Tucson, AZ, United States (4E) – The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) has found that the state forestry department committed safety violations that led to the death of 19 firefighters during the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30.
The ADOSH recommended fining the Arizona State Forestry Division $559,000 as a result of its findings contained in a report released Wednesday. The state’s Industrial Commission approved the findings of the report, including a recommendation to pay $25,000 to dependents of each of the 19 members of the Granite Mountain hotshot team.
The firefighters were sent to defend structures and pastureland that were indefensible against fast-moving blaze, according to the report prepared by ADOSH consultant Wildland Fire Associates.
Forty-foot-high flames moving at 16 miles per hour trapped and killed the 19 firefighters in a rocky canyon near Prescott during the Yarnell Hill fire that burned more than 8,000 acres of wild land and destroyed over 100 structures.
A report by state fire investigators released in September agrees with the findings of ADOSH that a sudden change in the wind sent towering flames toward the crew. But the first report’s finding that there was no recklessness or negligence in the wildfire contradicts the ADOSH’s report that said the firefighters were inadequately briefed and had no good maps and radios that left them without good communication with incident commanders.
Forestry officials failed to include safety officers in crucial coordination meetings because of unexplained delays, said ADOSH safety compliance supervisor Marshall Krotenberg, according to Los Angeles Times.