TUCSON -- The 19 firefighters who died in June when a fire overtook them in a rocky canyon near Prescott, Ariz., knew they were in trouble and tried to get aircraft to drop retardant or water on them, according to a newly released video of the Granite Mountain Hotshots' last moments.
The recording was taken by a firefighter near the scene who was wearing a helmet with an attached video camera. The recording, released by state officials, picked up video near, but not at the scene of their deaths. The last transmissions between the firefighters and dispatchers can be heard on the recording.
What happened that day is detailed in two separate reports prepared by independent consultants to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health and the state of Arizona.
Both accounts state that the Granite Mountain crew was caught off guard when a sudden change in wind sent towering flames suddenly racing toward homes in Yarnell -- and toward the crew, which had left its previous zone of relative safety.
The most recent report, released earlier this month by the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, found that the fire crew were the victims of poor planning and bad communication, forced into a losing battle to protect structures and pasturelands that were "indefensible.”
The Arizona State Forestry Division, responsible for managing the Yarnell Hill fire, now faces a $559,000 fine, one of the largest such fines ever levied in the state.