Yarnell Hill Fire report: Father fights for change after release of new information

PRESCOTT, AZ - The father of one of the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire is still trying to understand how his son died on June 30.

"I don't want another parent, wife, sister or brother to go through what we went through," said David Turbyfill, father of Granite Mountain Hotshot Travis Turbyfill. "It's a horrid tragedy."

A 120-page report was released Saturday morning on the investigation that went on for nearly three months.

"There are holes in the information," David said.

While maintaining that all guidelines were followed, the investigation found improperly programmed radios, vague updates, and a 30-minute communication blackout just before the flames engulfed the men.

"It's not normal and shouldn't be tolerated," said David.

Now armed with the full investigation report, he's hoping for change.

"I don't have any closure. It's the stepping stone piece of the issue and to me it is the next phase," he said.

The day went according to routine until the wind shifted, pushing a wall of fire that had been receding from the hotshots all day back toward them.

After that, hotshots failed to communicate their intentions to the command center outside the burn zone. Their colleagues thought the hotshots had decided to wait out the weather change in the safety of an already blackened area.

They were not heard from again until five minutes before they deployed their emergency shelters, which was more than a half hour after the weather warning was issued.

They had left the black zone, though they had no reason to doubt its safety, and dropped into a densely vegetated area, heading toward a ranch, according to the report.

The report states they failed to perceive the "excessive risk" of repositioning to this stop to continue fighting the fire.

So David will now fight to make sure future heroes won't be faced with the same obstacles as his son.

"They need a shelter they can rely on that they can deploy sooner and survive," David said. "These guys didn't die out of fear. They fought until the bitter end doing what they were trained to do."

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