The official investigation into the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots killed June 30, 2013, on the Yarnell Hill Fire began Tuesday. On Friday, July 5, 2013, the Serious Accident Investigation Team issued the 72-Hour Preliminary Report. The report indicates the 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were entrapped when flames overran their position in the late afternoon on Sunday, June 30, 2013. Eye witnesses state that fire behavior was extreme with heavy winds.
The Serious Accident Investigation Team (SAIT), made up of specialists from state, local and federal agencies around the country, will conduct an accident review of the Yarnell Hill Fire. The team will conduct interviews, collect documentation and perform a site review. The data and information gathered can be used to help gain an understanding of events. The team will deliver a factual and management report to the Arizona State Forester once the report is compiled. The intent of the investigation is to learn from the events leading up to this accident to help prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
The process is meticulous and it will take time in order to provide the most thorough, comprehensive product possible, ensuring that lessons learned are shared across all agencies. Examples of how previous serious accidents and incidents have been utilized to facilitate learning within the wildland fire community can be found via the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center at http://wildfirelessons.net.