Prescott Division Chief provides more information about fatalities at Yarnell Hill Fire.
The link above will take you to Bill Gabbert’s Wildfire Today blog. The information within gives us more insight into the Granite Mountain 19 tragedy, specifically their entrapment and burnover, and while it is by no means the official word, it is still interesting to read.
I have never been employed on any wildland fire incidents (though I did witness a wildfire several years ago), but I can say, from participating in prescribed burns, the speed at which fire can move, even under controlled situations, is astounding. I can only imagine its astonishing speed in a wind-driven, high temperature, low humidity situation with the volatile fuels within Arizona’s Interior Chaparral ecosystem.
More fire ecology information of Chaparral (and other ecosystems) here.
This is also a good time to reflect and ponder lots of tough questions that we as a society have. Namely, do we really need to fight every single fire that flares up? The negative effects of the Smokey Bear legacy have shown us we don’t, and fire ecology research shows fire suppression generally does more long-term damage, regardless of its short-term good. Yet, that old mindset of the “10am policy” still holds strong in many people’s minds, as old habits die hard. But that’s no excuse.
As John Maclean recently wrote, “We need to encourage firefighters to exercise more caution, even when homes are at stake. Let the fires that are riskiest for firefighters burn. And assure the firefighters that the nation will have their backs when the inevitable complaints pour in.”