6.6 Wall of Flame the Yarnell Super Fire

Friday, 12 June 2015: 2:30 PM
304 (Raleigh Convention Center)
Carl Rippy, KALB-TV, Alexandria, LA

Together, we will look at the sequence of events that led to the fateful day of June 30th, 2013 at Yarnell Hill, Arizona, where nineteen elite firefighters of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew were lost to a 60 foot wall of flame, 85 miles northwest of Phoenix. Two thunderstorms fell apart adjacent to fire to where the Yarnell fire was burning, creating a gust front that pushed the fire line 13 miles in 50 minutes. Lack of communication and unclear radio messages were two fateful ingredients in the final demise of the 19 “Hotshotters”. During the communication gap and in the crucial moments before the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew was “burned over” their exact location was unknown. Wildland Firefighters should have as standard equipment a GPS tracking device and a Satellite Telephone combination which I call a “HotPac”. I also propose an additional team member be added, a meteorologist that specializes in fire behavior and relays important fire weather information to wildland firefighters. Critical and important weather information communicated clearly by the additional team member meteorologist combined with the knowledge of the exact location of the “Hotshotters” will save wildland firefighters lives.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner