Investigators to examine why Yarnell Hill Fire killed 19 firefighters

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by The Associated Press

Video report by Steve Bodinet

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 1:43 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 5 at 10:30 AM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) -- Investigators are in the Arizona mountain town of Yarnell to figure out why 19 elite firefighters perished in an out-of-control wildfire and whether human error played a role in the tragedy.
   
The investigation will look at whether the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew paid attention to the forecast, created an escape route and took other precautions developed after a similar disaster in Colorado nearly two decades ago.

The team of about 10 investigators from various agencies also will look at whether the crew should have been pulled out before the Yarnell Hill Fire exploded on Sunday.

As part of the investigation, the team will review Sunday's weather conditions, fire department records, radio logs and any other evidence that may help determine how to prevent a similar tragedy in the future.
   
"We are confident that the investigative team will find lessons to be learned from this tragedy," Arizona State Forester Scott Hunt said. "We have a responsibility to those lost and their loved ones, as well as to current and future wildland firefighters, to understand what happened as completely as possible."

About 500 firefighters are fighting powerful winds as they continue to battle the fire, which has burned about 13 square miles.
   
Yavapai County authorities said about 200 homes and other structures burned in Yarnell, and hundreds of people have been evacuated.

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