Dan Nowicki and Craig Harris
AZ Central
Sept. 29, 2013

The Prescott-based firefighting squad that was devastated by this past summer’s Yarnell Hill Fire did not violate any policies or protocols, and the answer to the central question of why the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots left a safety zone and descended into a wind-swept chaparral canyon will never be known, an interagency investigation has concluded.

The Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Team’s much-anticipated report drew immediate and mixed reaction. Some questioned whether the probe was rigorous enough in its scrutiny of what went wrong — such as when firefighting authorities lost track of the hotshot crew for more than 30 minutes — and whether its recommendations are sufficient to ensure such a disaster never happens again.

The 19 hotshots who died June 30 while battling the inferno did not act negligently or recklessly, and the incident management organizations overseeing the firefighting effort were “reasonable” in their judgment and decisions, according to the investigation team’s 116-page report released Saturday.

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