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Report Cites Radio Problems In Deaths Of 19 Arizona Firemen

The deaths were the worst firefighter-related tragedy since September 11th.

Christian Petersen / Getty Images

An investigation into the June 30 deaths of 19 elite Hotshot firefighters in Arizona cited “badly programmed radios, vague updates, and a 33-minute communication blackout while the men hiked out of their safe zone to the spot where they would eventually be overcome by the fire,” the AP reported.

The 120-page report, conducted by a team of local, state, and federal fire experts, stopped short of assigning blame, and said the men followed the proper procedure for the dangerous situation.

Investigators suggested an investment in better tracking technology, though there was no mention of whether the deaths could have been avoided, forcing some to wonder whether the tragedy should have been used as an opportunity to educate other firemen.

The Hotshots are a group of highly trained firemen who hike into deep backwoods to battle fast-spreading wildfires. While battling a blaze in the small gold rush town of Yarnell, Arizona, all but one member of the Granite Mountain Hotshots perished when the wind pushed a wall of fire toward them.

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Rachel Zarrell is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Rachel Zarrell at rachel.zarrell@buzzfeed.com
 
 
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