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Official: Hotshot leader violated safety protocols in fatal Yarnell fire

Crew chief 'broke those rules and put those people at risk' while fighting Yarnell Hill Fire

Eric Marsh, superintendent of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, violated safety protocols when he and 18 of his firefighters were killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, a state Forestry official said. It appears that Marsh violated several basic wildfire rules including not knowing the location of the fire, not having a spotter observing it, and leading his crew through thick, unburned vegetation near a wildfire.
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4 comments on this story

Jul 30, 2013, 6:07 pm
-1 +2

This individual from the State Forestry Division spoke completely out of turn! There is a current and on ongoing investigation, there has been no findings. To place blame on one individual is a cruel and heinous mistake. The pain he has caused to the family needs to be addressed, currently the Governors office is looking into these false accusations and hopefully, I pray that this individual and all involved lose their positions!

Jul 30, 2013, 6:21 pm
-1 +1

It has just come to my attention that Scott Hunt, director of the State Forestry Division has issued a full and total retraction of all information issued by the deputy director. This person was not authorized to speak for the division on this incident.

Jul 31, 2013, 10:17 am
-0 +0


Hunt apologized for Payne’s remarks, calling them an “inappropriate expression of opinion as fact and unfounded speculation that prejudges the ultimate conclusion of the investigation.”

Reporter Dougherty said he stands by his story.

Aug 3, 2013, 1:08 pm
-2 +4

Look, Payne spoke out of place; it was a stupid thing to do. However, this does not change the situation.  The investigation will be completed, and like all other Wildland fire deaths, it will be determined that the Crew Boss made errors which cost his life and the lives of his crew.  Errors in judgment and actions kill Wildland firefighters…not the fire.  Without doubt, the conditions, terrain, and low resources available created the most difficult type conditions any Wildland firefighter could face.  I know the area, and with 34-years experience and several close calls, I’m only glad I’m still here to write these words. I’ve been where these brave men were, taken the chances, and were lucky to come out alive. They also rolled the dice.  LCES, the 10 and the 18 were violated. I can’t see any other way in which any type of ground attack could have been made without doing so.  The available actions were to do nothing and watch until conditions changed or roll the dice and try to save the properties they were hired to protect.  In this instance, the dice came up craps.  The Crew Boss knew it; the firefighters under his command must have known it.  Sometimes it’s just what you do.  Most times, your successful, but you will only fail once. It will be found that LCES and the 10/18 were violated.  The pressure of knowing if you don’t engage and property or others lives are lost is what drives these dangerous actions.  Today these men are heroes.  If they had followed LCES and the 10/18 they would most likely still be alive, but they also would have been excoriated and condemned if a civilian life had been lost. It’s just the times we live in.

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