Report: Communication Issues During AZ Wildfire That Killed 19 Firefighters

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Nineteen Prescott, Ariz., firefighters were killed while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. (credit: Prescott Granite Mtn Hot Shots)

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Investigators found no evidence of recklessness or negligence in the Yarnell Hill wildfire that killed 19 Prescott, Ariz., firefighters in June, raising questions about how similar tragedies could be prevented in the future.

“The judgments and decisions of the incident management organizations managing this fire were reasonable,” concluded a report commissioned by the state of Arizona that was released Saturday. “Firefighters performed within their scope of duty, as defined by their respective organizations.”

The report, produced by a team of local, state and federal investigators convened from around the country, “found no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol,” though it did note some problems with radio communication.

The crew of 20 “hotshot” firefighters from the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew were found to be appropriately rested and trained when the blaze near Yarnell, a rural community in central Arizona, rapidly expanded with the help of high winds.

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