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On June 28, a horrible wildfire broke out in Arizona. Now, after a 3-month long investigation, officials have released a 120-page investigative report blaming the deaths of 19 firefighters on a 30-minute radio blackout.
According to the Associated Press, the fire resulted in the highest number of firefighter deaths since Sept. 11, 2001.
The Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of backcountry firefighters, attempted to put out the flames of a fire caused by lightning in the town of Yarnell – unfortunately, only one man made it out alive.
Fox News reports that more than 100 homes covering about 13 square miles went down in flames before firefighters were able to get it under control, 12 days later.
The firefighters decided to leave their protected spot that day, in a 33-minute stretch where there was no radio communication that could have enabled officials to be aware of their location. When the wind changed direction, the fire quickly engulfed them. The reason the firefighters decided to move to a new location is unknown.
Scott Hunt, a member of the Arizona State Forestry Division, said, "As far as we know, their radios were working. They could communicate, they just did not communicate, some of that is pretty common."
The last radio communication recorded with the firefighters was a statement from the division leader, when he said, "Granite Mountain Hotshots Division Alpha. We are burning out around ourselves in the brush and I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters."
The state of Arizona will most likely be updating its guidelines, safety measures and technology for these situations in the future.