Yarnell Hill Fire: A New Twist

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Reporter John Dougherty of InvestigativeMedia.com brings readers the latest twist in aftermath of 2013's deadly Yarnell Hill fire:

Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis, center, answers media questions at the deployment site where the Granite Mountain Hotshots died.
  • John Dougherty
  • Wildland Division Chief Darrell Willis, center, answers media questions at the deployment site where the Granite Mountain Hotshots died.
Brendan McDonough will testify if legally required about radio conversations between Granite Mountain Hotshots’ senior leaders in the moments immediately leading up to their deaths and 17 other members of the crew, his attorney says.

“Under certain circumstances, Brendan will tell his story to a court of law,” Prescott attorney Dave Shapiro says in an interview with InvestigativeMedia.com.

McDonough is the sole survivor of the 20-member Granite Mountain Hotshot crew that was killed on June 30, 2013 while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.
Investigators inspect the location where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were entrapped by flames three days earlier.

Investigators inspect the location where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were entrapped by flames three days earlier.

McDonough reportedly heard radio transmissions between Granite Mountain’s supervisor Eric Marsh and the crew’s captain, Jesse Steed. The men reportedly argued over whether to move the crew, with Steed eventually agreeing with Marsh’s request — or possibly order — to leave their safety zone on top of the Weaver Mountains.

Marsh reportedly wanted the crew to join him at the Boulder Springs Ranch in the valley to the east. The Hotshots were overrun by flames at the base of a box canyon about 600-yards west of the ranch. Marsh rejoined his crew moments before the rapidly approaching, 2,000-degree wild fire engulfed them.

Why the crew left its safety zone at the hottest time of the day during an extreme wild fire with an approaching thunderstorm and descended into a treacherous box canyon packed with unburned and highly volatile chaparral has been the major unanswered question looming over the tragedy.

Read the rest of the story here.


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