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  #1  
Old 07-01-2013, 11:05 AM
elchivito's Avatar
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Greatest loss of firefighters since 9/11

19 hotshots dead in 8000 acre Yarnell Hill Fire. Half the town is gone. Zero containment.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots are all guys in their 20s who have earned a nationwide reputation for their firefighting ability.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/arizona/articles/20130630crews-fighting-small-fires-around-Arizona.html
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  #2  
Old 07-01-2013, 11:33 AM
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Saw it on the news this morning. So tragic. A great loss to their families, station, and community.
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  #3  
Old 07-01-2013, 11:44 AM
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What is the strategy for fighting these types of fires on the ground? Do they work their way in from the periphery? If so, who is watching their back to ensure that the fire doesn't come up behind them?
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Old 07-01-2013, 01:20 PM
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damn shame. RIP
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  #5  
Old 07-01-2013, 02:11 PM
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It is a dangerous job and my hat is off to anyone who fights fires. May they rest in peace.
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  #6  
Old 07-01-2013, 05:39 PM
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My condolences to their friends and family. Fire fighting is a dangerous business. Apparently the ones in the forest are worse than most.
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Old 07-01-2013, 05:47 PM
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Awful, awful tragedy. Arguably the best-trained for that kind of situation, and it still caught them by surprise. My thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families, and of course the community. What a horrific loss all the way around.

On a personal note, the ride up through Yarnell and the back way to Prescott is a favorite of VOTS motorcyclists, or at least it was when I lived there. Long morning ride, have lunch in Prescott, head home on the interstate. The worst thing about that ride was the cops, though, and certainly a route to avoid if it's winter.

I won't ever again think of Yarnell the same way.
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  #8  
Old 07-01-2013, 06:03 PM
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Ugly, sh**ty thing to happen in a beautiful part of the country. Condolences to their families and friends.
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  #9  
Old 07-01-2013, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P.C. View Post
What is the strategy for fighting these types of fires on the ground? Do they work their way in from the periphery? If so, who is watching their back to ensure that the fire doesn't come up behind them?
In general they try to get a line around the fire by creating breaks with dozers and often by hand, the setting backfires to burn it out of fuel. All the while they are dumping slurry from planes and helicopters. I have two inlaws who are on tribal hotshot crews. Those crews are the best of the best and their jobs are the riskiest. They often have to hike miles in to their positions carrying 60 pounds of gear, chainsaws, pulaskis, etc. They are unprotected and unsupported and have to always be eyeing an escape route and a plan B and plan C. They usually employ one or two spotters who stay on high ground and report wind and fire direction changes. The sole survivor in this incident was the spotter. I can only imagine how that guy must feel.
In the late afternoon there was localized monsoonal wind activity. Early reports are that the wind did a 180 on them in seconds, driving the fire right back and over them. Most of them had time to deploy their fire shelters but those things are only good to about 5-600 degrees before they begin to delaminate, plus they can't withstand direct flame. More suited to canopy fires in tall timber where the fire is racing overhead than the kind of low level brushy wildfire in this case.
I had to go to Prescott today, we saw the motorcade carrying the bodies down to the medical examiner's office in Phoenix. July 4 is Prescott's biggest week, the whole town was subdued and pretty quiet.
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1997 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4
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  #10  
Old 07-01-2013, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P.C. View Post
What is the strategy for fighting these types of fires on the ground? Do they work their way in from the periphery? If so, who is watching their back to ensure that the fire doesn't come up behind them?
Hotshot crews have a plan of egress but it is uncertain as they do not have the same logistical and transportation supply chain as the line fighters. They are sent into fight a manageable fire at the earliest stage before it goes critical. It is a judgement call and they are all volunteers. It doesn't pay especially well. The conditions are terrible. And they usually sleep on the line until the main crew gets to the scene, the fire is out, or they have to bug out.

A bigger question is this: Why do we fight fires? They will go out on their own with or without human interference.
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Old 07-01-2013, 10:24 PM
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The colloquial name for an emergency fire shelter is a, "shake-and-bake." When conditions are so bad you deploy that, your chances of survival are just a bit better than certain death.
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  #12  
Old 07-02-2013, 01:22 AM
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One of my colleagues bought a retirement home up in Yarnell a decade ago with her inlaws. She found out this afternoon that it has escaped the fire. Just. House three doors down is gone. They and their immediate neighbors had been doing a lot of fuel clearing and rocking large areas around their houses. Looks like that might have paid off. Others had not done so and the area is full of tinder dry undergrowth, pine trees up against houses and hundred year old oaks etc. Unfortunately quite literally fuel for the fire. I'm afraid after the century of human meddling in wilderness management this county is likely to see much of the west continue to burn for decades to come in major conflagrations that are uncontrollable and will reshape the landscape in many ways.

- Peter.
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