Discoveries in Yarnell Hill Fire recordings provide new information about location of Eric Marsh

New examinations of recordings of radio transmissions on the Yarnell Hill Fire have provided previously unknown information about the location of Eric Marsh during the hour before 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, including Mr. Marsh, were entrapped and killed on the fire, June 30, 2013. Mr. Marsh was the Superintendent of the crew, but was serving as Division Supervisor of the area of the fire that day on which the crew was working.


Was Eric Marsh at the Ranch When the Hotshots Headed Down the Hill?

By Holly Neill and John N. Maclean

A series of previously undisclosed radio transmissions by Eric Marsh, superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, show that he communicated regularly with supervisors about his crew’s position – and that of his own – on the Yarnell Hill Fire as they moved in their final minutes toward a ranch that had been previously identified as a safety zone.

Contrary to assertions in the Serious Accident Investigation Report and elsewhere, and just minutes before the crew was entrapped, Marsh told incident supervisors “I’m at the house” and that his crew was “coming down from the heel of the fire.” Marsh’s radio transmissions that placed him at the house (presumably the Boulder Springs Ranch where the crew was heading), upset official and unofficial notions of where Marsh was and what he was doing.

The radio communications, although muffled and difficult to make out, can be heard in the background on several audio/video recordings of pilot radio transmissions during the fire – radio communications that were publicly released in December by the Arizona State Forestry Division. The documents were included in the records of the Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT), which produced a report in September of 2013. Those documents were then passed along to the Arizona Department of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH), which issued a separate report in December.

In those reports, though, there is no mention of at least two recently discovered conversations, including the one in which Marsh said he was at the ranch house. Holly Neill, a retired wildland firefighter with 12 seasons of experience, has been researching the Yarnell Hill Fire; she discovered the conversations while going over the SAIT investigation records.

The conversations are being disclosed on to facilitate the ongoing investigation into the fire and the deaths of Marsh and 18 other members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. A transcript and identifying notes about the conversations have been turned over to ADOSH.


Several voices can be heard on the recordings, some of which are identifiable and some of which are not. Marsh has a distinctive voice, soft and slow, and it is reasonably certain that the transmissions below are correctly attributed to him. ADOSH officials are currently studying the recordings to make their own evaluation.

The transmissions occur between 3:42 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on June 30, 2013. The last known radio transmission from the doomed hotshots occurred at 4:42 p.m. when Marsh confirmed that he was with the hotshots and that they were deploying fire shelters.

The first communication at 3:42 p.m. is brief.

“Division Alpha, Operations Musser,” indicates that Musser called Marsh on the radio. This may be part of an exchange referred to in the ADOSH report, which indicates that sometime between 3:45 and 4:00, Musser requested that Granite Mountain IHC send some resources down to Yarnell – and that the hotshots refused this request.

The second communication at roughly 3:50 p.m. was alluded to in later reports, but the full quote, which adds the promise of air support, was not reported. This conversation indicates that Todd Abel, IMT operations chief, knew that Marsh was making his way down first, ahead of the crew. Abel advises that the crew should hunker and be safe in the meantime. Abel says in SAIT interview notes that he does not remember the exchange.

Marsh:  “I’m trying to work my way off the top.”

Todd Abel, operations section chief:  “Okay copy, just keep me updated, uh you know, you guys hunker and be safe and then we’ll get some air support down there ASAP.”

The third communication involved several voices and occurred at 4:13 p.m., about 13 minutes later. Someone says the hotshots are “working their way down into the structures,” indicating that it may have been understood that they were heading for Yarnell to take part in structure protection – it has never been confirmed as fact that the hotshots intended to help protect homes. If indeed Marsh was at or near the Boulder Springs Ranch, then he could have been acting as lookout and could have flagged the route down to the ranch for his crew. Marsh has been accused of failing to post a lookout during the crucial minutes and failing to mark, time, or improve the descent route for his crew.

Voice 1: Division Alpha, what’s your status right now?

Marsh:  Ah the guys, ah Granite, is making their way down the escape route from this morning. It’s south, mid-slope, cut vertical.”

Voice 2: “Copy, working their way down into the structures.”

Voice 1:  “ … on the escape route with Granite Mountain right now?”

Marsh:  “Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna jump out at.”

It is likely that Marsh first led a team of sawyers down behind him to improve the route by using a vertical cut-and-slash technique to open up a downhill path. A photo by Granite Mountain IHC crewmember Christopher MacKenzie shows a team of sawyers mobilized and moving south at 3:52. The other crewmembers leave at approximately 4:04 p.m.

The final transmission, at 4:30 p.m., is an exchange apparently between Marsh and someone who is fully aware that the hotshots are coming down off the ridge – and that time is of the essence.

First Voice:  “Copy … coming down and appreciate if you could go a little faster but you’re the supervisor.”

Marsh: “Ah, they’re coming from the heel of the fire … ”

Taken together, these audio transmissions undermine several of the findings and conclusions of the two official fire reports. The SAIT report describes a “gap” in communications by the Granite Mountain Hotshots during 33 crucial minutes, between 4:04 and 4:37 p.m. But two of the recently discovered transmissions occurred during that time.

There is no 33-minute gap.

What has not been discovered thus far is a formal declaration by Marsh that he and his crew were leaving the heel of the fire and heading for the Boulder Springs Ranch – nor has there been found any order to them to do so.

A great deal of miscommunication on the Yarnell Hill Fire has been previously documented, some of it involving the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The newly discovered radio transmissions, though, add to the big picture of what happened. Useful and informative as they may be, they do not answer the remaining questions that still swirl around what happened to the Granite Mountain Hotshots on last summer’s Yarnell Hill Fire.


Regular readers of Wildfire Today will recognize John N. Maclean as the author of “Fire on the Mountain” and “The Esperanza Fire”. Holly Neill, a retired wildland firefighter with 12 seasons experience, has been researching the Yarnell Hill Fire virtually from the day of the fatalities last June 30. She spent six seasons with the National Park Service as a GS-04 engine crew and helitack crew member and GS-05 National Park Service Fire Use Module member. She then put in six seasons as a contractor with the US Forest Service, as a Faller B on a saw team and Incident Command Post radio operator. Neill has made several trips to the scene of the Yarnell Hill Fire and has been working as a research partner with John N. Maclean.

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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.

108 thoughts on “Discoveries in Yarnell Hill Fire recordings provide new information about location of Eric Marsh”

  1. Just thinking about this today. Why would Marsh say, “I’m with Granite Mountain now…” if he was with them the whole time. There is also no mention of intra-crew communications. All shot crews have a crew channel that is not heard by any other fire resources.

  2. Wow!
    Some very good work by Holly Neill.
    I am not familiar with this “vertical cut-and-slash technique”, care to elaborate Bill?
    Seems to me if a saw line was cut from the ridge/black into the ranch it could still be found looking for the brush staubs.
    Could you also post or reference the MacKenzie “sawyers mobilized and moving south at 3:52” photo. I am not seeing this.

  3. Rosie, the photo that is referred to is probably one of the photos on this page on the Prescott Daily Courier website.

    If a saw line was cut all the way from the entrapment site to the ranch safety zone, it could have been obliterated, or parts of it anyway, early the next day when a dozer built a road from the ranch to the entrapment site.

  4. There’s been enough truly weird stuff on the YHF that I wouldn’t discount GM THINKING that a team of sawyers could conceivably cut an escape route through dense chaparral in timely fashion. There’s no way given what they were faced with that they COULD do that, of course, whether that was their intention or not.

    Thanks again to Bill for the excellent reporting here, and to Holly Neil and John Maclean for their efforts in piecing that together.

  5. Joy A Collura: (((reply to—Voice 1: “ … on the escape route with Granite Mountain right now?”Marsh: “Nah I’m at the house where we’re gonna jump out at.”)))–>>> I am very pleased by this discovery. I have not felt the same as some of you out there that this was a mission or order or conspiracy but I have always felt from the deepest part of me that I saw Marsh all through the day- here and there with another or his crew for the briefing up above the Yarnell side fire edge and I always had a view complimentary to Holly Neill’s as we hiked that Fall day. Enough that her and I separated from the men that hike so I could show her what I have been doing because I told Amanda Marsh from day one I did not feel Marsh led them down and I searched for any evidence to support that thought. I don’t know him or even that day never knew he was a GMHS; to me, he was the LOOKOUT…the SCOUT…a man who stated he was awaiting his crew so in some sense a LEADER since he personalized “his” crew. He was ever so soft and kind and amazing to watch him all over that mountain like a rabbit with no sweat. I am grateful that this surfaced for it pleases me to see Marsh was at the ranch house as I felt all along and I wish I could prove he took the short cut I know about but that I could not find anything to support it. He was sooo fast that he got through that brush way ahead of his men. He acted like the lookout the whole day so this just matches to what I have thought all along. I never spoke what you wrote about Holly or John and we never sat and discussed this but you compliment the very thoughts I have on this- THANK YOU DEEPLY! I just hope this does not become a rodeo of bull**** where now people start doing the blame game- this is just to get clarity to prevent this from ever happening to another human being- simple!

    Tex (Sonny) Gilligan: I think it is amazing that you both uncovered the fact that there were communications during that time gap. As Mr. Willis stated in his video these men were certainly headed downhill to protect structures. Musser had to know that. What will come out is who else was privy to the knowledge that those men were dropping off into that trap. We do not know yet if they were unduly encouraged or perhaps ordered to protect those structures. thank you both for adding more clarity to this investigation. We now know Marsh was separate from the men just as we saw Marsh that day.

  6. The reference to the MacKenzie photo is photo #0887 from the link that Bill posted to the Daily Courier website.

  7. Just can’t figure out how Marsh got all the way to the Ranch and then back to the crew when the Burn Over occurred. In addition it stated he was using an escape route planned earlier. Crews don’t make escape routes by cutting through thick brush. The locals stated that the brush was over 6′ tall and at times so thick it was impossible to go through. Some things just don’t add up. Like the Esperanza Fire, we’ll never know the true facts (no survivors).

  8. SR,
    The saw teams left the handline at 1552. The first distress call from GM came at 1639. The distance from the handline to the deployment site is @.98 mile. If we give them @10 minutes to reach the top of deployment valley (.7 mile), they then have @35 minutes to descend to the deployment site. I did not intend to imply that they cut an entire route down, there certainly was not time for that. But there was time to make improvements to select parts of the route by limbing up overhanging/protruding brush, etc. as they descended. It would have been inefficient to cut brush at the base on the way down. Marsh may have brought several saw teams down behind him in case they were needed. It is unknown how much work they did, if any. We will be looking at this in closer detail soon. Chances are any tall stobs left behind would be burned enough to deform any evidence of cutting.

  9. I seriously dought that they got to the ranch and then ran back to the crew 600 yards. in such a short time. Impossible The time needed to cut thru the brush and back 600 yards impossible. I think the word house is wrong, could be place, location, spot etc.. I think he was in the saddle above the canyon bowl and descending with the sawyers cutting trail. Again they went into no mans land and never made it to the ranch Marsh or the sawyers Impossible to have got there and back to the crew caring saws it would have been a 20 min. run back for no reason makes no since.

  10. The statement that indicates the GMH initially refused the assignment to move to the ranch his puzzling. Who refused it? Marsh or the crew leader at the time? What made them change their plan?

  11. A HUGE thanks to all of you who are continuing to search for the truth. There must be something to learn from this horrific event, no, not a blame game, but I want to know minute to minute what actually was happening during the entire horrific weekend as we watched wondering why noone was seriously attacking the fire . It infuriates me when it is implied, or actually stated that the residents of Glen Ilah and Yarnell cared more for their “structures” and are somehow responsible for the deaths of these fine young men. I would burn it willingly if it could only change the outcome for any one of them. The folks who fled this fire still find it hard to believe we got out alive, and noone here died. If the Doce fire had not been seriously attacked, with over 600 firefighters, and heavy air support, and a monsoon had collapsed into it , as happened here in Yarnell, putting a 50 MPH wind behind it, I wonder just how well Prescott would have come out.

  12. In one of Gilligans statements, he sad that the brush up there was primarily chest high, and it was the PRESS who published that it was ten feet high, so one more confusing fact the press got wrong

  13. Hi Holly,

    If the best evidence is that they headed down with saw teams first, then so they did. I guess given the fact that this was a local crew, it is hard for me to get my arms around the fact that they thought that simply limbing up overhanging or protruding brush would go quickly or be successful within any reasonable timeframe if the goal was to get to the ranch more quickly by taking an “improved” route down that bowl created by an advance team. I could see a crew whose predominant experience was with different vegetation thinking this was doable in a short timeframe more easily.

    The math behind their forward progress in fact shows they were descending at a pace equal to a casual walk. They had ample time to decide, after perhaps the first 10 minutes of tough going, that this wasn’t working, with some of the toughest going still ahead. If there was a decision made to try to improve the route at 1552, it also shows that the “escape route” was known to be unimproved and in need of substantial work at that time, with known changes in weather and fire behavior. With all that this implies in terms of the decision to take that route at this time.

    Thanks again to you and Mr. Maclean for your work on this. One possible lesson from all of this is to ensure more focus on awareness of the differences in vegetation as to both fire behavior, and the ability to make progress on foot. And, the hazards of bushwhacking even during low-risk periods, among them that it tends to be slow.

  14. It was never stated that the sawyers reached the ranch, nor is there any evidence to indicate that they reached the ranch and then turned around and went back.. The audio points to Marsh being at the house only.

  15. They only had 4 chain saws and 2 could be seen with the crew at 1602 so if Marsh took 2 saws and swappers (2) Why not the whole crew and how did he get to the ranch and back to the deployment site in the time frame.

  16. Bill don’t lay all your eggs in one basket just yet, there’s a big stretch on time frames here, and physical ability.

  17. Bill where can we find the audio and listen for ourselves? Especially the new ones…

    Will everyone who listens to the audio hear the same thing as the authors?

  18. For the non-fire folks, it isn’t uncommon to cut a “p-line” through brush to utilize as an escape route. The sawyers will leap-frog one another, cutting minimal material needed to create a path that can be travelled by the crew. It is much more minimal than putting in fireline and is by no means a “trail.” It’s a fairly quick process, even in thick brush. The sawyer will nip brush and the swamper, working in tandem, will pull or roll the brush to one side.

  19. And they only made it to the deployment site in 40 min. sounds like very hard going to me 400+ yards in 25min. or so from the saddle.

  20. Yes the deployment site location shows by itself what tough going this was, given the very small distance travelled by a crew that clearly felt enough urgency that they initially thought taking that “escape route” was a chance worth taking. Anyone reading this who hasn’t bushwhacked thick chaparral should give it a try next chance they get. One reason it’s such valuable habitat for birds and small mammals is that even predators have a tough time getting into and through it when it is dense.

  21. “Elizabeth,” who is a commentator on “,” has been posting links to some of the material on the IM website, in the comments section. Look for her “Youtube” link – she has roughly 30 videos posted.

  22. If Eric Marsh really was already ‘waiting’ for Steed
    and the others at the Boulder Springs Ranch yet
    he still ended up dying with them at the deployment
    site… that means he wasn’t even paying any
    attention to the fire or making any attempt to warn
    them about what could have ( at that point ) been
    clearly seen from the ranch. I doubt it.

    It also means that Marsh only became aware of
    the trouble they were in when he heard Steed’s
    first “We are in front of the flaming front” radio
    call at 1639. That means Marsh would have had
    to immediately run due west 638 yards in 120
    seconds through still-dense brush with his
    full pack on. Not likely.

    Even if that was possible… that also automatically
    means that if Eric had time to run due west
    638 yards… then Steed and the men also has
    the same amount of time to run due east and
    make it safely to the ranch. Nobody dies that day.

    Something is seriously not right with this new idea
    that Marsh was already at the Boulder Springs
    Ranch before the first MAYDAY call from Steed
    went out. If it’s all based on someone thinking
    they hear the word ‘house’ in a background radio
    transmission… that needs to be verified by more
    than just one or two pairs of ears.

  23. This revelation throws a huge bucket of incompetence on the SAIT and statements made by Mr. Willis.

    Absolutely noone believed the 30+ minutes of silence, when that was said. Why did they keep living that lie? And what other lies have they told, that just have not been shot full of holes, yet?

  24. Agree and we have been working on time frames over on JD,s thread. At 1550 Marsh was on top of the fire waiting on Frizby to meet with. Frizby picked up McDonough instead and took him back to the vehicles. It would be almost impossible for Marsh to then travel almost 2 miles in 40 Min. and flag a route to the ranch thru heavy brush dose not calculate Marsh was above and away from the crew by at least a mile to meet with Frizby and had eyes on McDonough. The time frame would be better at the saddle not the ranch and just behind the crew.

  25. Again, for clarity and to be very specific:
    Some GM sawyers leave the handline at 1552. They travel .7 miles (1232 yards) to the top of deployment valley on a two track. How long does this take? Lets say 10 minutes, and they arrive at the top of deployment valley at 16:02. The distance from the top of DValley down to the deployment site is a steep and brush filled .28 mile (493 yards). They then have 37 minutes to make their way down the .28 mile route to the deployment site, improving certain areas as they go. 37 minutes pass until their first distress call occurs at 1639. Is it possible that they could have traveled a steep and brushy .28 mile/493 yards, done some improvements on the way down and reached the deployment site in 37 minutes?

  26. John– The real Bob Powers Here son of Robert Powers Fire and ashes. I am disagreeing with this based on a lot of work on time frames that just makes it impossible for Marsh to have been at the ranch at that time. Its more probable he was at the saddle at the drop off into the bowl. I believe that based on the time we have him above the crew and ready to meet with Blue Ridge Supt. at 1550.

  27. Holly, while I do not fully understand all the tragedy of the fire, It sounds as if mistakes were made and then a Bengazi cover up, If so then You and Others looking for answers are doing a Great Service for The Cause and preventing this from happening again. A tribute to Your fallen Comrades. I am Proud of You along with Your other Associates for seeking the true facts. God Bless You All !

  28. Holly your time frames are off the crew did not leave the lunch spot safety area until 1602 + as that was the last Picture taken of the crew before they moved and headed out. Time stamped Photo.

  29. Replying to Holly (I think the sub-replies are exhausted for this specific comment?), yes, travelling 493 yards in 37 minutes while cutting the odd limb here or there is certainly doable, even in a steep bowl with both dense brush and not the best soil for footing. The fact that it implies that the bushwhack wasn’t just an accident, but was approached knowing that it would be gnarly and that, once they dropped down, they didn’t quickly realize their mistake but instead stayed committed and slogged downwards at a half mile an hour pace, is kind of disturbing, though. Seems they almost expected a slow brutal slog…so why drop down?

  30. also do not forget the BEFORE maze-like vegetation. I always felt he was away from the crew and I do know shortcut spots but not one investigator had me direct them to it when I stated where I saw Marsh the very first time that morning. True, nothing to the aftermath supports the shortcut idea to date but I also cannot accept Marsh went down the same way these men went down- otherwise he would of told them of the maze-like terrain. I do believe that if the video states he was at the ranch- that I believe. I do believe, he felt the ranch was near in distance and Marsh had he took the shortcut he would of had 2 of the 3 fire areas in view. I also believe when he went to meet with the crew he was unaware of the direction of the fire and he did not meet up with crew to die with them. I strongly believe those men did not deploy to die. I think they believed in the shelters too much that they figured the fire would pass over them fast in that tunnel-effect canyon. I also think they did not anticipate the gas effect before the fire hit them and I feel that is what killed them not the flames. Yet there was one key good clarity here. Marsh was away from the crew as I always believed because what I eye-witnessed that day and I also felt he met up with them from that area. I also felt there was separate things going on which may have the look of chaos to someone looking at this but the part I have had a concern to since day one is the CLARITY in the information shared or not shared in regards to that weekend. There are some areas I am very pleased with the new information yet I look forward to some of the upcoming pending stuff as well. Thank you again Holly and John.

  31. Bill where is the evidence and the clear and undisputable evidence at or are we just suppose to believe its there?

  32. There are areas I do not agree in article with yet I think what we have here is 2 fine people we can trust versus what we saw in the original investigation report. I think agree with the firefighters questioning time frame and cutting that uniquely dense area in the canyon. Did you photograph evidence to support the sawyer idea? stumps? anything? OSHA scouted that whole area. I really think the best information both Joy and I got from the article was there is more communication coming forward that is documented and one can hear it. Elizabeth heard this and spoke about this topic on 1/12/14 over on John Dougherty’s page on chapter 3 page. I want to read some of the comments so I will stop there.

  33. After matching up pictures from the Dailey currier I am going to say that the Sawyer picture and the picture of the guys sitting are not 10 min. apart but seconds apart (#0889 and #0887) biased on smoke and the fire in the back ground It didn’t move hardly at all for a 10 min laps. I am having a real hard time with these time frames being used.

  34. Bob Powers
    on January 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm said:

    from the Yarnell fire edge (point a) to the saddle area (point b) but not dropping into the canyon we feel he could of the way he went in 15-20 minutes no problem but not from the fire edge to the ranch- no way. Joy has hiked that area for almost 10 years and she is not Marsh in stamina and speed but her casual from the ranch to fire edge was a few hours because people here are forgetting the path there from the bulldozer was not there BEFORE the fire and that area was boulders and ugh dense vegetation—simply said he could not go from the fire edge to the ranch if you are telling me he had 40 minutes- nope not even the shortcut way BEFORE the fire. Had to clarify what we thought point a to point b was—

  36. 2 things: one, in photo 0887, there is a swamper mostly hidden behind the sawyer in the foreground (you can see his legs and dolmar behind the line gear. Not sure if that holds any significance.

    Two: found this- – start listening at 0:50

  37. Sonny I was talking from above the crew where Frizby was to meet Marsh to the Ranch going down the canyon flagging the brush to the ranch in 40 Min. would that be possible?

  38. Holly~
    and Bill~

    I appreciate your attempt to make sense of what doesn’t make sense. We’re all trying to do that, and for the same reasons.

    But your narrative/timeline is just way off and based more on speculation than fact. And what I conceiver to be incorrect speculation at that.

    I confess, I’m part of that ASAIT crew, camped out over at JD’s site with our marshmallows and hot chocolate. We’ve been there ever since the SAIR, and some before that. We’ve picked apart, argued over, added to, subtracted from, unconnected and then re-connected dots every time something has surfaced. I play the role of the resident photographer, because I am one.

    I’m the one over there who, upon noticing Chris MacKenzie’s camera (the one used for this photograph that you are using for one of your anchors), sitting in the middle of the site as if trying to catch my attention, when it couldn’t seem to catch anybody else’s, said to myself, “I’m gonna find out what happened to that camera.” And I did. It took me a month plus of constant work thru the holidays to do it. As I did it, I took it upon myself to document how that site was investigated, what was on it, where every thing went, and only then was able to keep following the dots on the path Chris’s camera took. What I discovered was that the PFD had removed it from the site after the SAIT “investigation,” kept it out of the chain of evidence, did some tricky maneuvers to get it to Chris’s father so nobody would know about it, but Chris’s dad outsmarted them in the end. Now we are learning there are at least one, if not two, critical cellphones they probably did the same thing with. And, just today, we discovered a GPS unit that fairly cleanly survived that fire, that they probably did the same thing with, also.

    Our timelines may have some holes in them but not very many at this point. The big holes are not in the timelines.

    I was the one who posted this article over there last night, thanks to being alerted to it by Sonny. It was quite a bombshell. I was speechless. It was like fruitbasket upset.

    But as folks discussed it, trying to, as we do, fit it into our existing timelines and try to figure out what needs to be adjusted, a lot of us began coming to the same general conclusion. It can’t be done.

    We tend to pound each other over the head a bit when speculation exceeds evidence too much. It’s our informal version of peer review. And yes we do speculate. But we also do a ton of fact-finding.

    So. Point 1. Eric Marsh was NOT with the GMHS when this chapter began. From what you have “said,” it seems to me you are one of the many who has been led to believe this by the common narrative. He was a considerable distance above them. There is no evidence he was ever “with the crew” that day. At least until the very bitter end. It was not his job to be with “the crew.” He was the Div A Sup, it was his job to keep his eyes on the larger game and oversee Steed and the crew in relationship to other crews, which included the Blue Ridge Hotshots.

    He had called BR Sup Brian Frisbee over for a “meeting” at the anchor point, which was well above where the crew was when this photo was taken. Frisbee, while on his way east to west to meet with Marsh, noticed the fire picking up speed towards them, GM Lookout McDonough with the fire coming down on him, and so grabbed McDonough and got him on the ATV, turned around and headed back to the east. Marsh was still up there when all that happened. He wasn’t with the GM Hotshots.

    Point 3. Meanwhile, I don’t know what you mean by a handline, but the crew in this photo was not all that close to where they had been working. They were below it. They were taking a break while Eric and others were having a radio conversation about their “options.”

    Point 4. About the sawyers Chris photographed. Before this photo, he had shot this very same Andrew Ashcraft comfortably sitting on a rock down below him, shooting with his cellphone, and sending one of those photos to his wife. Andrew, as far as I know, wasn’t even participating in this conversation. Seventeen seconds later Chris shoots him walking away from this rock with his saw. That’s before even Chris heard–and then decided it was important enough to take the videos he did–Eric, somebody else, and Steed discussing their options. And that’s it. That’s all there is of Andrew and the other sawyer walking. Who can say, from this single still photo, where they were walking, and why they were walking? And what they were thinking, much less planning to do, before or while they were walking. Maybe they were heading out a little tiny bit earlier than the rest of the crew. But maybe they weren’t. Maybe doesn’t make the anchor point of a whole theory such as you are proposing. There is nothing to anchor the theory you are proposing vis a vis the sawyers.

    Point 5. Given that Marsh was a significant distance above the crew, I can’t imagine a way he could have, short of Batman powers, made it down past his crew, down to the saddle, and then down through the brush filled bowl, to the Boulder Ranch by the time you are stating he was there. We have played these timelines out over and over again, argued them thoroughly, and always ended up with him being behind the crew, above the crew, until a bit after he stepped over the rim of the bowl, after having seen them in it.

    Point 6. Ok, let’s assume Eric had those Batman powers. There’s still no evidence he ever connected up with those sawyers. But let’s say somehow he did got down to the ranch by then. Let’s say he was there at the time you say he had that conversation about being at the “house”–which I agree with others I will only believe it when I hear it and I doubt that was what he was saying. (We’ve had endless arguments about exactly what is being said in these often noisy videos of radio calls).

    But anyway. Let’s say he was there. Saying that that was where he was. At that time the winds were shifting further to the NE, causing the fire to press further to the southwest. That was EXACTLY the time the fire was driving right around the bottom of the ridge at the mouth of the canyon, and thus beginning to chimney right up into it. That’s EACTLY what was going on then.

    There is no conceivable way I can possibly imagine Eric Marsh, at this point (and yes I agree he made his share of mistakes this day, but NONE of us knows what he decided, or why he decided that; all we know is the consequences) doing ANYTHING but radio-ing the GMHS and telling them to drop EVERYTHING and run, down the bowl ASAP and also stick to the south side of the canyon because the north side is going to get burned faster. Because that was exactly what he would have been seeing at that time.

    There’s no way in the Universe he would have, pack and stuff on his back and all, thought “OK. I guess I’ll take a quick hike up there just to die with the rest of my sons, the heroic Granite Mountain Hotshots.” Because if he was down there where you are asserting he was, he would have seen the proof that that was what was going to happen if they didn’t get out of there really fast.

    And, I add, if he had time to slog up there with his pack, they certainly would have had time to run down without them.


  39. Dig more! There are more resources out there that were not interviewed and released before the SAIT arrived. This information may tell us more about what happened, but it does not change the fact that we don’t get orders, and we are all responsible for ourselves while on or near the fire line.

  40. Eric has the 2nd and the fourth transmission. Burfiend is trying to raise ops, then you can’t make out transmission, then Eric talks about granite coming down escape route from this morning, (except he says cut road–not vertical). Again, can’t make out transmission, then Eric says something about granite coming down—-that IS NOT Marsh saying at the house where we’re gonna jump out at…. Damn it, while there is undoubtedly good things that can and will be learned from in these transmissions—get your sources straight before you report something like this.

  41. A very pleased old Firefighter here to read after so many good minds working so hard to find so many hard to find answers. Many thanks to all of you! And, you are really putting some good information together. It sure ain’t easy, huh?

  42. Hey, I may be wrong here, but it is my best memory that there were people at the ranch at this time of Marsh maybe being there, and, that the ranch actually survived the fire. Somebody there needs to be questioned, huh? I really have a problem with Marsh actually being at the ranch, and then going back into that obviously developing Hell Hole–without some radio traffic about such idea. Even a most courageous and physically fit man like Eric should have been physically spent by all his many quick travels up and down that mountain that day–as described by Joy and Sonny.

  43. I challenge all of you really smart people who are on to this information to consider this, because believe it or not, I’m on your side:
    From pg. 100: Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report: “At approximately 1615, ASM2 heard radio traffic between Division Supervisor A (DIVS A, which included Granite Mountain Hotshots) and Operations about Granite Mountain going down their escape route to a safety zone.” Not only does this violate the reported “33” minute gap in communications, but it also points to this:
    Compared to the reported 1613 conversation in the article above by Holly Neill and John Maclean, please ask yourself this: Who is Eric Marsh talking to? Who is replying to Eric that they Copy, that they are making their way down into the structures; and who receives the answer from Eric that he is is NOT with GM on this escape route, but somewhere else, perhaps at the house or in the vicinity of the house?? Does anyone else see this as a contradiction to what has been previously reported? Focus on this for a minute, all of you really smart people, and tell me what you think!
    From the Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation report:
    Interviews with Paul Musser OSC and Todd Abel OSC pg 47 of 60:

    • OSC Musser or Abel did not know of the predetermined route mentioned by Marsh to the ranch structures of the Granite Mountain crew.

    pg. 28/60: Interview with Roy Hall
    10:30 a.m.
    Q: Were you surprised by the location of where Granite Mountain was found?
    A: Shocked
    Q: Why were you shocked?
    A: When Paul Musser called and said they are descending a predetermined escape route. I assumed it had been scouted.

    AGAIN: From SAIR pg. 100: Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Report: “At approximately 1615, ASM2 heard radio traffic between Division Supervisor A (DIVS A, which included Granite Mountain Hotshots) and Operations about Granite Mountain going down their escape route to a safety zone.”
    Think on it. What say you? Where’s the rum?

  44. Joy is going to research it John and Holly but if you remember on your hike John when Joy mentioned her medical massager who you spent time with after our hike so you know the lady and the stumps that messed up 12 of Joy’s ribs on an early hike soon after returning from the shelter. Head to the aftermath photos like us and lets go review those stumps—days after returning from the shelter we hiked that area and we may now need Marti Reed and WWTKTT gps those photos locations and you may have documented proof and Joy’s messed up rib testimony as your source for sawyers in that saddle area. And in reply to Charley- up to our last account between 2-3 mark Marsh still was going on strong. Yet we cannot account thereafter but between 8:07 to the last account that man was spot on conditioned to go up that and no sweat on a hot day and much stamina. Good to see your input here.

  45. to answer Bob Power and anyone who hiked it on the aftermath can even get a feel for the answer—no. Not if they went into the most dense maze-like terrain even if they scaled boulders but now here is my ?. How does one KNOW Marsh was back up on that mountain top where we originally saw him? We seen him up and down those Weaver Mountains with such grace and tactic and swiftness that day so where is the facts/documents putting Marsh awaiting BR up there at that very spot? Couldn’t he have been on top of the ridge above the box canyon way earlier in time between 2:45-3:45pm with 2 sawyers because I hiked with John and Holly and they were thee most educational hike to date and I know they are not theory folks so I have not slept much last night; this is Joy typing with Sonny here reading what I write—I was trying to grasp some of the areas they wrote about that I just could not “see” but these are the same folks who made me SEE the many cuttings and all the fire knowledge vs where we sat and saw no work than OSHA showed us minor cutting and Wayne/Holly and Ted Putnam showed us the whole enchilada so PLEASE John Dougherty’s comment wall folks do take in these folks will walk you through how they came to their decisions just as we have been doing all along. We all are trying to reach the same; CLARITY. I do not discount their article but it does raise questions to how one got to think such way-
    Heading to my aftermath photos and I will write (((THIS ONE))) as the photo(s) that may support the sawyer theory that needs gps locations now.

  46. Bob,
    Of course I remember you. I’ve been noting your remarks about Yarnell on blogsites for some time now. I remain grateful for the time and effort you put in to talking with me about your father, Ranger Powers, who was an American hero in war and peace. Bob, I would caution you about imposing exact time lines on scenarios about Marsh’s or anyone else’s movements that day, and as a result saying certain things were impossible. We don’t know exactly what happened, but there are strong indicators, more coming out with time, about what might have happened. At this still early stage in the inquiry I would try to keep an open mind, or at least that’s what I’m trying to do.
    All good wishes to you and your large, extended, and admirable family. You were an impressive bunch at the Rattlesnake Fire Memorial ceremony those many years ago.
    John N.

  47. as we headed over to that area of photos on the private google+ link which takes forever to load we thought we are not going to label THIS ONE like said earlier—we have too much to do today but we will skim it and mark photos that we feel are worth noting—#351/998 shows there was no road near the Helms BEFORE and that the bulldozer was done after. Also a good photo to show the DENSITY. #354/998,#357/998 shows that area- DENSE/SLOW GOING. How about #396/998 and HOW COME you were the MOST photographed that day and I truly HOPE my sd card is recovered because that yellow and white helicopter pilot should be on these comment walls bringing clarity because he hovered/observed at such a low altitude he probably can tell you exactly where Marsh was throughout that day yet I never saw in reports stuff like who the mystery man was with Marsh- that person needs to come here and say “sonny/Joy; it was me”


    We grow weary at times that people just go forward in life and do not give a sh**; that needs to in this case. also how do you sleep at night?

    Man, when people hear the GMHS voices, doesn’t it rip you up inside? This was an avoidable outcome and the answer did not die with men and we strongly believe Y O U can help.

    #556/998 who’s vehicle is that and did you know about the shortcut near your vehicle?

    I do not see the photo I am looking for on that link yet to support the sawyer topic. I will check zazzle. After that I have to make an appt. to retrieve my originals I have stored with someone I trust away from my daily world.

    I hear the videos of yours posted Elizabeth and I also hear CLICK CLICK CLICK of a camera—has those photos of the CLICK CLICK CLICK become part of the SAIR or OSHA or made public?

    again this is Joy here typing and Sonny reading as I type to post. One thing is for sure I have passed around questions that for some reason I get the ol’ we will give/share you this info when it comes in or we will search or we will…but I become a back burner in which if I saw just ONE person really say “Joy, if you go get the originals and we look over the photos…I will make the time to guide you and answer what I can” I bet there is MORE photos that never even got uploaded as I saw on zazzle happen that is possible it happened to the google+ and I sit on some photos that are crucial to this but right now I am so frustrated that over time I ask a question and I am for some reason one of the “overlooked” comments and Marti Reed recently stated on JD’s page a statement that said “some of you complain about Sonny/Joy….”
    I don’t care what one thinks of me or how I lead my life or how I leave a comment but I DO care when I post a question and I get back burn and for some time now I told Sonny why even bother to go see what photos did not make it to the zazzle/google—people want to narrate and speculate and cannot answer some of my simple inquiries and you know what there has to be “I think this…” backed up to your sources listed to how you came to that conclusion especially on this kind of revelation. I won’t accept ANYTHING else out there unless you can show me how you got that conclusion. Like I told Sonny…take me out of the email world and stop going to these comment walls that feed on talking redundantly about that terrain like they knew it and never even been there—I HIKED it and I KNEW every freakin’ corner or flaw or perfection to that area- it was my home that burnt down there that I went over and over to show you all with hikes even when it hurt deep not because I gave a sh** to be in any article or book or tv segment but because my eyes can be OPEN or CLOSED and all I see are those childrens’ faces that lost their dad and the wives that have to try and make sense of something when THEY NEED CLARITY because these 19 men should of never died; it makes me WEEP DEEP to think we have not had ONE person say “Joy, I know you have the google and zazzle photos but can we make an appt. to see the ones you downloaded to your storage unit from the sd card because I think maybe a photo was not loaded that may be crucial to this fire” —My own family/friends/neighbors can share to you that I have spent more of my daily life out here amongst the terrain versus my own home. I know this terrain as well as the flora/cacti and the wildlife/insects/birds. I know how many birds are in one area and how far they travel. I know what areas are restricted, private, state and BLM and where claims were and are and who owns what…this is my area. I can see atv enthusiast screwing up the area, geologist or prospector time to time or hunters/herpetologists or a runner/jogger but NONE avidly are out there like I am. I have had so many hiking pals state they wish they had the endurance I do to stay out there like I do. Some even hiked with me the distance to see if I could because looking at me they judged and figured no way. I guarantee I am weak (medical massager will confirm that) but even at my weak phase to life I put one foot in front of the other and keep going (maybe I cannot do what I did long ago but I just don’t stop because I cannot do those things). Until people read my questions and none of them were bad ones and some needed the actual person to come out and say “ME ME ME” it was but really no way if Bob Powers is saying the article here is a time stamp of 40 minutes from above the Yarnell fire edge to the Ranch—no way. PROVE IT! Show me. I will take you to the same terrain and same distance on a hike with the same steep areas and you SHOW ME how ANY human being athletic or not can get from that spot—I KNOW that terrain and I am drained of people disregarding such. It’s home to me. I have been hit by a Diamondback rattler effecting my vision June- October one year and even half blinded or blind you can throw me in that desert and I KNOW it. I think this article as much as I am pleased to confirm it compliments my thoughts on some areas but I am burning red when people keep coming out without sources of HOW they came up with it. Yet I keep getting put on the back burner and I was there. Were not talking about me there just that day or weekend—you are talking about someone who has hiked it for almost a decade and not just here and there….I NEED answers to HOW this came to this article being posted without transparency or links for us to listen….I got to get going…enough coming online for me. If you see any future comments on any site- it is Sonny not me. I am so done with people accepting things without guiding us to how you got there. This is as you can see a sensitive area to my life. I cannot shake the kids faces that have no father. It just tears me up.

  48. Sonny–You have a feel for the terrain and area and I appreciate that as well as Joy’s info.
    Marsh made an appointment with Frizby to meet where they meet earlier that day he was waiting for Frizby predetermined spot to meet as stated by Frizby in the SAIT. Documented information at 1545 up at the spot Marsh could also see McDonough In the statements from McDonough. Frizby talked to Marsh and took McDonough back to the trucks.
    If Marsh had Sawyers cutting trail earlier in the day they would have moved down a cut trail way faster than they were moving at the time of entrapment.
    So no pre cleared trail to the Ranch they were breaking trail as they went. Thanks Sonny.

  49. John Maclean,

    If you have audio where Marsh clearly says that he is “at the house”… why not just post your short cleaned up clips to Youtube so everyone can hear? It would only take a couple minutes to upload them.

    If not, then what’s the purpose of this?

  50. There is obviously so much vital information being kept back by the powers that be. Someone brought up the interesting question of the Boulder Springs Ranch residents, the Helms. What did they see? What did they hear? What do they know? That ranch holds a lot clues. We are talking about a place the hotshots viewed as a life line and they died only 600 yds away.

  51. Joy that is what I was saying no way and the new article has Marsh at the ranch at 1613 not as I said 1630 so if he was above the crew for the meeting with Frizby at 1530 to1550 that’s only 23 min. and impossible unless it can be proven by Frizby that Marsh was not waiting there for him and was at another location not stated in any of the investigations. This is where time frames mean a lot.

  52. I agree completely with your statement. How can anyone tell who is speaking and making assertions abd accusations like this is only gonna traumatize the families more especially Amanda Marsh!

  53. The ranch owners rode the fire out inside the home …. They saw the men coming off the ridge so Eric being there is bs unless the ranch owners were told not to say anything! In an article the female ranch owner said she barely made it into the home before the fire over took the surrounding area.

  54. The Helms hold not only clues but possible photos and video footage from their surveillance cameras as well as many in town stated they stayed behind that evacuation week so they can give eye-witness accounts on many areas-
    WHY HOLD BACK when 19 are dead???

  55. CT, it seems unlikely to me that Marsh went to the ranch and then walked to what later became the deployment site. However, there are some small hills close to the ranch house, so it is not 100% certain that a single firefighter on foot on the ranch would have been seen by the residents. And if he was “at the house”, it does not necessarily mean he was standing on the front porch. He could have been hundreds of feet away. Besides, I imagine they were extremely preoccupied with other things during that time frame with a huge fire bearing down on them. In other words, just because the residents don’t remember seeing a firefighter, it does not mean he was not there at some point.

  56. These topics, because of the 19 firefighter fatalities and the inadequate investigations, can bring out our emotions. But please, be polite, be open minded, be friendly, and consider all points of view. If you have an opinion, unless you can prove that is true, consider it a theory.

    It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

    Anyone who can’t understand these requests, will be dis-invited from commenting. We appreciate your comments, but here are the rules.

  57. our apologies.

    Actually Sonny did vent today Joy did so

    I, Joy A Collura, apologize for allowing my emotions get the best of me online today.

    It is just harder not easier as time passes.

    That was why I told Sonny no more visits but once a week to the site to check in.

    I have more nightmares that keep me up over this fire.

  58. yes but there cameras could help out even if they did not see a firefighter maybe the camera picked him up or even the direction of the fire-

  59. Regarding Marsh supposedly saying “I’m at the house” ( Sic: ranch ).

    The effort that was made to translate that section of audio in the air-study
    video is admirable… but no one ever says the word ‘house’.

    When the ( still unknown ) speaker asks someone ( supposedly Marsh )
    “You with Granite Mountain right now?” at +1:21.17… the response is NOT
    ( as previously reported ) “I’m at the house where we gonna jump out at”.

    Whoever responds to that question ( it MIGHT be Marsh but it that hasn’t been
    verified. It could be Steed. ) does NOT use the word ‘house’ at all.

    The actual transcription on that section of audio is as follows…

    NOTE: The ‘ten four’ lead-in appears to be from a speaker OTHER than the
    one who asks the question. This appears to be just an overlap in conversations
    at that exact moment.

    (Speaker 1 ) Ten four.
    ( A different speaker ) You with Granite Mountain right now?

    Uh… just checkin’ it out to see where we’re gonna jump out at.

    An enhanced audio clip of just this particular section of the background
    conversation is now available on YouTube.

    WARNING: The GAIN is set VERY HIGH on this audio clip which makes it easy
    to hear what is being said but be careful what your local volume is set to before
    you play this clip. The high gain setting makes it VERY LOUD.

    The section of audio in question repeats SIX times and only represents this
    the specific part of the background conversation transcribed just above.

    Here is the link to the enhanced audio clip on YouTube…

  60. It was not you guys who caused me to write that, it was others. This topic has brought out a different category of people to comment here, or in some cases, has caused a few regular visitors to show a different side of their anonymous personalities.

  61. This discussion demonstrates both the promise and problem of crowd sourcing. Disturbing is the willingness to really hang your hat on the belief (and I choose carefully and stress “belief” over other words such as “evidence”) that the word is “house” and that it is Eric Marsh speaking. Timeline and physical ability strain credulity of the conclusions made. It seems nearly impossible that Marsh makes the ranch only to turn around and race nearly 700 yards back to the entrapment site. Perhaps, but this explanation requires some serious leaps of faith.

    What is important here is that it is becoming obvious that the motivation and tactical reason for moving, as well as the communication of the Granite Mountain IHC were clearly not the unknowable mysteries portrayed by the SAIT.

    I admire Holly, John, Bill and others for keeping alive the effort to truly understand the events of this tragedy, as it is quite clear that the official investigations have proven inadequate. Accordingly, I mean no disrespect. However, I caution against making and reporting dramatic conclusions from this newly found and important information. There’s much work to be done with that audio evidence before anybody should decide where Eric Marsh was or what he said to whom. Besides, I’m not certain Marsh’s location is critical. Critical to me is understanding the decisions (by the IMT and by Marsh) that led up to the entrapment. It is by knowing these things that we can help avoid reproducing this tragedy in the future.

  62. Hi Holly, thank you for your serious work on this. I’m so thankful there are people out there who want the truth and are willing to go the whole way to find it. I, like you am a former firefighter, have worked in engines, hotshots, and in different regions. I am also married to a current hotshot–this hits very close to home. There has been something that’s bothered me since the beginning. Just because there’s audio of someone saying they’re in one place doesn’t necessarily make it true, no? If a person chose to be evasive and disingenuous about movement/location, how could anybody know? (I hate even thinking this). For example, the transmission between DIVS A and BRIHC states “picking our way through the black to the road in the bottom out towards the ranch” and to confirm “the road we came on with the ranger…affirm.”

    Also, what position on the fire would say to DIVS A “…go a little faster, but you’re the supervisor..” The choice of words “you’re the supervisor”, is just odd. Doesn’t sound like something an Ops person would say, and there were no other DIVS on scene. Another ICS position could be the SGPS? The interview notes with both the SGPS’ are seriously lacking detail…like most of the interview notes.

    Holly have you come across any documentation regarding GMIHC crew tac? Did Brandon hear anything? Brian and True? Chief Willis? It appears the only crew tac commo caught on video was the transmission regarding “comfort level” but like other IHC’s, they were using their intracrew freq all day long. Also were there other fires burning in the area? Were there other resources NOT on the Yarnell Hill fire that could have heard something? Just questions, sorry I have a million like everyone else.

    I absolutely look forward to the Helm’s video footage to be released…really anything they have to say would be helpful. Where are their interview notes? Lawyers perhaps have that family closely guarded. Thanks again.

  63. Mike, you are exactly right. LED and LEADERSHIP are the crucial factors to learning from this fire. It is almost ingrained in our way of life to be led or have a leader except there are the minorities growing to believe otherwise due to the lack of transparency and trust that is broken from the very people we leaned upon; the leaders. Eventually if people/leaders keep being quiet and not sharing the TRUTH—you will see the whole concept of leadership will be dissolved. The serious problem here is IF they speak the TRUTH they will likely lose their livelihood, careers, and possibly jail time. LEADERSHIP MATTERS to us and as well as the facts to 3:30pm-9:30pm 6-30-13 not theories and speculations. A leader to me is inspiring and motivates me and will go the distance to ensure a wrong is right and he will not criticize but will correct you until you become your best. Sonny says what we have here is guilt by omission. He says the people investigators are now revealing the truth that may show guilt by commission.

  64. Joy is 100% right in her post. I say that it is wrong to try to make money off of this tragedy unless you are putting it right back into helping the ones effected by that weekend. But what is more wrong I believe is the money game that turned this containable fire into a tragedy that took 19 lives. Ego is the other part to this. When people get accolades for doing the good they ought to do anyway or because it is part of their job than they tend to seek out more approval from the community(ies) that can lead to risky actions such as taking undue risk(s).

    It is sad when you see 19 young men all agree to follow a plan that was obviously a ridiculous action especially when all their lives were on thin ice.

    I question what type of training is going on that men would do such things?

    Yes, we can add the fact that they were totally exhausted that day but that doesn’t explain why at least a few of them did not refuse to descend down into that trap. We know this because every firemen and investigators we hiked with to the very spot they descended into that trap have said they could not understand why they would do that. Now, we can understand the military mind of being gung-ho when it comes to saving lives but structures??? for wildland firefighters and especially considering these are wildland firefighters not equipped to save structures by any means. It is obvious that the firefighting profession, at least as far as Prescott training goes, needs a complete makeover.

    Those that say oh well, this is just a dangerous job and those fellows took a risk that all firefighters do every day. I say no, the fact is those fellas should be alive today and something or someone is responsible for foolish actions that day. It is not just attributable to those brave but improperly trained and informed GMHS.
    I applaud each of you, who like Joy, have expended time, financial and resources to reveal the truth that has so obviously been covered up.

  65. from the saddle to the deployment area took OSHA (mararthon runner) Brett Steuter 22minutes with all the brush burned away. Add another 10-15 minutes from the fire edge, you come up with at least 32 minutes to that point and that is AFTER the fire had cleared everything. Now consider Brett’s partner OSHA Bruce Hanna who took 33 minutes; 10 minutes longer than Brett. Than consider 19 tired firemen who had been overworked that month and spent the whole day in the heat making a fire break and you know they would of taken even longer than Bruce and do not forget this after the fire- before the vegetation was so thick that it would challenge a bear to even get through there. So you see, that time frame could not be possible. There is no way you will descend that Weaver Mountain side and get to that ranch in 13 minutes not even a bear could do it. NOT EVEN after the fire. Those that believe such a thing need to hike it.

  66. since day one we have stayed strong and Amanda Marsh was our very first person we felt the truth needed to come out—this lady Amanda is unlike any woman you will ever meet—so unique—when one faces trauma and shares that trauma publicly (Chino Valley paper) to turn around and days later face the loss of her husband as she did—bam, that hit us. Knocked us down. We kept hearing in the media blame towards Marsh and we thought it did not match up to what we saw that day with Marsh or how the day unfolded with all. We were there at the fire edge and saw it all. We will correct folks, reports, press and media when it needs correction from what we saw. We will not fill your minds with theories just photos, videos, kestrel readings, temp readings and our account so you can do your own assessments. Keep it pure and with documented facts to share not keep your own. At this point even if I had got THE ANSWERS and I came and explained it to you all and I had to protect the very source of where I got the answers you better believe if it was a firefighter community I would not name them but say a person from the firefighter community gave me these documents and due to the sensitivity of the material would like to be unnamed- YOU BET; stay unnamed- but I am going to put the material out there to what I explain and if that material than would source that person—so please think before you share to us because we are telling you how we would do it. We will never explain something to you without giving you the source/document that led us to that conclusion and we are going to be DEAD ON when we do because Sonny lost a kid and he is not going to want to hear what ifs or possibilities or someone’s view- he wants answers to his son’s death so he and I have empathy to the loved ones who read this as well as compassion to the community that was effected by this fire that was containable.

  67. thank you Bill. Yet Joy did want to apologize. With her health she has been under the weather and a bit frustrated lately. When you initially get an email to look for an article at Bill Gabbert’s in the next few days to read it. We both were initially pleased by it. Than we reread it and it did not come with sources to how they came to that conclusion and if OSHA has it they better feel it is DEAD ON what is said in the transmission because the purity in this is all we desire. Than when we saw others knew about it, a widow was alerted about it and even OSHA. It just made Joy feel separated by the one person she has always dropped what Joy had going on to get the answers to Holly’s questions. We have walked with people close to the fire management of this fire and we have never denied anyone that hike in 2013 who were seeking clarity no matter their agenda(s) and when Sonny heard the couple (Wayne/Holly) speak on the hike that they worked under Willis on fires and Willis even gave them the day off to get married at a helispot- Joy made sure to crack out the sparkling cider to salute them at this fire’s helispot area when Sonny was most appreciative to this date of that hike- MOST EDUCATIONAL to have someone detail the hike like they did for us from a firefighter’s aspect. We like everyone we hiked with- yes, even you azcentral S. McKinnon. However until the proper documented facts surface we will question areas we feel need a deeper clarification that just believing because one says this—the 19 men deserve that. Has anyone noticed the only media source that spent days with us and many many many hours and asked the right question in all this was indeed Morgan Loew of CBS. He went the Congress way as well to see how steep the area we had to go—he really is the one to go to on this for footage. Unfortunately his piece just lays on a google search but John Dougherty even though some locals look at him as the “Howard Stern” of the media—he is the one who is locked in longevity wise of not giving you all collaborartions of others stories but has links after links of his sources and gives we the people the freedom of speech as well as this fine man here Bill Gabbert so in the end these 2 outlets have been there from the beginning and are still going strong. TOAST to these 2 men; Bill Gabbert and John Dougherty; SALUTE to you-
    thank you for all you are doing! People do not always get HOW MUCH bandwidth usage it takes up to create these links and pages—so thank you. Also someone that has always taken her busy schedule to make sure the needs are met for us all effected by this fire and goes the “extra” distance is Elizabeth Nowicki. We deeply need you all to keep this mainstream. In His time the truth will prevail.

  68. Mr. Powers,
    The photo of the sawyers mobilized and moving south is photo #0887, and the time stamp on it is 15:52. The location is the junction of the two track and the handline.
    FYI-The MacKenzie video was not shot at the lunch spot, it was shot above the handline (close to where it began). The lunch spot is at the end of the handline. Hope this helps.

  69. It appears to me that Andrew Ashcraft (one of the sawyers referenced above) is in image 2736 from Christopher Mackenzie’s cell phone that is time stamped 3:51. Could you offer any information or opinion on this observation?
    Thanks in advance

  70. Pat, your six questions would take a long time to answer, but you could get a lot of information by reading an article by Bret Butler, a wildfire researcher who has studied what it takes to select an adequate safety zone.

  71. I agree that you are dealing with a rugged descent even without the brush. I also agree that anyone not familiar first-hand with that type of brush should experience it to understand why it would be difficult to improve an escape route quickly. But, I would caution on a technical level against using the time a specific ADOSH employee took to descend to peg the time it would take the GM crew. It sounds like I am being argumentative even to me as I type this, but just because someone finished a marathon doesn’t mean they’re a good trail runner or even in good hiking shape, much less used to negotiating very uneven and rocky terrain. Brett Steuter may in fact be an avid trail runner and used to running up and down steep bowled drainages, but I haven’t heard that he is. It is likely that I can find a grizzled chukar hunter or two who may not look in shape, who could easily descend faster than Steuter did. I say that simply to caution against assuming that something, such as where Marsh could have possibly been, is controlled by the time one or two people of not clearly defined fitness took to get down roughly the same path. I also mean no disrespect to Mr. Steuter at all because I am not questioning him at all, I am simply saying we should be cautious about trying to define what it possible and what is not.

  72. Joy, or anyone for that matter, could you please educate me on how to get the google + site you are talking about and also how to find “JD’s” site, that you and Marti Reed talk about? Thank you.

  73. Thank you Sonny and that is where I am having the time problem. Even if he took sawyers at 1552 and flagged to the ranch how did he get to or above the ranch by 1413. He would have had to of been going down the ridge 2 track at 1530 or earlier. and then not waiting to meet Frizby at there meeting spot.

  74. Some of the culture is fuzzy to me. How much variation is there in actual practice in terms of how the standard order for identifying escape routes and safety zones and making them known is followed? Do some people believe that there are times when closely following the order would prevent them from fighting fire? Does an order sometimes become a guideline to some people or can outside pressure distract from safety enough to compromise the order? How much effort do crews put into guarding against contingencies that may only seem to be a 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000 risk (and we’ve heard about “risk normalization”)?

    No doubt items that are called routes and zones are being identified wherever possible (and some terrain may not have usable safety zones near a fire), but how often do these have significant defects (unscouted, obstructed, fuel laden, too small, poorly positioned) or only meet current conditions, and not foreseeable ones? Are there some identified safety zones that would be untenable as safety zones or even as temporary respite areas or deployment sites with realistically achievable changes in fire behavior?

  75. SR
    on January 22, 2014 at 11:11 am said:
    (reply to above comment)

    that is where Sonny and I have human perception differences and I agree with SR. I also get exhausted of time frames when it has not been brought to light WHERE Marsh was exactly yet for POINT A.

  76. google investigative media.

    John Dougherty’

    Yarnell Hill Fire

    they are on chapter 4 of comments.

    the google+ site is a private link to my husband and parents but with an email I have shared it to people strongly interesting in seeking clarity to that weekend.
    If you post an email here or go to youtube and search Sonny’s Yarnell aftermath and privately send message with your email there we will send you the link.

  77. Very well said, Mike. While it would be interesting to know exactly where everyone was between 3 and 4 p.m. on June 30, the answers that could lead to lessons learned reside in who made what decisions, why, and what information was available to them. I appreciate the fact-based, open-minded research going on, but at times, as our dear departed friend Rick Gale often said, we may be “pole vaulting over mouse turds”.

  78. I am working on my jeep and Joy came over to ask if I was ready for lunch and I asked her about the newest posts. I told her to turn the pc on and let me reply to
    SR (on January 22, 2014 at 11:11 am said:)

    Thank you for including the mountain man comment because I am one even though I don’t have the beard and smell of one. Yes, it’s true a marathon runner might be a few minutes behind a mountain man like it happen that day. In fact I was 2 minutes ahead of him even though I am 70 years old. Had I been 35, I would of likely been 5 minutes ahead. However, as spent as I saw those men they would of been behind our times consider also that there was 19 men and some rookies and not one of them a mountain man like me. I have mainly lived this was since the day I was born (1943). 19 would be much slower going than 1 fit individual such as Marsh by himself. We are speaking about here only the saddle to deployment area. Yes, we can put out an appx time frame simply because we hike through that very terrain that morning where they perished that afternoon as well as its ingrained into our normal way of trails; that type of terrain. You have not lived until you have tried to force your way through maze-liked tangled manzinita, cat claw, scrub oak, cacti, brush, bear grass so thick that even the deer stay out of it. I call it bear wallow country because the bears like to wallow on top if it. Since even they can’t maneuver well in that country.

  79. One of my concerns on time and location.
    When Marsh says he is working his way down off the top at 1552.
    I still believe he was leaving the meeting spot at the top of the mountain and working his way down (to the crew or the 2 track road).
    He was either at or headed to the meeting spot where Frizby was going to meet with him.
    Why would he have not canceled the meeting with Frizby?
    If he was at or near the ranch at 1613 He would have had to leave the heal of the fire or the edge heading down the 2 track at 1500 or earlier to have possibly have flagged a route to the ranch and been there by 1613. I guess I am asking what your time frames on Marsh are and if there is any info to support those time frames. I am trying to get a grip on where Marsh was if he was not meeting Frizby. Frizby stated he was coming to meet Marsh at the same location as the morning meeting.
    Frizby ran into McDonough and the trucks were in danger so he called Marsh canceled the meeting and took McDonough to the trucks. Marsh also said he could see what was going on talking with McDonough before the pickup.
    McDonough was snapping pictures from the Supt. truck on his cell at 1539.

  80. Bill, I’ve read the usual stuff about the theory and science for safety zones, but where I’m abysmally, horribly ignorant is whether actual * practice * follows theory. Perhaps some people here have a feel for that? The impression gleaned from some accident and near-miss reports is that “safety zones” and escape routes too often don’t pass muster, especially when conditions change, and that a discussion of how well the zones and routes order is observed might be interesting.

  81. Sonny
    I have been thru those areas and it isn’t fun Fighting fire in southern Cal. I learned real quick to stay out of those kind of hikes even without a fire to fight. So I am just searching for a time frame that Marsh would have had to leave the burn to get to the ranch thru the canyon brush by 1613 (4:13) to the ranch. Your estimate from close to the top to the ranch. I am thinking at least an Hour and a half to get to the ranch thru the brush your thoughts?

  82. Bob Powers
    on January 22, 2014 at 4:54 pm said: (replyto)===

    it took us from the area we argued to go around the base to the area we first spoke to Marsh and where they died is where we argued that morning so say the deployment area walking around the base area to the fire break/old grader roader took us 1hr27minutes so but that was not to the mountain top so lets say this Marsh is on the mountain and he is walking down from the top to saddle in 10-15 minutes now for that rough part dropping off into the boulders and brush you will have to add at least 45 minutes; more likely an hour but keep in mind if he was tying ribbon as he went he did that swiftly that did not slow him down as we watched him that day. That is for Marsh alone. However our question is if he really went that way than he would know that it does not make sense. First off you definitely wouldn’t need to tie ribbons since you can see the ranch in view. Next, how much slower are 18 tired men going to be going down that mazed-like terrain and we hard time grasping Marsh being okay with leading them by dropping down in the box canyon versus staying in view of the fire scaling ridge top boulders all the way to the Helm’s place. Joy says if Marsh was at the home and already walked that area he had to know that direction of the fire and have his men drop down in that canyon versus going the Congress side for a bit. It is obvious from the MacKenzie photos that the fire almost got Donut and was heading that way so it does not fly that these men were okay in heading that way.

  83. Many thanks again there Sonny! Once again you do amaze me with your overall perception of the entire Yarnell Hill Fire–and, your willingness to call a spade a spade. Yep, I too can smell the stench of money overlying the allowing of this small fire to grow into a monster requiring the spending of tons of money. I have seen similar actions, or lack of actions, over the years in many places.

    Just last year here in Okihoma, the authorities convicted a Forest Service employee of setting eleven fires. An unknown chip in his vehicle placed it at every fire–at the right time.

    I was finally able to get Laird Robinson, assistant to Norman Maclean, to make an informed guess as to why the Forest Service Ranger at Mann Gulch would deliberately set that killer fire–if he did set it. Laird immediately responded with: “MONEY MOSE”. “They had no fire fighting money, but with a fire like that, there would be plenty of money and much equipment left after the fire.” And they did! The only problem was that thirteen fine Firefighters accidentally got fried to death during the money raising event.

    Without the fatalities at Yarnell Hill, there would have been many millions spent and great resumes expanded upon. Business! Simply business! But, those unintended consequences so often get in the way of business.

  84. Thanks Mose. After 19 deaths, you would think that the investigations would have covered every minute detail. Thanks to all the firefighters and people investigators and you for sharing and caring enough to look into this tragedy. The details are just beginning to emerge and that has been due to the concerns of people involved in the firefighting profession. However, we all should be concerned. The state as we understand it stood down local ranchers and local firemen who wanted to put the fire out the very first day. Those monies that were going to be gained are now going to be used up in lawsuits. Rightly so, that those who suffered loss of their loved ones should be compensated. There is after all no real compensation for the loss of a son or husband or boyfriend or grandson or friend. I know this from the loss of my own son caused by faulty equipment. There is no excuse for what happened here.

    The coordinates they gave for the lightning strikes are 2 miles away from where the fire started and we to this date never found the location of the lightning strike. That day was a clear day yet it is possible that a dry lightning strike can happen. It was after all monsoon season and there were thunder storms in the distance on that Friday. Oddly, we have witnesses that saw lights up on the Weaver Mountains that Friday evening in the area of the fire yet it is not stated in any reports who that was nor has anyone reported it or investigated that fact seen by many locals.

  85. Thanks Mose. After 19 deaths, you would think that the investigations would have covered every minute detail. Thanks to all the firefighters and people investigators and you for sharing and caring enough to look into this tragedy. The details are just beginning to emerge and that has been due to the concerns of people involved in the firefighting profession. However, we all should be concerned. The state as we understand it stood down local ranchers and local firemen who wanted to put the fire out the very first day. Those monies that were going to be gained are now going to be used up in lawsuits. Rightly so, that those who suffered loss of their loved ones should be compensated. There is after all no real compensation for the loss of a son or husband or boyfriend or grandson or friend. I know this from the loss of my own son caused by faulty equipment. There is no excuse for what happened here.

    The coordinates they gave for the lightning strikes are 2 miles away from where the fire started and we to this date never found the location of the lightning strike. That day was a clear day yet it is possible that a dry lightning strike can happen. It was after all monsoon season and there were thunder storms in the distance on that Friday. Oddly, we have witnesses that saw lights up on the Weaver Mountains that Friday evening in the area of the fire yet it is not stated in any reports who that was nor has anyone reported it or investigated that fact seen by many locals.

  86. Pat, your question may be THE most important one, both to this investigation, and to the future lives of firefighters in general. In my decade+ of experience, I’ve observed that adherence to the fire orders varies from crew to crew, and firefighter to firefighter. I believe we can effectively fight fire without breaking (and minimal bending of) the ten standard orders. Ted Putnam, who has far more experience than myself, would disagree somewhat:

    That said, what I’ve observed in the field has run the gamut, from reckless action (e.g., lack of PPE, total lack of situational awareness) to very responsible engagement. My own behavior has run that course, as I’ve gained awareness of what can kill me, how to be connected to the task and other forces, and where my responsibilities lay. As Dr. Putnam states in his articles, there are constant forces pushing against safe practices (money, image, the urge to DO something, punishment of the safety-minded, complacency, etc.). Sadly, the impetus to get serious and creative about safety — as a culture — only seems to happen after these tragic fires. And we STILL have to fight through cover ups and white washes.

    So the deaths continue.

  87. Joy and Sonny said on January 22, 2014 at 10:18 am: “Also someone that has always taken her busy schedule to make sure the needs are met for us all effected by this fire and goes the ‘extra’ distance is Elizabeth Nowicki. We deeply need you all to keep this mainstream. In His time the truth will prevail.”

    Thank you for your kind words, Joy and Sonny. My goal is to support any efforts in favor of information and transparency regarding the Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy. I completely support your efforts to share your resources and materials, and I am happy to keep making FOIA/FOIL requests as needed. I am also happy to keep “pestering” (that is the word that was recently used) others who have resource, pictures, videos, etc. but are refusing to share them. Now is not the time for information-hoarding, given that issues of future safety and closure are at stake. So thank YOU, Joy and Sonny, for being willing to share your pictures and knowledge, and thank you for giving me this honor of doing small things to assist this effort for transparency.

  88. Sonny, I applaud *you* and Joy both for sharing your information, time, and resources with the wildfire fighting community. I am not a wildfire fighter, but, if I were, I would be particularly grateful that non-WFF people like you are willing to try to help us glean more information and details to be used in the future to help encourage safer steps.

  89. Thank you Elizabeth–We know you have expended a goodly amount of time and money concerning the tragic demise of these men.

    I agree that something needs change–personnel wise and more so the system being used to train these young men. After all how can we account for so many deaths in the history of firefighting. Indeed this is a risky profession much like the underground mining I did for so many years.

    In, the Uranium mines, restricted entry signs in high radiation and low ventilation areas would come down after day shift. I was sent to work in those areas and would not have know the danger had I not done a double shift. The boss explained later that radiation did not matter that much, what mattered was that the company needed that rich Uranium ore since it was the best pay-dirt. It boils down to greed in many cases.

    In the case of attracting more government grants and putting people to work we wonder if the men of substance and status are allowing small fires to develop into dangerous large fires. I saw this happen in mental health when I worked as a counselor after a mine cave in stopped my mining abilities. The boss told me not to skrimp, and where I was trying to be economical in running a half-way house, he said do not do it. He told me that all the government grant money needed to be spent or else their grant would be cut and there would be no chance to ask for more. Well lives were not at stake there and we hope that this same scenario is not happening in the government supported fire fighting business. It is after all a big business when hundreds of thousands are spent on retardant contracts and hundreds of men with equipment, bulldozers, trucks, fire engines, etc. are sent out. Maybe some good investigators such as John Doughertly or Bill Gabbert will find out if that be the case.

    Now I considered the sign at the Yarnell memorial next to the Ranch House Café. It tells you what it takes to be a wildland firefighter. Wow, I don’t think I could have made it, not because when I was in my younger years I couldn’t have performed well enough. Where I would not have been chosen would be from the very first words which state that I would have to be able to take strict orders and follow them without question as I understand the sign. In other words if the boss says do 50 push ups then I do 50. I did that in the Army at basic and now as a civilian or a worker I am not going to work at any job without questioning what I am told to do, most especially if it is dangerous. So I am sure I would have soon been weeded out for not doing push ups. Maybe I could have been a smoke jumper though. I don’t think they do push ups unless they want to.

    Something else is sad. As a miner in the 60’s and 70’s, I went from cowboy’s pay of $5 a day to when I went mining at $9 per hour–though I would consistently get about $15 per hour since I was a contract miner. In the 70’s I was making as much as $26 an hour in the Tempaiute, Nevada tungsten mines working for Union Carbide. Our boss there was getting $7 an hour. I don’t know his excuse for not being a miner, he was young enough. I used to tell him that old miner’s statement, “bosses are a dime a dozen, miners are hard to find”, why ain’t you a miner? In this firefighting profession, which seems every bit as dangerous as mining, and maybe even more so the way it is orchestrated, why do these wildland firefigters get so little pay (15 per hour here) while their bosses get $90,000 per year and can double dip and double that pay by retiring and re-hiring. Something smells to high heaven here when the man putting his life on the line gets so little while the boss sets back in safety with a radio giving orders from a distance.

    Again thank you and all you people who help here. Lives of young men like this are very valuable to our future. We do need to get this cleaned up, and even if our efforts save only one, that is well. I know, it could have been the one I lost.

  90. I actually now have the cleaned version of the audio finally in my possession. If you e-mail me at “elizabethreyarnell” which is a gmail account, I will send it to you. Or I can post it on YouTube and Bill can link to it if he wants to. Whatever works best. But the audio is the actual “cleaned” audio that Holly/Maclean used – I tracked it down.

    I do not hear Marsh saying anything about a “house” – I actually do not think that it is Marsh speaking – but I do not have great ears, either. People can listen for themselves. Clearly Maclean and Holly put a lot of time into this, for which they should be commended.

  91. Bill, in response to your January 23, 9:15 a.m., I was hoping Maclean and Holly would post *their* cleaned-up audio and transcript, but, since they did not, I went and got copies of them myself. In anyone wants a copy, they can e-mail me at elizabethreyarnell (which is a e-mail account), or I can put the “cleaned” audio on Youtube and you can link to it like you did with my other videos. Whatever works best, I am happy to do.

  92. thank you for igniting me by your article Holly. I was going to finally take a personal breather off the net and get more involved with my medical massages (by Dee Sickles; Flagstaff, Arizona) and focus on my health yet your article gave me the right spark that with my observation skills I will now be much more involved and when I review not just my photos again; the eyewitness accounts but everyone else’s including locals’ photos and videos that are not publicly viewed I will state I will be focused to a new level to this investigation versus just being the desert walker who hiked you all. 2014 is going to get very very interesting—

  93. It was taken with an iPhone at exactly 4:47 PM ( +2 seconds ).

    So my next question to that photo was WHEN was the final retardant made over at UStow It storage unit/ Maughan Ranch Feed Store area during that crucial moment from the big jet plane you see on the videos and how long did it circle before unloading? Sonny’s eyes are not able to adjust to screen and his next ? he had was how many other retardant planes were in the air or missioned for that hour? Also since the ranchers were told to stand down on Friday with their retardant planes, were they ever available or used later?

    Now for my question to the people investigating—why would they do in the most crucial moment a drop over at the least residential home area when the fierceness of that fire was heading right to Shrine/Sesame area south where there were subdivision homes/older homes/etc with people?
    Also I will always question until I pass on why did they place the retardant the way they did that got not only Eric Marsh frustrated but me as well that 6-30-13 morning. That was a question for the air attack from me.

    Sonny wants to know the value of that retardant from the big plane? also the final retardant cost?

  94. WantsToKnowTheTruth, thank you.

    I guess it has been difficult for me to ever get involved on the blogs to dig deeper because of the pain. This is too close to home to see some of the photos as I have but even better for me to SEE it since I know the community as well as the terrain so I am now committed to you all. Sonny says we have all suffered from this tragedy. He had planned to buy a home last Summer there. The air quality since the fire has shifted us to the outskirts of town. It has effected many peoples’ health already. The air did not stop Sonny as much as it was the whole dynamics of life has changed there.

    When you drive thru- next to the Assembly of God; across from the Ranch House restaurant ===to the right of the church was a lady in her 80’s that passed on a few months after the fire—she had just lost her husband in recent years and we have tried to contact her son and all we can to help clean that up yet everyone who comes through town SEES even though the town (YHRG) is rebuilding;
    some things just cannot be rebuilt—due to loss. It is a reminder every time I hike there how some are passed up when upon returning and some are gracefully shown much attention—it should have been equal all around yet many did not even know where Marlene was after the fire and it was us that informed the Emergency Relief Joan Brown of where she was and then her passing on.

    I really would have been offline had not Holly sent me that email link to check out Bill Gabbert’s page in the next few days as she said…now you know what,
    I am going to stick around and get you all the answers and ask all the questions. I can always rest later.

    Sonny says Joy is brilliant at finding the answers while Sonny is just trying to understand the questions. Sonny believes that it is people like Joy and the folks here and the folks we hiked with that will encourage all of us to stay here until we get to the answers. There is no competition or comparison of who’s comment wall is better—it is about getting to the bare truth.

  95. I’m very pleased to see so much interest in finding out what MOST likely happened to the GM Hotshots that horrific afternoon. We’ve got to learn from this and fast. All the litigations will delay any possible learning for years, it seems.

    The truth may be that the only ones who really know what happened and why died that afternoon.

    It’s very refreshing to find others so vested in finding solutions rather than blame.
    Thanks to all of you.

  96. Mr. Powers,
    Excellent questions. Here is one in return:
    Where is it stated that Frisby was going to meet Marsh at the same location as the morning meeting, the anchor point? It is easy to assume this, but it is difficult to find a clear indication that Marsh specified exactly where, or that Frisby gives this detail in his interviews, as to a specific meeting location. This is an open point that needs clarity in order to fully answer.
    SAIR: pg 22: “At about 1540, DIVS A calls BR Supt and asks him to meet face-to-face. BR Supt starts heading back towards DIVS A’s location in his UTV. BR Supt hears the second weather announcement as he drives the UTV out Sesame Street to meet DIVS A”.

    BR over heard the second weather announcement from FBAN to OPS which occurred at 1529, throwing off the SAIR timeline. BR only heard one WX update before picking Brendan up. If Frisby hears the WX while going to meet with DIV A, then the plans to meet with DIV A were made before 1529. Should we consider revising the timeline at this point?

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