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19 firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire were part of elite Hotshot crew

MaggieD

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The 19 firefighters killed Sunday in Arizona were members of an elite crew known for battling the region’s worst fires, including two earlier this season before all but one member of the team died in the deadliest U.S. wildfire for firefighters in decades.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said the 19 firefighters, whose names had not been released, were part of the city’s fire department. Before the fire near Yarnell, the group — one of 13 Arizona Hotshot crews — had been profiled in local media last year as they prepared for the fire season and this year as they took on a blaze near Prescott earlier this month...

State forestry spokesman Art Morrison told the Associated Press that the firefighters were forced to deploy their emergency fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught in the fire. An estimated 200 homes were also destroyed by the blaze, which fed on dry grass near the communities of Yarnell and Grand Island.

Read more: 19 firefighters killed in Arizona wildfire were part of elite Hotshot crew | Fox News

I can only imagine the terror these guys went through when they realized they were surrounded with nowhere to go. Awful.

.
 

WCH

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This is what they chose to do with their lives. God Bless them for their service.
 

j-mac

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OMG....What a way to go...These people are what we need today. I constantly stand in awe of certain members of this generation that volunteers to do these types of needed jobs selflessly....They are the best of the best.
 

MaggieD

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This would appear to be the tent they deployed:

fire_shelter_deploy.JPG

According to what I read, they're mandatory equipment for every wildfire firefighter. They've saved upwards of 300 lives. Apparently, they count on the fire burning over them in a hurry.

OMG.
 

KevinKohler

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These were the best of the best. Think...the green berets of the fire fighter world. Top scores on their cpats, etc.

But no one controls the wind. Damn crying shame. I feel for their families.
 

joko104

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I would guess they died from carbon monoxide and lack of oxygen, not from being burned to death. They probably did not suffer being burned to death, but rather likely were gassed to death or lack of oxygen.

Speculatively, being featured on TV may have lead them psychologically to take more risks then normal to prove/believing how good they are. Can't know.

Fires can shift to conflagrations very quickly and without warning. This happens when the heat of a fire becomes so high that it is that heat - not actual flame travel - spreading the fire. In the past in major urban fires, even fire engines would get trapped when that started happening - suddenly all the buildings across the street would just explode in flames from the intense heat. In wildfires, that effect then also can be enhanced by wind and wind shift.

Grassfires, if intense and combined with dry dead tree and bush droppings can travel almost as fast as the wind itself as it takes little to cause grass to flame even without any flames yet reaching it.
 

Medusa

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so horrible so sorry
 

MaggieD

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I would guess they died from carbon monoxide and lack of oxygen, not from being burned to death. They probably did not suffer being burned to death, but rather likely were gassed to death or lack of oxygen.

Speculatively, being featured on TV may have lead them psychologically to take more risks then normal to prove/believing how good they are. Can't know.

Fires can shift to conflagrations very quickly and without warning. This happens when the heat of a fire becomes so high that it is that heat - not actual flame travel - spreading the fire. In the past in major urban fires, even fire engines would get trapped when that started happening - suddenly all the buildings across the street would just explode in flames from the intense heat. In wildfires, that effect then also can be enhanced by wind and wind shift.

Grassfires, if intense and combined with dry dead tree and bush droppings can travel almost as fast as the wind itself as it takes little to cause grass to flame even without any flames yet reaching it.

Makes sense. And I hope you're right -- that they died from lack of oxygen. I think they'd know that -- because if they were found in their tents, that's what it would indicate I think. I don't care how "protected" one would believe they'd be in their tent, when the pain from the flames became too severe, they'd be on their feet running. I think that makes me feel better. Gads.

I hope this gives pause to firefighting strategy. ?? The reporters did say that the reason they were there at all was to save homes -- although I'm sure they were trying to contain the fire more than anything. I'd think fire containment could be fought from the air. ?? (Listen to Armchair Firefighting Quarterback MaggieD.)
 

austrianecon

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According to what I read, they're mandatory equipment for every wildfire firefighter. They've saved upwards of 300 lives. Apparently, they count on the fire burning over them in a hurry.
OMG.

There is a lot of issues at play other then burning over them quickly. It's gives them a 50/50 chance (at best). A fire can quickly burn around you yet every ounce of oxygen is used up and you can suffocate.
 

joko104

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In dry seasons around here, constant deliberate control-fire are an absolute must. There are hundreds of thousands of acres highly inaccessible and with literally a couple foot deep layer of dry dead palm prawns, branches, leaves, dead grass, branches, pine needles with then the dried upper grown grass and bushes too. If that gets going by a fire, usually caused by lightling storms, the fire is intense and difficult to reach if not impossible.

For this, every year, there is a bulldozed maze of fire lanes for access - which double somewhat as fire slow-downs. However, there also are continuous controlled burns too to limit how much a fire can spread - as fire won't burn thru an already burned out patch. Yet the areas so diverse and government owned, no one complains.

In California and apparently Arizona and other areas, homeowners don't what patches of wildland near THEIR houses control burned. As a result, there will always be "out of control" and enormous wildfires there. Fighting fire with fire is a necessity, and when denied the result WILL be massive fires and lose of life and property.

If one studies nature without human intervention, fire is a natural cycle both to prevent catastrophic mass fires and for new growth and new life. But no one with a house in the hills or mountains wants to see a patch of burned land while driving home, so this isn't done - and the consequences 100% predictable later - a worse, more destructive and more deadly fires.
 

Erod

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If California would go back to their old practice of removing the underbrush from open areas - which environmentalists were successful at stopping - it would get rid of a lot of the "gasoline" that feeds these fires.
 

austrianecon

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These were the best of the best. Think...the green berets of the fire fighter world. Top scores on their cpats, etc.

But no one controls the wind. Damn crying shame. I feel for their families.

Let me start of by saying my wife's cousin worked for the Prescott Fire Department and was a Hot Shot with the department until last year and since moved on to better things. So it's big deal to my wife and her family as they knew most of them. I barely remember meeting them at barbecues. So I am not being rude, insensitive or anything like that with what I am about to say.

Okay.. two issues.. 1) They were close to best of the best but Smokejumpers are the best of the best when it comes to wildfires. But no big deal it can be confusing.

2) Weren't you one of those I was arguing with about knowledge and how it shouldn't be free (my position) because training and certification is very important? You said having an AST cert didn't mean you were a good mechanic or something to that effect? These guys were highly trained (years of it) and despite their training they couldn't survive. Yet if these guys (and gals) didn't exist and didn't have exclusive training you'd have hundreds of deaths a year from the average joe learning on the fly.
 

austrianecon

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If California would go back to their old practice of removing the underbrush from open areas - which environmentalists were successful at stopping - it would get rid of a lot of the "gasoline" that feeds these fires.

And this happened in Arizona.
 

MaggieD

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Let me start of by saying my wife's cousin worked for the Prescott Fire Department and was a Hot Shot with the department until last year and since moved on to better things. So it's big deal to my wife and her family as they knew most of them. I barely remember meeting them at barbecues. So I am not being rude, insensitive or anything like that with what I am about to say.

Okay.. two issues.. 1) They were close to best of the best but Smokejumpers are the best of the best when it comes to wildfires. But no big deal it can be confusing.

2) Weren't you one of those I was arguing with about knowledge and how it shouldn't be free (my position) because training and certification is very important? You said having an AST cert didn't mean you were a good mechanic or something to that effect? These guys were highly trained (years of it) and despite their training they couldn't survive. Yet if these guys (and gals) didn't exist and didn't have exclusive training you'd have hundreds of deaths a year from the average joe learning on the fly.

I don't remember that discussion with you. At all. I think it must've been someone else. ??
 

calamity

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Aw, Man! :( Awful
 

GottaGo

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If California would go back to their old practice of removing the underbrush from open areas - which environmentalists were successful at stopping - it would get rid of a lot of the "gasoline" that feeds these fires.

BIL used to run heavy equip for the State of California, digging fire breaks and directional trenches for landslides, until his age and back gave out on him.

He used to say they always waited to the last minute to do preventive work, rather than planning well ahead, because they didn't have enough people to keep up with it.

What a horrible shame for those fire fighters.
 

Erod

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And this happened in Arizona.

I know, I was just making a point.

There are many who believe that fires in Arizona are started intentionally in order to distract authorities while illegal immigrants are crossing borders and making their way through the state.
 

mike2810

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In dry seasons around here, constant deliberate control-fire are an absolute must. There are hundreds of thousands of acres highly inaccessible and with literally a couple foot deep layer of dry dead palm prawns, branches, leaves, dead grass, branches, pine needles with then the dried upper grown grass and bushes too. If that gets going by a fire, usually caused by lightling storms, the fire is intense and difficult to reach if not impossible.

For this, every year, there is a bulldozed maze of fire lanes for access - which double somewhat as fire slow-downs. However, there also are continuous controlled burns too to limit how much a fire can spread - as fire won't burn thru an already burned out patch. Yet the areas so diverse and government owned, no one complains.

In California and apparently Arizona and other areas, homeowners don't what patches of wildland near THEIR houses control burned. As a result, there will always be "out of control" and enormous wildfires there. Fighting fire with fire is a necessity, and when denied the result WILL be massive fires and lose of life and property.

If one studies nature without human intervention, fire is a natural cycle both to prevent catastrophic mass fires and for new growth and new life. But no one with a house in the hills or mountains wants to see a patch of burned land while driving home, so this isn't done - and the consequences 100% predictable later - a worse, more destructive and more deadly fires.

Some have practiced firewise methods. Some have not.

Fire is natural, yet you must consider the ecosystem. There are fire dependent (lodgepole, ponderosa pine) and there are fire independent (sonorana desert). systems.

Many lower elevation areas of AZ are fire independent. Fire historically did not play a role. One of the reasons these areas are buring is due to the introduction of exotic species (cheatgrass, red brome, salt cedar) when the west was settled. These exotics are fire dependent. They thrive after burning and can outcompete native independent vegetation. So fire is natural. It just has a different role depending on the vegetation.

As far as firewise. People should do more to protect their homes. This does not deflect from the tragic loss of firefighters.
 

austrianecon

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Makes sense. And I hope you're right -- that they died from lack of oxygen. I think they'd know that -- because if they were found in their tents, that's what it would indicate I think. I don't care how "protected" one would believe they'd be in their tent, when the pain from the flames became too severe, they'd be on their feet running. I think that makes me feel better. Gads.

I hope this gives pause to firefighting strategy. ?? The reporters did say that the reason they were there at all was to save homes -- although I'm sure they were trying to contain the fire more than anything. I'd think fire containment could be fought from the air. ?? (Listen to Armchair Firefighting Quarterback MaggieD.)

Some of them died in their tents. Some did not. It was a firestorm (no not the movie with Howie Long) but basically conflagration. They are trained not to run as you can't outrun a firestorm/conflagration. It's dig hole to give you some air between you and your tent and pray.

At the time they were clearing an exit.
 

Woodman909

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... being featured on TV may have lead them psychologically to take more risks then normal to prove/believing how good they are. ....

I find this insinuating comment insulting to the courage of these brave young men, who put themselves between YOUR homes and property and the danger of a horrible blaze. Shame on you!
 

austrianecon

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I find this insinuating comment insulting to the courage of these brave young men, who put themselves between YOUR homes and property and the danger of a horrible blaze. Shame on you!

But it does happen.
 
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