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Yarnell Fire Investigation Reports Available

by Fred Cooper |

There have been two fire investigation reports of the Yarnell Fire. The first by the AZ Department of Forestry released a couple months after the fire and the second by Wildland Fire Associates released in late November. Barry Hicks (MSO '64) was a member of the second investigation team. My conclusion is that the AZ Department of Forestry basically found in their report that they had followed their protocols and the firefighter deaths were the result of a catastrophic fire situation beyond their control.

The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health hired Wildland Fire Associates whose findings resulted in the AZ Div. of OSH levying fines against the AZ Dept of Forestry. The Wildland Fire Associates report concluded amongst other findings that the "Arizona Department of Forestry failed to implement their own extended attack guidelines and procedures including an extended attack safety checklist and wildland fire decision support system with a complexity analysis."

Following is a link to the Wildland Fire Associates Investigation Report. It is 73 pages in length. I found it to be a very comprehensive report. As with all wildland firefighter deaths that I have read about, a breakdown in communication is always a factor in entrapment and death. One of the primary missions of fire investigators is to identify all the contributing factors in the hope that others can learn so other lives are not put in jeopardy. Will we ever achieve this objective?

For the Wildland Fire Associates Report click on the link to the NSA Trail website and then click on "news."