Yarnell Hill Fire: Firefighters survived initial wildfire surge

(Source: CBS 5 News)

The Granite Mountain Hot Shots survived the initial explosion that caused the Yarnell Hill Fire to expand so rapidly.

A source with direct knowledge of what took place on the mountain on Sunday described what happened between 4:45 p.m., when the fire erupted, and 5:55 p.m., when the National Fire Administration estimated the firefighters deployed their fire shelters.

The source said the firefighters retreated into a previously burned area, known as "the black" to wildland firefighters.

At that point, the Granite Mountain Superintendent, Eric Marsh, spoke into his two-way radio and said, "We're in the black. We're good."

For a reason unknown to the source, the Granite Mountain crew left the area where they originally fled and tried to make it to a nearby ranch.

Fire investigators say the ranch was the crew's designated safety zone. But they never made it. The fire overtook the team in a basin, about a quarter of a mile from the ranch.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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