Video records the last radio transmissions from Granite Mountain Hotshots

The video above, shot with a helmet camera, recorded the last two and a half minutes of radio transmissions with the Granite Mountain Hotshots before their radio contact was cut off as they were entrapped and killed by the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona on June 30, 2013.

Some of this radio conversation has already been released in the first report (on page 27) issued by the Arizona State Forestry Division in September. However, some parts were left out in that report, such as the exact wording of this:

Bravo 33: OK, unit that’s hollering in the radio, I need you to quit. And break, Operations, Bravo 33.

In the video, Bravo 33 was the Aerial Supervision Module, doing two jobs at the same time, Air Attack and Lead Plane.

My thoughts on the video are below, and following that is a transcript.

At 1558, 35 minutes before the first emergency transmission from Granite Mountain at 1633, the Air Tactical Group Supervisor, ATGS, abruptly left the fire and went to Deer Valley. He turned air tactical operations over to an Aerial Supervision Module, ASM2 or Bravo 33. Bravo 33 got a very brief update from ATGS that did not include division break locations and the location of the on-the-ground firefighters.

Bravo 33 was not briefed adequately and was overwhelmed with the duties of both the ASM and Lead Plane, and was no doubt communicating with multiple people on several frequencies. He had difficulty, as would anyone, attempting to do too many things at the same time during extreme conditions on the fire which was burning into Yarnell.

This is the problem with combining the two roles, which the U.S. Forest Service is doing more often, perhaps in an effort to save money. In this case, it contributed to confusion and one person being overwhelmed with his duties, which kept piling up.

The radio conversations pointed out that there may have been an unnecessary delay of more than two minutes in getting aircraft — helicopters and a Very Large Air Tanker — headed toward the approximate location of Granite Mountain, but their exact location was not known. Several people recorded by the video understood that Granite Mountain had a serious problem, but it took Bravo 33 about two minutes to absorb that information. He may have been dealing with other issues on other frequencies, while also serving as lead plane.

It is also possible that if Bravo 33 had been orbiting overhead instead of also having to act as lead plane, he might have been able to see the big picture on the fire and, in spite of the quick briefing he received, he may have figured out more quickly that the Granite Mountain Hotshots were walking into a death trap well before they met their demise.

However, even if there had not been the two minute delay, under the wind, vegetation, smoke, and extreme burning conditions it is unlikely that air tankers and helicopters if they had been over the Hotshots would have been able to save the crew. The rate of spread and intensity of the fire was extreme, and the strong wind would have blown the retardant or water off target. In the smoke the pilots probably would not have been able to see the firefighters. And the fire would have burned through the retardant even if it had landed in the desired location.

Aerial fire resources are not effective in extreme wind and burning conditions.

Below is the official transcript provided with the video:


Date Modified: 6/30/2013 4:33:12 PM

00:00 (16:33:12 hours)

Bravo 33: Have it on scene here we’re gonna, gonna try and do what we can with that valley in the smoke where it’s kinda tough on us but we’ll, we’ll give it a shot, break uh, Structure 1, Bravo 33 on air to ground.

00:13 (16:33:25 hours)

Granite Mountain Hotshots: (Transmission very over modulated) Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front.

00:25 (16:33:37 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: We’ve got fire right over here now.

00:27 (16:33:39 hours)

Operations: Bravo 33, Operations, you copying that on air to ground?

00:33 (16:33:42 hours)

Granite Mountain Hotshots: (wind in the camera microphone) Air to ground 16, Granite Mountain, Air Attack, how do you read?

00:35 (16:33:44 hours)

Operations: (Not sure of frequency, low volume, first part of the transmission cut off)

00:37 (16:33:46 hours)

Unseen firefighters on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: Is Granite still in there?

Firefighter: Well they’re in a safety zone.

Firefighter: The black.

00:47 (16:33:56 hours)

Operations: Granite Mountain, Operations on air to ground.


00:53 (16:34:02 hours)

Granite Mountain 7: (Chainsaws can be heard in the background of the radio transmission) Air Attack, Granite Mountain 7, how do you copy me?

00:57 (16:34:06 hours)

Unseen firefighters on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: Is that Eric?

Firefighter: I heard Granite Mountain 7.

Firefighter: I hear saws running. That’s not good.

Firefighter: Not when they are in a safety……

01:04 (16:34:12 hours)

Bravo 33: Operations, Bravo 33, I was copying that traffic on air to ground.

01:07 (16:34:15 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: (Talking amongst themselves) (a lot of wind in the camera microphone)

Firefighter: I heard Granite Mountain 7

Firefighter: Yea

01:15 (16:34:23 hours)

Operations: 3, Operations on air to ground.

01:17(16:34:25 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay, I was copying a little bit of that, uh conversation uh, on air to ground. We’re, we’ll do the best we can. We got the type 1 helicopters ordered back in. Uh, we’ll see what we can do.

01:30 (16:34:48 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: (Talking amongst themselves) Holy…..

01:31 (16:34:49 hours)

Operations: Bravo 33, Operations, on air to ground.

01:38 (16:34:56 hours)

Bravo 33: Operations, Bravo 33.

01:40 (16:34:58 hours)

Granite Mountain 7: Air Attack, Granite Mountain 7!

01:43 (16:35:01 hours)

Unseen firefighters on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: This ain’t good.

Firefighter: No, he’s screamin’.

01:45 (16:35:03 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay, uh, unit that’s hollerin’ in the radio, I need you to quit, and ah break, Opreations, Bravo 33

01:54 (16:35:12 hours)

Operations: Okay Granite Mountain 7 sounds like they got some trouble, uh, go ahead and get that, he’s trying to get you on the radio, let’s go ahead and see what we’ve got going on.

02:01 (16:35:19 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay copy that, uh, I’ll get with Granite Mountain 7 then.

02:07 (16:35:25 hours)

Division Alpha: Bravo 33, Division Alpha with Granite Mountain.

02:12 (16:35:30 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay uh Division Alpha, Bravo 33.

02:13 (16:35:31 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: I can’t tell.

02:15 (16:35:33 hours)

Division Alpha: Yea, I’m here with Granite Mountain Hotshots, our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burned out around ourselves in the brush and I’ll give you a call when we are under the she, the shelters.

02:30 (16:35:48 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay copy that. So you’re on the south side of the fire then?

(Unseen firefighters on the road are also talking, mumbling)

02:35 (16:35:53 hours)

Division Alpha: Affirm!

02:37 (16:35:55 hours)

Bravo 33: K, we’re gonna bring you the VLAT okay.

02:39 (16:35:57 hours):

Unseen firefighter on the road gets into vehicle and begins driving at 02:54.

02:56 (16:36:14 hours)

Bravo 33: Division Alpha, Bravo 33 on air to ground.

03:17 (16:36:35 hours):

(Radio squelch break on an unknown radio frequency. Cannot understand what is being transmitted.)

03:26 (16:36:43 hours)

Bravo 33: Is that Division Alpha, Bravo 33 on air to ground.

03:46 (16:37:03 hours)

Bravo 33: Division Alpha, Bravo 33 on air to ground.

03:53 (16:37:10 hours)

Bravo 33: Okay, uh, we’re workin’ our way around there. We’ve got uh several aircraft commin’ to ya. We’ll see if we can’t take care of business for you.

04:05 (16:37:22 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: Make sure this guy…..

04:07 (16:37:24 hours)

Bravo 33: Division Alpha, Bravo 33, I need you to pay attention and tell me when you hear the aircraft okay. Cuz it’s gonna be a little tough for us to see ya.

04:18 (16:37:35 hours):

(Radio squelch break on an unknown radio frequency. Cannot understand what is being transmitted.)

04:30 (16:37:47 hours)

Bravo 33: Oaky uh

04:44 (16:38:01 hours)

Bravo 33: Division Alpha, Bravo 33. Do you hear a helicopter?

04:48 (16:38:03 hours):

(Radio squelch break on an unknown radio frequency. Cannot understand what is being transmitted.)

04:54 (16:38:09 hours):

(Radio transmission from unknown frequency.)

Person: Two we are in Yarnell

04:56 (16:38:11 hours)

Firefighter on the road: We need a, I need to clone a mobile so we can hear what’s going on.

04:58 (16:38:13 hours):

(Radio transmission from unknown frequency.)

Person: Copy, I’ll be commin’ out to the road, it’s by a mini storage right at the north end of town.

Person: Great, that’s right where we’re staged.

05:08 (16:38:23 hours):

(Heavy radio traffic. Unknown radio frequencies. Transmissions from unknown resources.)

05:18 (16:38:33 hours)

Firefighters on the road: (Talking amongst themselves) (Conversation isn’t understandable. Heavy wind noise in the camera microphone)

05:23 (16:38:38 hours)

Firefighters on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: So they are, did they deploy? They say?

Firefighter: They said they’d let when they deployed.

Firefighter: You have you’re radio on?

Firefighter: Yea.

05:33 (16:38:48 hours):

(Radio transmission from unknown frequency.) (This radio conversation continues until 05:43 (16:38:58 hours))

05:37 (16:38:53 hours)

Firefighter on the road: What tac is Jason on?

05:58 (16:39:14 hours):

(Radio squelch break on an unknown radio frequency. Cannot understand what is being transmitted.)

06:30 (16:39:46 hours):

(Radio transmission from unknown frequency.)

Person: Taskforce

06:42 (16:39:58 hours):

(Radio transmission on air to ground from unknown resource)

Person: Bravo 33 on air to ground.

06:52 (16:40:08 hours)

Bravo 33: Granite Mountain 7, Bravo 33 air to ground.

06:58 (16:40:14 hours):

(Radio transmission from unknown frequency.) (Transmission cannot be understood)

07:24 (16:40:40 hours)

Taskforce 2: (the beginning of the transmission isn’t understandable)

???…Taskforce 2 on Tac 3

Person: Yea go.

Taskforce 2: I didn’t copy….(the transmission becomes unreadable)

Person: You have fire from Lockwood and (not readable) Drive. Intersection.

07:48 (16:41:04 hours)

Unseen firefighter on the road: (Talking amongst themselves)

Firefighter: Hey

07:49: (16:41:05)

(End of video)

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

43 thoughts on “Video records the last radio transmissions from Granite Mountain Hotshots”

  1. I believe Granite Mountain Hotshots used “Crew 7” as their local dispatch identifier and it dates back prior to their hotshot status. I have seen crew sweatshirts from their Type 2 IA days with a “Crew 7” logo.

  2. Often times they used Crew 7 as an identifier on local fires and talking to dispatch. Don’t recall them using Granite Mountain 7 as a crew identifier but is possible under the circumstances. Granite Mountain 7 could have been an individual identifier which can be found on the crew manifest.

  3. Question. It seems like I read something about the name of GMIHC before they became a Type 1 crew. Was their name Granite Mountain 7? Thanks for any input

  4. A Note of interest
    Our local paper is running a 4 day information articles on wild land fire fatalities and lessons learned. ( Times News Twin Falls ID ) The first article today was on the Yarnell fire. One statement from Jim Cook National interagency Fire Center in Boise Just retired. Eric Marsh was not division Supervisor qualified.
    New to me if correct. You can read the article at– Good article.

    1. Eric Marsh WAS a fully qualified DIVS. I’ve contated the newspaper and they are going to make a correction.

      1. Hotshot88, Was this the first time Eric Marsh had been a Division Supervisor? I have seen it suggested that it was possibly the first time. Also wondering if you know exactly what time on 6/30 Marsh became DIV A? Thanks

      2. In my opinion, the bigger issue should address span of control and using an IHC Supe as a DIVS; it’s an important system of checks and balances that has 2 folks looking at a situation instead of just 1 person filling 2 roles. That’s why we have Safety Officers in addition to OPS Chiefs looking at the ISC 215 for every operational period. Also, Safety Officers are DIVS qualified, but don’t fill that role because it compromises their responsibilities and objectivity.

      3. Thanks I was surprised when I saw it but it came from a reliable person. I am assuming he was misquoted.

  5. Direct is fighting the fire head on. Right up at the flaming front. Flanking is working along the edge of the fire, to the point you get around the head of the fire. In theory, if you work the flanks, get around the head, viola.. Fire contained.

    Indirect is where you cannot work directly on any si

    1. Cell phone glitch..

      Any part of the fire that you can not action because of heat and or rate of spread, you back off a fair distance, build your guard and burn off. The fire you light from your guard will be less intense than the main fire, hopefully burning into the main fire because of convection, robbing the main fire of fuel when it reaches your backing fire that you lit from a defendable guard/line/road/creek….

      1. Sometimes you back WAY OFF and ignite a massive backfire that will remove all fuels before the main fire gets there. I have ignited backfires, via helicopter several miles away from the main front, drawing the backfire into the main fire.

        In 2011, I burned off 40 000 acres in front of a million acre fire, in Alberta, to prevent it from burning up an oil refinery. Hail Mary attempt to save the facility….It worked… After the flame fronts met, it looked like the surface of the moon. All vegatation, trees included, were fully consumed….

        Ps…. Some days I LOVE my job…..

  6. What does “go direct” mean, in terms of fighting a wildfire it? I could “google” it, but I’d like to hear what those of you who have actually done fire-fighting would consider it to mean. Thank you.

    1. Elizabeth Direct is one foot in the black from an anchor point. Directly on the burned line not out in the middle of unburned fuel.
      a lot of things have to be in your favor to build indirect line. It can be done but you better be following protocol.

    2. Elizabeth, here are the definitions from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology:

      Direct Attack: Any treatment applied directly to burning fuel such as wetting, smothering, or chemically quenching the fire or by physically separating the burning from unburned fuel. [note from Bill: to sum up, any action taken to suppress the fire on the edge of the fire]

      Indirect Attack: A method of suppression in which the control line is located some considerable distance away from the fire’s active edge. Generally done in the case of a fast-spreading or high-intensity fire and to utilize natural or constructed firebreaks or fuelbreaks and favorable breaks in the topography. The intervening fuel is usually backfired; but occasionally the main fire is allowed to burn to the line, depending on conditions.

      1. Thank you very much.

        One more thing: I have now read through the 60 pages of interview notes once. I am sure I need to read at least twice more. But I made a note to myself to figure out more about Darryl Starr and Tyson Esquibel in terms of what their role was on the fire that day. Their interview notes really stuck out to me. Also, note that Marsh was not “appointed” DivsA until he was already out in the field. Lastly, note that Marquez left because – according to him – he and Marsh had agreed that Marquez should go out and scout another route to use to get better access to fight the fire.

  7. In case anyone was wondering… the exact LOCATION for where this video
    was shot was right near the St. Joseph Shrine area. The camera operator
    was standing just at the point where the pavement ends on Shrine road
    and the dirt track part begins.

    The yellow sign by the right side of the road about a hundred feet to the
    west at the start of the video actually says “No Outlet”… and the small
    square brown sign seen on the left side of the road when the camera
    pans to the east for a moment says ‘Shrine’.

    The camera operator was standing exactly here…

    Latitude: 34.227234
    Longitude: -112.752814

    34.227234, -112.752814

    Just cut-and-paste the line above with the comma between the two values
    into the search bar of Google Maps and then hit ENTER. A large GREEN
    ARROW will appear on the map pointing to exactly where the camera
    was filming this video. Just zoom down a few times and you will see
    the spot where the Shrine Road pavement ends and the dirt part begins
    as seen in the video.

    The video was also shot at the exact moment when both the SAIR and
    the ADOSH fire progression charts show the fireline ‘surrounding’ the
    St. Joseph Shrine area and that is why the video itself shows fire
    all around them. A trick of geography made a ‘loop’ in the fireline that
    ended up ‘surrounding’ this spot before the loop closed to the east and
    this location was then totally engulfed in flames.

    These guys seen in the video are actually only moments away from
    death themselves. If the ‘loop’ had closed around the area to the east
    just a few minutes earlier than it actually did… they would have been
    trapped right where we see them in the video.

    Also… the ‘mini-storage’ facility referenced in the transcript and which is
    where these men were headed as they evacuated the Shrine road area
    is exactly here…

    Latitude: 34.231000
    Longitude: -112.739872

    34.231000, -112.739872

    Again… just cut-and-paste the line above with the comma in the Google
    Maps search bar, hit ENTER, and the GREEN ARROW shows the spot.

    You could also just drop this address into the Google Maps search bar
    and the red marker will be right on the exact location…

    21972 Arizona 89, Yarnell, AZ

    This is the same crew and the same mini-storage facility seen in the
    public YouTube video entitled…

    Yarnell Hill Fire 6/30/2013. Globe Type II Crew.

    This just one of four public YouTube videos uploaded back in October
    by this ‘Globe Type II’ crew and a YouTube user with the account name
    of ‘4490red’… and it shows a VLAT drop just near that ‘U-Store-It’ facility
    with the white Globe Type II ‘Crew Trucks’ in the foreground and the
    ‘Ranger 58′ radio traffic heard right after the drop.

    That video was shot probably just moments after this crew evacuated
    from the Shrine road and arrived at this U-Store-It facility.

    Just go to YouTube and search for user name 4490red and you will
    find all FOUR of these videos from the Yarnell fire that day.

    The ABOUT information uploaded by them with the video shot at
    the U-Store-It facility says…

    Yarnell Hill Fire 6/30/2013. Globe Type II Crew.
    Uploaded by YouTube user: 4490red
    Published on Oct 6, 2013
    Yarnell Hill Fire. 6/30/2013. DC-10 Tanker drop just
    east of Glen Ilah. After the wind shift. Right around
    the time of the entrapment.

    1. By the way… there is actually active Google Street View data
      for the point above… where the camera operator was
      actually standing… but the Google Street View data ENDS
      just about 10 feet west of that point.

      So you can simply drag the little ‘Street View’ icon to the point
      above and see exactly what is in the video when you look from
      left to right… but just make sure you are either on the point
      itself or just east of it… otherwise… Google Street View will
      say ‘no data’.

      The Google Street View car did NOT proceed west onto
      the dirt part of Shrine Road. It stopped right there where
      these fireman did when they shot their video.

  8. My understanding is that AZ finally started releasing the un-redacted materials (e.g. interview notes and video) to the people who requested them via FOIL/FOIA yesterday (Friday), at the latest.

    I wish the AZcentral folks or whomever else has already picked up their raw materials (e.g. video clips, interview notes) would post them to their website immediately upon receipt, as the materials come in, rather than waiting to peruse them themselves. I appreciate that they do not want their news story “scooped,” but I respectfully suggest that that is not a realistic fear in this case, given the factual complexity of the materials. To wit, very few media sources have been following the relevant complex, disturbing, nuanced details closely, so the chances of any one of those few sources getting scooped is minimal. It is going to take too long for the others to just PARSE the raw materials. Plus, the sooner folks like Calvin, RS, Bob(s), or TTWARE (or whatever the heck everyone’s acronyms are) get access to the materials, the sooner these men can post their thoughts on websites like these, to hopefully help the media sources that released the raw materials to begin with.

    Here is why I care: The further away from June we get, the less people care about the Yarnell Hill fire tragedy. The less of an impact *any* story is going to have, and the bigger a smoking gun is required to get anyone’s attention.

    If the goal in this case is to *keep* people’s attention, in the hopes of getting some *change,* to protect the fire professionals, then we cannot *afford* to lose anyone’s attention due to the passage of time.

    1. The Republic has posted the interview notes. But that is all there is. No question and answer format, just narrative bullet points of each interview. The Republic surmises there is no actual transcript of these interviews, but surely that is totally absurd. It is redactions without the redactions. They cannot be allowed to get away with this.

      1. Mike, I am pretty sure that there *are* no actual transcripts. The interviewers did not audio-record the interviews. I was told this from a relatively first-hand source, and I tend to believe it because failing to record an interview is *generally* a fancy lawyer trick taught to interviewers.

        Mind you: It is a *totally* counterproductive trick, in my view (as a lawyer). It usually harms the interviewer and the interviewed party FAR more than it helps them. This is also why I cringed when I read Bob-the-Second posting somewhere about Unit Logs often not being written or being written *after* the fact in order to protect against liability. My belief (based on doing empirical research in this area) is that making written documents that are USEFUL and not cryptic or incomplete is HELPFUL in protecting against liability, as opposed to the reverse.

        FYI, the bullets are not the only materials released on Friday (or right before). There are more, which is why I made my plea for folks to share them.

        1. Well then. Not only do we not know answers to questions, we do not even know what questions were and were not asked. Tell me again why the taxpayers paid money for this investigation.

        1. Thank you, Mike. I was not seeing the link on the actual page where I was reading the story.
          (Thanks, by the way, for adding “click on it.” That made me laugh, because you were being extra helpful, in case I was a total idiot. (Laughing again now!)) Thanks.

  9. The idea of tasking both Lead and Air Attack is completely absurd and it is only dreamed up by individuals who do not have the operational knowledge nor the FAA tickets to back up their claims of expertise and “cost savings.”

    If this is offensive……please move on…otherwise get some coo on sense!

    Maybe there will some others that will back their claims.

    I brought this up to a guy that is CURRENTLY doing ISR…..wanna know his views??

    One clue….from the fields of Afghanistan, you know some other actual killing fields, where time may count…..somewhat like the fire ground……

    His views…….like mine……..cost saving and saving lives is an oxymoron.

    Some folks in the luuuuvable LMA’s had better get their heads out of their fourth point of contact………

  10. That video (audio) is unbelievable, I don’t think I breathed for the entire thing. I have heard voices like that, high, panicked. Helpless. Shocked. Always a bad situation. Totally understand Bravo 33 being over tasked. This should PUT AN END to the combining of Lead and Air Attack on highly active fires. Thank God for this.

    1. Joseph, It’s pretty clear from the report that they (the ASM) were handed a S%@* sandwich. There were orders for additional aerial supervision that went unfilled. If it had been a lead instead of an ASM, The ATGS still would have not been on scene. What then? Do you think that the outcome would have been better? In fact, do you think it would have been different if the ATGS AND the ASM were both on scene? While I agree that the complexity of the situation was on the upper end, I’m not sure what you would suggest? Leave? Throw in the towel? Be that as it may… Keep your eye on the ball, here. In the video it was pretty clear that pretty much everyone believed that the crew was in a safety zone. To expect even a stand alone ATGS to know differently is ludicrous. DON’T rely on aircraft. No one seems to know why the ATGS “abruptly” left the fire and returned to Deer Valley. Could have been any number of reasons that we may never know. Yet it happened… And that is why you never plan anything based on the need for aerial assets.

      1. Whew! DRD, I suggest you not be so hard on Joseph. He didn’t say that having only the ASM over the fire caused the fatalities. But it seems reasonable to think that having two platforms instead of one handling a complex fire environment, and dividing up the workload, could have added an element of safety.

        The aerial supervision was only one element, or one slice of the Swiss Cheese model, which is defined in Wikipedia like this:

        In the Swiss Cheese model, an organization’s defenses against failure are modeled as a series of barriers, represented as slices of cheese. The holes in the slices represent weaknesses in individual parts of the system and are continually varying in size and position across the slices. The system produces failures when a hole in each slice momentarily aligns, permitting (in Reason’s words) “a trajectory of accident opportunity”, so that a hazard passes through holes in all of the slices, leading to a failure.

        Having only one aerial supervision platform on a very complex fire gives you one slice with some holes.

        Another slice would be supervision of ground personnel. The holes in that slice were: transitioning that morning from a group of firefighters to only a partial Incident Management Team (all transitions can be tough, but when done hurriedly and to only part of a team, it can be dangerous); removing Supt. Marsh from the Hotshot crew and making him Division Supervisor (a reporter who has seen the recently released documents told me that Marsh did not know he would be Div. Sup. until he got out on the fire line that day); no Safety Officer; no Division Supervisors arriving with the IMTeam; no Div. Sup. on the adjacent Division; an Incident Commander that took over the fire after 10 a.m. that day; decision-making was poor, such as failure to designate division breaks, or decide on and communicate a firefighting strategy likely to be successful.

        Holes in the Planning slice were: no maps given to firefighters that day; no Incident Action Plan that day or the two previous days; there was a poor briefing that morning, which Marsh did not attend because it was given in mid-morning after he and his crew departed the Incident Command Post and headed to their assignment (Marsh did receive some briefing info that morning).

        Holes in the communication slice: incorrect radio programming information was given to firefighters that morning which made radio communication difficult; the overhead, such as it was, did not maintain adequate communication with field personnel, which led to inadequate accountability of personnel who were in harms way; Marsh and Granite Mountain did not clearly tell the Ops Chief where they were and where they were going when they left the secure black en route to the box canyon; the ASM had difficulty communicating with Marsh and Granite Mountain as they became entrapped, due partially most likely, to him being “overwhelmed” (as described by the Blue Ridge firefighters).

        These slices have lots of holes, and when you place the slices next to each other, all it takes is one more hazard that then passes through holes in all of the slices, leading to a failure. Perhaps if one or more of the holes had been plugged by better management, there would have been a more favorable outcome.

      2. DRD, We all come to hear something like this from different perspectives. I have had a very close call in my life. What I heard most in this audio was… silence. The 30 seconds of no response after the terrifying first Granite call. Operations new something was wrong, the firefighters on the audio knew something was wrong. We don’t have the audio of all the frequencies that the ASM was on, the responsibility of an ASM is extreme under far less trying circumstances. My experience has been that when there is a division of aerial communications duties, these overlaps in a/a and a/g communications are reduced. The moments leading up to the entrapment are in no way the fault of the ASM, he was doing everything in his power to make sense of a chaotic situation. But I do not believe that having a separate ATGS and ASM would have made the situation worse. So by default I think it may have been better. Could 30 seconds have made a difference?
        As you point out, this tragedy is not about the aerial supervision at that moment, but a much larger picture. But it gives a great opportunity to revisit the thinking behind combined ASM.

  11. Must be hard for friends and love ones to listen to, however, it is critical to finding the answers, the truth, and finally closure.

    Prayers to the friends and family…


  12. As Mike posted above, I am concerned that we are going down the road of “where was the air attack” as opposed to Entrapment Avoidance by the ground troops. Having spent many, many years on hotshot crews and many years as both a stand alone ATGS and an ASM ATGS, I agree with the opinions stated that basically say no matter how many or how big of aircraft one had “on scene” that the outcome would not have been different.

    My opinion, based on reading all the reports, talking to some of the involved personnel , and having spent many years in the ASM and ATGS positions, is that even if one had a stand alone ATGS on scene, it would not have mattered. Bravo 33 is a professional ASM module, and I am of the opinion, based on all the reports, info and having worked with both the Bravo 33 ASM pilot and ASM ATGS, that they were NOT overwhelmed or stretched anymore than a stand alone ATGS would have been during an entrapment and fire that is going to hell in a handbasket. Could have having a stand alone ATGS on scene along with the ASM (Bravo 33) helped reduce the perceived confusion as to where the crew was?? Definitely maybe.

    Again, the road of Entrapment Avoidance needs to be stressed. Remember the old Australian video that came out about the same time as the “Entrapment Avoidance” presentation was released by the FS after the Thirty Mile fire??.. It called the unburned green the “Deadman Zone”

    How many times do we have to learn the same lesson??

    1. Tony, thank you for commenting. Just so you know, both Bill (who runs this website) and the Prescott FD public info guy (among others) have been very good about explaining repeatedly how different air/more air efforts just before the time of the tragedy would not have changed things. I mention this just so you know that, at least on this website, the air folks are not being thrown under the bus.
      Do you have a view, though, on why Rory Collins would not have wanted to be interviewed for the AZ OSHA investigation? (The report mentions that he was called by them repeatedly and he never responded.) I’m just curious. I am not reading anything into it. To be clear, my impression from the dispatch reports from the day *before* the fire is that Rory Collins was being professional while trying to navigate the chaos of who wanted him where.

    2. I’ve said that over and over UNBURNED FUEL BETWEEN YOU AND THE FIRE has killed a lot of wild land fire fighters in the last 60 years and continues to be the place they end up. This has to become a priority. Its been in the 13 and now 18 for years it needs to be prioritized. In these new burning conditions– thou shell not put yourself in unburned fuel with an active fire without following all of the 10 standard orders. There is a lot of us old school fire fighters that did that for years…LESSIONS LEARNED

  13. The new video/audio released today is going viral.

    It’s only 1:00 AM and I am seeing all the MSM ( MainStream Media )
    feed sites picking it up.

    Going to be a busy MSM cycle tomorrow.

    Newtown 1 year anniversary
    Updates on today’s Colorado School shooting.
    Video/Audio of last moments of Granite Mountain.

  14. That was tough Bill. I had to think long and hard before listening. However, it’s important that people can know all they can, and I appreciate your initiative in obtaining and posting the clip. I am struggling mightily with the whole radio communications and aircraft thing. I agree with your analysis; even instantaneous response from aircraft would likely not have changed the outcome under the conditions. Unfortunately I am quite concerned that, rather than focusing on entrapment avoidance, we are headed on a course that continues (and doubles-down on) the current failed culture of entrapment survival. If you need to have a VLAT orbiting over you, you shouldn’t be there.

  15. Oh my, I don’t know why, but I never imagined we would hear that clip. To hear Eric Marsh’s voice there is crushing.

    One question though. Maybe I am remembering info from early on that has been corrected, but are not those times about 7-8 minutes earlier than what had been reported?

    1. Reply to mike post on December 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      You are right, mike.

      These timeframes are WAAY earlier than anything published
      in any report so far.

      If Steed ( we can be sure it was him now ) first reported
      they were ‘in front of the flaming front’ at 1633, as this
      timeframe seems to report, versus 1639 as the SAIR
      and ADOSH report… then that blows a LOT of assumptions
      and analysis out of the water.

      A 6 minute difference in this timeframe is CRUCIAL.

      It makes a LOT of other things wrong… including most of
      the ‘official’ fire progression charts published so far.

      Time to straighten all this out and see what the ‘new’
      ( actual? ) timeline shows/tell us.

      We also now see SECONDS values on the timestamps
      for the first time. If the ‘clock’ being used here on this
      video is absolutely correct… a lot of things change now.

      1. I would caution against putting too much stock in the timestamp on the recording until you know how that camera gets it’s clock setting. Is it set manually by the operator, derived from an internal GPS, or taken from the clock setting on the computer that the camera was most recently connected to? If it’s from a connected computer, how did that computer set it’s clock? Best case scenario would be if the actual recording included a clock/watch/phone display on the video that could be used to verify the camera timestamp. Second best would be correlating any of the radio transmissions on the recording with a credible radio log.
        Just sounding a note of caution here before something gets blown out of proportion.

        1. Mr. Tissell. This whole situation is out of proportion. There are 19 dead men. There is no reasonable explanation. At this point, we do not know which information is accurate. An example of this is that Mr. Mcdonough has stated two times (Prescott Daily Courier interview 8/7/2013 and Yarnell interview notes 7/5/2013) that he actually left his lookout post shortly after 1445. This is a full hour before the SAIR or the WFAR report indicates that he left. And his assertion of leaving at 1445 is backed up by BR comments in Yarnell interview notes that state….They only heard 1 wx update prior to picking Brendan up (P9). There is a lot of information in the interview notes that were released last week that do not support the information that has been reported by the SAIT and ADOSH.
          Question. Do the start and stop times on the flight records from page 100-102 of SAIR indicate liftoff times and arrival times back to airport, or does the stop time indicate when retardant has been delivered, and does not include the return flight?

  16. Dear God. That video is tough to hear. Thank you for sharing this information, Bill. Godspeed to the 19 men.
    (I was told by AZ that a CD in response to my FOIL/FOIA request was put in the mail today. I take it you got yours today, Bill? Or are you finding information like the above recording elsewhere?)


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