A newly released video from a firefighter’s helmet-cam captured the last transmissions between dispatchers and the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died in the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona this June.
The wind-blown scenes and barely distinguishable audio reveal that the firefighters asked for airdrops of water or flame retardant in their last minutes. It also reveals the general confusion of the communication. The video was taken by a firefighter near the scene and released by state officials.
Firefighters Eric Marsh is heard saying, “Yeah, I’m here with Granite Mountain Hotshots. Our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush and I’ll give you a call when we are under the shelters.”
Marsh is referring to foil-lined fire-protection bags firefighters use as last-ditch efforts to survive.
Although the requested supplies never came, it’s possible they wouldn’t have helped. An aircraft would have needed to be within a couple minutes of the firefighters’ location, according to Outside Magazine, and the 50 mile-per-hour winds could easily have blown the water or retardant off target.
Still, the Arizona State Forestry Division was fined $559,000 for workplace safety violations relating to the fire. And families of the 19 have filed claims for millions of dollars in compensation.
IMAGE: A firefighter with the Silver City Hotshots is seen in front of burning embers in Newbury Park, Calif.. (Patrick T. Fallon/Corbis)