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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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12/4/2013 1:33:00 PM
BREAKING NEWS: Industrial Commission seeks to cite, fine state Forestry Division
ATGS/Rory ColinsAn aerial photo of the Yarnell Hill Fire taken on June 30 at 2:34 p.m.
ATGS/Rory Colins

An aerial photo of the Yarnell Hill Fire taken on June 30 at 2:34 p.m.

The Industrial Commission of Arizona, in a meeting that began at 1 p.m., is considering citations and fines against the Arizona State Forestry Division over that agency's handling of the Yarnell Hill Fire, which consumed more than 8,000 acres and claimed the lives of 19 members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30.

The Hotshots, and all of the firefighters working the fire south of Prescott that day, were contracted to work for the Forestry Division, leaving that division, as the employer, liable for proposed penalties totaling $559,000.

The report, which the Industrial Commission is reviewing this afternoon in Phoenix, details several examples of ways in which the forestry division "did not furnish to each of its employees... a place of employment... free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm."

In short, the report states that:

• When the fire escaped initial attack on June 29, an incident complexity analysis and other in-field analyses were not conducted to ensure a secure transition to the appropriate level of response;

• On June 30, fire management positions of Safety Officer and Planning Section Chief were vacant, leading to a shortage of oversight and planning capability;

• On June 30 at 1:30 p.m., a division supervisor left his assigned position, leaving that division without supervision.

Check back with dcourier.com for updates as they become available.

To see the entire Industrial Commission report, click the link below.



Related Links:
• Industrial Commission report


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: People !!!

They didn't follow their own safety policies, written ahead of time so the chaos does not interfere with judgement.

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: @No crystal ball

No...there is no crystal ball as you say, it's called Doppler radar. Quite advanced. The officials failed these men. It is there job to keep them safe. Some of you here sound like Hilary...what difference does it make? IT MAKES ALOT OF DIFFERENCE. It's not called blame, it's called accountability. They deserved better.

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: steve chapman

So, what does the "Industrial Commission" know about nature & wildfires?

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: Wacka Wacka

This is pitiful but typical Arizona.

The Commission found that the Az Forrest Service placed property over life.

Next you all will be calling the killed fire-fighters next-of-kin "moochers".


Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: The Green Fist Of Greed

What good will a $500,000 fine do? Absolutely nothing. It is just a money grab. If somebody did something wrong to cause the deaths of these men then they should be fired or otherwise reprimanded. Money is not a reasonable or just way to deal with this tragedy.

Posted: Thursday, December 05, 2013
Article comment by: Lucy Furr

To: Crystal Ball

So you're saying that god killed these firefighters?? I agree, but that's not going to go over well with this crowd...


Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: open book

Claiming that this accident was an "act of God" is trying to get out of the responsibility that we had for the firefighters.

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: IC wants something impossible

The Industrial Commission wants "a place of employment... free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm." Since our first responders and military people face "hazards that were causing and likely to cause death or serious physical harm" every day, the solution would be to stop hiring first responders? Stop the finger pointing. First responders face danger every day and rarely do they die. Fines won't bring our guys back. All of this might prevent us from having Hotshots to protect our community in the future. Is that what this report hopes will happen?

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Tonja Turner

Really? the forestry division "did not furnish to each of its employees... a place of employment... free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm." How would that be possible or realistic to do...acts of nature cannot be controlled. And how will this fine help the families of the 19?

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Really? Stupid

"did not furnish to each of its employees... a place of employment... free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm."

Is that even possible when fighting a forest fire?


Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Ted's Perspective

How could this happen was my first thought. We have highly trained individuals to deal with dangerous circumstances. Yet we had one of the worst tragedies in firefighting. In our conservative and seldom changing community, we lack respect of the changes that are occurring in the rest of the world. The attitude of being better than everyone else is flawed.

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: No Crystal Ball

Mistakes were made.

However, I witnessed the wind firsthand that day. It was strong most of the day, everyone knew that. A few VERY large gusts came up that literally blew my outdoor carpets off the ground, blew furniture over, etc. They were from a different direction than previously that day.

When that happened, I worried about the fire. Common sense. Anyone in that fire zone was in danger, imo. The first thing anyone in the area should have done was get out ~ FAST. Maybe take a different route, considering the direction of the gusts and the location of the blaze???

Now, unless the State Forestry Division KNEW that those rogue gusts were about to happen, there is NOTHING they could have done to protect the town of Yarnell or the firefighters.

If and ONLY if they knew that those blaze turning winds were going to hit, are they to blame for anything.

The winds were an act of GOD.

This is why, imo, there is not more action taken against the State Forestry Division. They made errors, yes, and they are listed above.

However, they did NOT cause the deaths of the firefighters through negligence.

The firefighters were going to die when those rogue wind gusts occurred and there was no way to predict them.



Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

This doesn't sound good to me. Positions vacant, position left unattended. Doesn't sound good at all. I hate to read stuff like this. We have several kids and they all knew at least one of the 19.

Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Been There

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act states:

"Each employer must furnish to each of its employees employment, or a place of employment free from all recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm"

This clause is known as the "general duty clause"

ADOSH has proposed penalties of 70,000 for one serious willful violation, 14,000 for 2 serious violations and according to A.R.S. title 23, 25,000 for each death.

Money paid for violations is deposited in the Treasury Departments general fund.


Posted: Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Article comment by: Alan Whitney

Let's see what we have here...

Tax supported State agency Number 1, wants to fine tax supported State agency number two...

What are we missing?




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