NW Fire weighs in on Yarnell Hill Fire investigative report - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

NW Fire weighs in on Yarnell Hill Fire investigative report

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(Source: Tarta Ross/US Forest Service) (Source: Tarta Ross/US Forest Service)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A report released Saturday is shedding new light on how 19 firefighters lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire.

The report doesn't blame anyone or anything, instead it offers recommendations for the state so something as tragic never happens again.

In a 116 page report, a team of investigators look closely at how 19 hotshots were killed and how it could've been prevented. It lists seven recommendations including updating its lan at reducing wildfire risks. In addition to improving communication plans and reviewing technology used by the national Wildlife Coordination Group. Specifically, increasing resource tracking, communications and real-time weather.

Dugger Hughes of Northwest Fire District helped coordinate resources on Yarnell Hill Fire and says technology is sometimes a challenge.

"The trouble is, lots of times when you're out on a wildland fire, a lot of that stuff doesn't work because you don't have cell coverage or wi-fi, or whatever you need that we're all so used to using when we're in the town setting," Hughes said.

One question left unanswered: why the hotshots moved from a safe zone to the area where they were overtaken by the fire?

The report found no one asked them to move and it suggests they decided to do so on their own, probably thinking they could help defend Yarnell.

"I don't want to see us risking people's lives for homes. In structure side of things, we risk a life to save a life," Hughes said.

The report notes a radio communication issue which was later fixed as well as a change in incident commanders several times in a short time period.

The Yarnell 19 had less than two minutes to get to a deployment site and to try to save themselves. The report shows they didn't have enough time to prepare. The fire's motion and air turbulence broke apart the seams of their shelter.

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