by Jim Nintzel
Independent reporter John Dougherty of Investigative Media continues to examine what led to the deaths of 19 Prescott firefighters in the Yarnell Hill Fire:
Eric Marsh, the superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew, violated wildfire safety protocols when he and 18 of his firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, Jerry Payne, the Arizona State Forestry Division deputy director, said Monday.
Marsh, 43, was given wide latitude to make tactical decisions in the field without first seeking permission from a superior because was operating as a “division supervisor” for several crews fighting the fire while remaining in the field with the Granite Mountain Hotshots, Payne said.
“He (Marsh) was the boss. He was the assigned division supervisor,” Payne said.
Payne said that once Marsh became a division supervisor, he delegated command of the hot shot crew to his captain, Jesse Steed. But Marsh remained with the crew, Payne said.Payne said it appears that Marsh violated several basic wildfire rules including not knowing the location of the fire, not having a spotter observing the fire and leading his crew through thick, unburned vegetation near a wildfire.
“The division supervisor broke those rules and put those people at risk,” Payne said.
Payne released Marsh’s name in response to a public records request filed by InvestigativeMedia seeking the names of all division supervisors, operations chiefs and incident commanders during the Yarnell Hill Fire. Payne said there was “some sensitivity” to releasing Marsh’s name as one of the division supervisors.
Read the entire story, as well as Dougherty's earlier dispatches, here.