Former hotshot sues to obtain information about Yarnell Hill Fire

Yarnell Hill Fire
Yarnell Hill Fire at 7:30 p.m. MST, June 29, 2013, approximately 21 hours before the 19 fatalities. Photo by ATGS Rory Collins, Oregon Department of Forestry.

A former hotshot superintendent is suing the Department of Agriculture to get information the U.S. Forest Service so far has not released about the Yarnell Hill Fire. On June 30, 2013, 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew were entrapped and killed on the fire near Yarnell, Arizona.

Fred Schoeffler is seeking recordings or transcripts of radio transmissions with aircraft that were working on the fire.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Republic:

Schoeffler, a former hotshot supervisor in Payson for 26 years, alleges that the Forest Service answered his Freedom of Information Act request by claiming they “did not find any responsive records.” Wildfire officials previously have acknowledged the study was underway, and Schoeffler’s complaint notes that air-to-ground voices of those taking part are audible in Forest Service videos released after the fire.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jeff and Dick.

Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park to open November 30

A 3.6-mile trail leads to the fatality site.

Above: the fatality site in Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park honoring the 19 firefighters. Arizona State Parks photo.

A new state park that honors the 19 firefighters who were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire is set to open to the public on November 30, 2016.

On June 30, 2013 the Granite Mountain Hotshots were fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire near Yarnell, Arizona, 90 miles northwest of Phoenix. 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.

Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park
A bench at Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. Photo by Arizona State Parks.

Legislation appropriated funds to purchase the 308 acres of land on June 30, 2015. The park came to life thanks to public donations, volunteers, staff from Arizona State Parks, and a generous donation from the Arizona Public Service Foundation.

Granite Mountain HotshotsFrom the trailhead on Highway 89 approximately two miles west of Yarnell, hiking 2.85 miles up a steep slope then along a ridge will take the visitor to an observation deck overlooking the fatality site. Another .75 mile downhill and you will be at the location where the Hotshots deployed their fire shelters. There is an approximate 1,200 foot elevation gain.

Along the trail are 19 stone plaques honoring each of the fallen Granite Mountain Hotshots and six interpretive signs that tell their story. At the end of the trail steel and stones now surround the barren earth to protect and preserve the area where the hotshots bravely made their last stand. A quiet path and benches offer a space to reflect.

Yarnell Hill Fire firefighters killed
The 19 firefighters that were killed on the Yarnell Hill Fire.

“The families and the communities of Prescott and Yarnell have worked hand-in-hand with the state to develop Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park,” said Sue Black, Executive Director of Arizona State Parks. “We truly want the memorial to be a place for healing and to honor the lives and legacy of 19 hotshots.”

A dedication ceremony for family members and involved officials is scheduled for November 29, and the park will open to the public the following day.

(Maps are below)

Continue reading “Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park to open November 30”

Yarnell Hill Fire homeowners ask appellate court to allow them to sue the state

Above: Hearing in the Court of Appeals, September 21, 2016. Screen grab from video.

From the Insurance Journal:

Attorneys for Yarnell residents who lost their homes in the deadly 2013 Arizona wildfire are asking the Court of Appeals to allow their clients to sue the state.

KJZZ-FM reported that previously homeowners sued the state Forestry Division, but a trial judge dismissed the case concluding the state had no duty to protect the residents’ property.

At a hearing [September 21, 2016] an attorney for the state said Arizona is not responsible for protecting everyone who chooses to live adjacent to wilderness.

Plaintiffs’ attorney David Abney says that since the state fought the fire, it voluntarily agreed to try to protect Yarnell. Abney wants the appellate court to give his clients a chance to make their case to a jury.

The 2013 Yarnell wildfire killed 19 firefighters and burned more than 120 homes.

To our knowledge, the Court of Appeals has not yet handed down their decision.

Video from the hearing is available on YouTube.

“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.