Originally intended as a single $2,000 scholarship, additional unexpected funds from the Taylor Family Foundation and the American Legion in Prescott allowed for each of the six finalists to win a scholarship.

“Seeing the shock and joy on the girls’ faces was priceless, and it was so much fun to have an ‘Oprah moment’ as everyone got a scholarship!” says Diane DeLong, North Star’s Senior Program Manager.

Grant Quinn McKee was one of the 19 firefighters who perished in the Yarnell fire in 2013, and he will forever be remembered for his service to the community, his leadership skills, and his desire to make the world a better place.  At Prescott High School, McKee was a member of North Star Youth Partnership’s Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) Program.  This scholarship, in its third year, honors McKee’s memory along with his cousin Robert Caldwell, a fellow Hot Shot and leader who also perished in the fire.

To qualify for the scholarship, students were required to be members of a PAL school program, which help teens learn skills to make a positive difference in their schools, community, and their own life.  PAL trains teens in communication and facilitation skills, active listening, decision-making, and problem solving, and PAL also exposes youth to service projects that impact their schools and communities.

The scholarship winners are Shelbyrae Myers, MaKaylee Call, and Hannah Leber, each of Tri-City College Prep; Morgan Feingold of Prescott High School; and Alexandra Provencio and Marissa Rottnek of Bagdad High School.  Each young woman wowed the scholarship review panel with her scholastic achievements, extracurricular activities, and community service.

Applications for the 2017 Grant McKee and Robert Caldwell Service and Leadership Scholarship will be accepted through North Star beginning January 2017.

For more information about North Star Youth Partnership and the Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) program or the Grant McKee/Robert Caldwell Service and Leadership Scholarship, please contact Diane DeLong, Senior Program Manager, at ddelong@cc-az.org.

Founded in 1933, Catholic Charities provides care for the vulnerable of all faiths in Phoenix and northern Arizona through programs in foster care, early start education, housing, veteran services, refugee relocation and poverty reduction. Learn more by visiting www.catholiccharitiesaz.org. Social connections include www.facebook.com/CatholicCharitiesAZ and twitter.com/CCArizona.

Lone survivor from Yarnell Hill Fire publishes book

In “My Lost Brothers” Brendan McDonough writes about his journey of becoming a wildland firefighter, and the loss of his 19 “brothers” in 2013 on the fire in Arizona.

Above: Most, but not all, of the members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots at the world’s largest alligator juniper tree in 2013. The crew protected it while fighting the Doce Fire near Prescott, Arizona about two weeks before the tragedy at Yarnell. Photo by Chris Mackenzie.

Last August I interviewed Brendan McDonough, the only firefighter of the 20-person Granite Mountain Hotshot crew that survived the Yarnell Hill Fire south of Prescott, Arizona in June, 2013

He told me that he was working on a book about his life – his background, drug problems, burglary conviction, and becoming a father at age 19. “That’s what I’m saying in the book,” he said. “I’m sharing the stories and the great memories I have of them, and I’m telling my stories about Yarnell – what I saw, how I felt, and what I think happened.”

He said working on the book was therapeutic for him, collaborating with best-selling author Stephan Talty, author of A Captain’s Duty about Richard Phillips, captain of the MV Maersk Alabama that was captured by Somali pirates and later rescued by Navy SEALs.

My Lost Brothers: The Untold Story by the Yarnell Hill Fire’s Lone Survivor, is scheduled for release on May 3, 2016 but may be available before that in bookstores. After reading an advance copy, I found it to be an extremely personal account of Mr. McDonough’s life before becoming a member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, his experiences while on the crew for three seasons, and how he dealt with the tragedy — the fire that killed 19 of his “brothers” on June 30, 2013.

The 20 men were fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona, 90 miles northwest of Phoenix that day. A passing thunderstorm created very strong outflow winds that suddenly changed the direction the fire was spreading, forcing it to make a right turn. The fire raced toward 19 men on the crew, trapping and killing them in a box canyon. Mr. McDonough survived because he was serving as a lookout in a location separate from the others. He also had a close call as the blaze burned toward him, but was rescued by the crew Superintendent on another Hotshot crew who gave him a ride out of danger on a small utility vehicle.

I was hoping that the book would reveal more about WHY the 19 men left the safety of a previously burned area (the “black”) and hiked cross-country through dense unburned brush where they were entrapped by the fire. That is a crucial piece of the puzzle not yet revealed to the public. A piece that could add to the body of knowledge about firefighting that could be a valuable lesson learned — possibly preventing similar fatalities.

But a clue was in our interview eight months ago when he said:

I would never … if my brothers did make mistakes, I would never keep that a secret to put in a book. There’s nothing that is going to be in there that people don’t already know.

And he was true to his word. While he revealed a great deal about his private life, there is little about what happened on June 30, 2013 that has not already come out in the investigations, reports, and the video recordings made by various firefighters that day that included audio of radios used by firefighters. While there are many quotes of radio conversations in the book, most of them appear to have been previously revealed in the recordings. There are no earth-shaking revelations about who made the crucial decisions, or why, that led to the Granite Mountain Hotshots being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mr. McDonough wrote in the book:

Continue reading “Lone survivor from Yarnell Hill Fire publishes book”

Wildfire briefing, November 2, 2015

Marijuana farms destroyed by California fires

According to reports, the crops from up to 100 marijuana farms were destroyed in wildfires in California this summer. Hardest hit were facilities in Calaveras and Lake counties — the Butte, Rocky, and Valley fires.

State of Arizona argues it can’t be sued over Yarnell Hill Fire

From the Arizona Capitol Times:

Yarnell residents burned out of their homes in 2013 have no right to sue Arizona for their losses, lawyers for the state are arguing.

In filings with the state Court of Appeals, Assistant Attorney General Brock Heathcotte acknowledged the state did attempt to fight the blaze that destroyed more than 120 homes and resulted in the deaths of 19 firefighters. But he said that was only done to protect the state’s own land, “not to provide fire-suppression services to the private-property owners to protect their property.”

“The Yarnell Hill Fire was a natural consequence of natural conditions,” he wrote. “It was naturally ignited (by a lightning strike) on wildland, was fueled by natural vegetation, and spread in response to hot, dry, and windy conditions.”

And what all that means, Heathcotte argued, is there is no right to sue the state even though the fire on state land spread to private property and was not contained there.

The filings come in response to a bid by homeowners to have their day in court. Attorney Craig Knapp, representing the plaintiffs, contends the state is liable because it undertook the chore of defending the community but was negligent in that performance…

Teen who started wildfire to meet with homeowners affected

From Corvallis Gazette-Times:

The Corvallis teen who admitted to starting the Chip Ross Park Fire in September 2014 is set to meet face-to-face with the homeowners and tenants affected by the fire.

Salem-based Neighbor to Neighbor Inc., a mediation company, has been contracted by the Benton County Juvenile Court to facilitate the process between Dawson DeWolfe and the victims of the September 2014 brush fire that destroyed 86 acres south of Chip Ross Park.

In January, Dawson DeWolfe, 16, admitted to misdemeanor charges of reckless burning, reckless endangerment and second-degree criminal mischief in a disposition — the juvenile equivalent of sentencing — in front of Benton County Judge Matthew Donohue. As part of the disposition, DeWolfe was required to attend restitution mediation.

Charlie Ikard, Neighbor to Neighbor executive director, said the mediation process could take several months. Neighbor to Neighbor representatives recently sent out letters to homeowners and tenants who experienced financial loss and direct damage to their properties as a result of the fire. Pre-mediation interviews with the homeowners are scheduled between Nov. 16 and Dec. 4…

Volunteers build sheds for wildfire victims

Building shed
Building a storage shed for a fire victim in Okanogan County, Washington. Screen shot from KXLY.

Some residents whose homes burned in the Tunk Block Fire in Washington are receiving recovery assistance from volunteers. A group from Veteran Community Response, working through Foursquare Church, so far have constructed eight storage sheds for fire victims that they can use while rebuilding their homes.