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Entries in Arizona (3)


Granite Mountain Hotshots – 19 Brave Souls Who Perished in Arizona Fire

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, part of the Prescott Fire Department, lost their lives Sunday, June 30th, while battling the 2,000-acre Yarnell Hill fire that ignited Friday south of Prescott.

Gusty, hot winds which made an sudden190 degree turn because of a sudden monsoon thunderstorm, blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing all but one member of the elite fire crew.  The wildfire is the deadliest involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 40 years – and the worst since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.

The firefighters were members of a “hotshot” crew – the ‘Granite Mountain Hotshots’, tasked with digging a firebreak and creating an escape route. The Hotshots are like the Navy SEALs of firefighters. Inter-agency Hotshot Crews are groups that specialize in going into fire areas on foot and removing things from their paths that will help prevent the spread and growth of the fire.They’re usually a 20-person crew, and they’re the ones who actually go in and dig the fire line, cut the brush to make a fuel break. And so they would be as close to the fire as they felt they safely could.

The crew were forced to deploy their fire shelters – tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat – when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell. However the flames overwhelmed this emergency protection, and 19 of 20 firefighters perished.

Monday evening the city of Prescott, Ariz. released the names of the other 16 victims:  Anthony Rose, 23; Eric Marsh, 43; Robert Caldwell, 23; Clayton Whitted , 28; Scott Norris, 28; Dustin Deford, 24; Sean Misner, 26; Garret Zuppiger, 27; Travis Carter, 31; Grant McKee, 21; Travis Turbyfill, 27; JesseSteed, 36; Wade Parker, 22; Joe Thurston, 32; William Warneke, 25; and John Percin, 24.

God bless their souls. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families in this time of unimaginable anguish. 


Border Patrol Agent Mistakenly Fired at Other Responding Agents

The head of the U.S. Border Patrol agents union says the agent killed last week in a shooting in southern Arizona apparently opened fire on two other agents thinking they were armed smugglers and was killed when they returned fire.

The two sets of agents approached an area where a sensor had been activated early Tuesday from different directions and encountered each other in an area of heavy brush, National Border Patrol Council president George McCubbin said.

Agent Nicholas Ivie apparently opened fire first and wounded one of the other agents but was killed in the return fire.

I dont know what it was he saw or heard that triggered this whole event, McCubbin said. Unfortunately it resulted in his death and another agent injured.

Acting Cochise County Sheriff Rod Rothrock confirmed the scenario but would not say if Ivie was the first to shoot, saying that was up to the federal agencies involved.

The new details add to a FBI statement Friday that the shooting appeared to be a friendly fire incident that involved no one but the agents.

McCubbin and Rothrock both said the two sets of agents knew the others were heading to the area on foot but apparently didnt know they were so close. McCubbin said hed been briefed by the agency, while Rothrocks agency has been involved with the investigation.

It was dark, very, very rugged terrain, and what they could see of each other was further obscured by the fact that there was brush and cacti and stuff like that between them, Rothrock said. I have no doubt that these agents were in as heightened a state of alert as you can get due to the proximity to the border and the history of trafficking in that area.

Rothrock said that when the agents spotted each other in the dark, they apparently took defensive postures, which was probably interpreted as aggressive postures. Like readying your weapons, for example.


Border Patrol Agent May Have Been Killed by Friendly Fire

FOX News and AP are reporting that the FBI is investigating the possibility that the fatal shooting of  U.S. Border Patrol Agent Nicholas Ivie and the wounding of another was a case of the agents exchanging fire among themselves, known as friendly fire. 

The conclusion is based on an analysis of the ballistics, the lack of evidence of other criminals in the area at the time, and other factors, the sources said. A formal statement about the findings could come later tonight.

State and federal officials said immediately after the incident that the shootings were committed by armed criminals.  And since then, Mexican authorities have said they arrested two men in Agua Prieta, northern Sonora state, a few miles from where the shooting occurred.

The probe is looking into whether the two agents exchanged gunfire Tuesday in the mistaken belief that each was being fired on by a hostile gunman. The shootings occurred five miles ( 8 kilometers) north of the Mexican border.

The shootings occurred in a rugged hilly area as Nicholas Ivie and two other agents responded to an alarm that was triggered on one of the sensors that the government has installed along the border. Ivie was fatally shot. The wounded agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks and released from the hospital after undergoing surgery. The third agent was not injured.

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