Register | Forgot Your Password? | Close

PHOENIX -- There will be changes on the fire lines this year after last June's Yarnell Hill fire left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Arizona State Forester Scott Hunt can't say if the Yarnell tragedy is responsible for the changes because of pending lawsuits, but his agency has pre-positioned equipment around the state earlier than normal. In some cases, they will hit fires earlier and harder than last year.

"It will depend on the area and what we're seeing in our fire behavior predictions," he said.

Another change this year is that the state will team up with the forest service and its San Dimas Technology Center to test GPS tracking units that will be part of some firefighters' gear.

"We're looking at a couple of different commercial models that we're going to use," said Hunt. "We'll put them with various fire organizations and see how useful they are in the wildland firefighting environment."

Hunt said they're also working on better communications between various agencies when they are battling wildfires.

"Sharing our frequencies and making sure our frequencies are loaded on our interagency partners radios so we all have the same frequencies."

The Serious Accident Investigation team report found there was a communication gap of more than 30 minutes, when the Granite Mountain crew did not communicate their location or plans before they died.

The Yarnell Hill Fire burned 8,400 acres, destroyed more than 125 structures and forced hundreds to evacuate in Yarnell, Glen Ilah and Peeples Valley.

Jim Cross, Reporter

share this story:
Attention Comment Users: We have recently changed our comments boards.
We would like you to be part of the conversation and The Voice of Arizona by logging in with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing KTAR (Arizona Sports) account members will need to create a Disqus account or use one of the aforementioned social media logins. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus

World Class Arizona

  • Dignity Health

    World Class People. World Class Company. Excellent care, delivered with compassion, for all in need.

Voice For A Better Arizona

  • Family in Focus

    KTAR spends the week taking a look at the issues a modern Arizona family faces.