The lone survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire

Brendan Mcdonough survived the Yarnell Hill Fire, the only of of the Granite Mountain 19 to do so. Since he was posted as a lookout, he was not with the crew at the time the fire changed directions. He was ordered to leave his post, and he did. Why wasn't the hotshot crew ordered to leave as well? That question is still unanswered.

Listening to his interview is chilling, and reminded me of the many fires I'd been on and the potential for things to go wrong. At  the time, I trusted my supervisors. Now, I wonder how many close calls I had that had the potential to be far worse.

Former firefighter arrested for arson

Another former firefighter has been arrested for starting not only wildfires, but structure fires, too. This happens more often than one would like to think. I've always thought that people who love firefighting have a fascination with fire, and some cross the line to being so obsessive as to start their own, but I'm appalled it took them so long to catch this guy.

The problems with fire shelters

Anyone who is following the controversy behind the deaths of the Granite Mountain 19 has probably asked the question at least once: Why didn't the fire shelters save their lives?

When handed one of the first prototypes in 1977, my crew and I all were skeptical, and swore we would run rather than deploy. We also resented having to carry more weight, which slowed us down and meant carrying less drinking water - downright deadly when firefighting in the desert southwest. That skepticism prevails among fire crews today.

The original fire shelters were designed to withstand temperatures of 500 degrees F. Considering forest fires can reach temperatures up to 2000 degrees - what's the point? While we have the technology to build a better fire shelter that can withstand these high temperatures, they would be weight prohibitive, adding 40 lbs. to a firefighters gear. That is an unreasonable amount of weight to carry in addition to gear and water when you are trudging up steep slopes.

Researchers are working hard to come up with a better option without all the weight. The safety of firefighters on the line is more than carrying a better fire shelter, however. Had communications between the fire boss and the Granite Mountain 19 been better, someone would have recognized sooner they were in a dangerous place, and removed them before the tragedy hit.

Video of Granite Mountain 19s last few minutes chilling

This video, posted on Wildfire Today, makes the tragedy all too real.

It's quite apparent that management thought they were in a safe zone (the black), when it fact they were not. Seems to me that as important good communications are, they were sure lacking in this case. When overhead questioned the Hotshot's location, why didn't anyone ask them where they were?