Families respond to Yarnell Hill Fire investigation

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by Natalie Brand

azfamily.com

Posted on December 4, 2013 at 10:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 10:20 PM

PHOENIX -- Juliann Ashcraft, widow of fallen Granite Mountain Hotshot Andrew Ashcraft, says the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) investigation into the Yarnell Hill Fire confirms what she knew all along.

"Nineteen men should not have died that day," Juliann Ashcraft told 3TV. "It should not have happened."

ADOSH issued three citations against the Arizona State Forestry Division, alleging the agency "mismanaged the fire when it failed to prioritize the safety of firefighters over the protection of non-defensible structures and property."

"They should not have been on that fire under those conditions," Juliann Ashcraft said.

ADOSH investigators also identified failure in planning and fire analysis as the Yarnell Hill Fire rapidly grew the weekend of June 29.

The citations resulted in penalties totaling $559,000, one of the largest penalties assessed by ADOSH to date. The amount includes $25,000 for each hotshot killed.

"I don't think there is any amount of money in the world that could do justice," said Dan Parker, father of fallen hotshot Wade Parker. "The only thing that would make this better is to have our loved ones back."

Parker and the Ashcraft family say while they're satisfied with the outcome of the latest investigation, they still have questions.

The ADOSH report notes that the U.S. Forest Service denied its requests to interview Forest Service employees who worked the Yarnell Hill Fire.

"Who is hiding what information that we need in order to be able to heal and move forward," asked Juliann Ashcraft.

She and her father-in-law, Tom Ashcraft, say they will stop at nothing to make sure a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again.

"We can take the truth," Tom Ashcraft said. "We've lost our loved ones. We've lost our sons and husbands. We just want the truth, and today a lot of that came out."
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"I just want and need changes to policy and procedure," Juliann Ashcraft said. "I need answers so I can heal; so my children can know what happened to their dad."

The Arizona State Forestry Division has not yet commented on Wednesday's report. The agency has 15 working days to contest the citations and assessed penalties before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.

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