Investigation of Fatal Arizona Fire Underway

Federal fire investigators were arriving on the scene of the Yarnell Hill Fire on Tuesday to try to figure out how and why 19 firefighters died battling the still-uncontrolled central Arizona wildfire.
July 3, 2013

Federal fire investigators were arriving on the scene of the Yarnell Hill Fire on Tuesday to try to figure out how and why 19 firefighters died battling the still-uncontrolled central Arizona wildfire.

Karen Takai, spokeswoman for the firefighting command that took charge of the blaze Monday evening, said investigators were expected to arrive during the day but would not begin examining the scene of the deaths until Wednesday.

"Today they're just coming together,'' she said.

She offered the first public description of the setting where the firefighters, all members of the Prescott Fire Department's elite Granite Mountain Hotshots team, died when they were overcome by flames Sunday.

She said they were working on a side slope of a hill or mountain in the valley near Yarnell, Ariz., where the fire has consumed more than 8,000 acres. She said the setting was a combination of substantial rocks and dry vegetation that fuels the fire. She said the area was typical of the valley below the town of Yarnell, which sits at 4,780 feet elevation.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Public Safety & Justice