Ohh, No.


Nineteen firefighters were killed battling a fast-moving wildfire menacing a small town in central Arizona, the United States Wildland Fire Aviation Service said on Sunday.

The firefighters died fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire, near the small town of Yarnell about 80 miles northwest of Phoenix, the service said in a Facebook post.

Those guys are pros, so the wind had to have just shifted on them inexplicably or something. Christ.

And so Monday starts with horrible news to begin what will most likely be another shitty fucking week with a lot of death and pain and suffering, more bullshit, and, in light of the most recent SCOTUS decisions, more racism and gay-bashing, all while an incompetent neo-confederate house continually shits the bed and blocks anything remotely positive from happening in Congress.

America, Fuck Yeah! Happy Monday, bitches.

123 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    Just heard. Horrifying.

  2. 2
    trollhattan says:

    I’m gobsmacked by this. Know some CalFire folks so am curious as to their take.

    One can “debate” whether this hurricane or that tornado is a climate change product, but western wildfires are, without question. We have to get our arms around this.

  3. 3
    GregB says:

    Terrible event. Just terrible.

  4. 4
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    I can’t remember where I read it (wikipedia?), but there was an infamous fire that turned quickly on a group of forest fire fighters back in the 30s, 40s, 50s (?) that lead to a greater understanding of how brush fires can get out of control. There was like one guy who survived. I wish I could remember the name of the fire, or the link.

    I was remembering it just today, oddly enough.

    Anyway, RIP.

    ETA: None of that is meant to disparage the climate change. It’s just something I had in RAM.

  5. 5
    Yatsuno says:

    It must have been a sudden change that cut off any avenue of escape. Horrid.

  6. 6
    Jon H says:

    Funding cuts? Perhaps?

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Mnemosyne says:

    Ugh. I’m guessing at least some of them were California-based — the Forestry Service sends our guys to states all over the West and Southwest to help out with fires.

  9. 9
    Steeplejack says:

    @Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS):

    Mann Gulch fire (1949)? Written about by Norman Maclean in Young Men and Fire (1993), an excellent book.

  10. 10
    Punchy says:

    If they were allowed to carry glocks and AR-15s on them, none of this would have happened.

  11. 11
    Suzanne says:

    Apparently this wiped out one entire unit of the Prescott Fire Department. Prescott is a beautiful place, and this is a horrible tragedy.

  12. 12
    FMguru says:

    Jesus. Burning to death is one of the most painful ways to go, too. I hope smoke asphyxiation got them first, for their sake.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    LATimes notes a 1933 fire in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park that killed “at least 25” firefighters.

  14. 14
    Suzanne says:

    The Arizona Republic is also reporting that half of the homes in the area are going to burn. God.

  15. 15
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here’s a link to the AP story via Yahoo. It sounds like the fire turned on them too quickly for them to get away.

  16. 16
    Face says:

    I’m not yet sure how this is Obamas fault, but Im quite sure by morning Jen Rubin/Scar/Fox and Fucks will let me know.

  17. 17
    CaseyL says:

    Horrible, tragic news. My heart goes out to their families, friends and colleagues.

  18. 18
    kooks says:

    Both training and prevention of wildfires were items that took big hits in budget cuts – at some point, you would think muthafucking teabaggers would get that there are consequences to policy choices and some gov’t programs are worth funding.


    A combination of government austerity and the ballooning cost of battling the ruinous fires has taken a bite out of federal efforts to remove the dead trees and flammable underbrush that clog Western forests. The U.S. Forest Service says that next year it expects to treat 1 million fewer acres than it did last year.


    PRESCOTT – More than 700 firefighters are coming to town for the 11th annual Arizona Wildfire and Incident Management Academy that begins today, but another 80 won’t be here as planned because of the federal government’s “sequester” budget cuts.

    The week-long academy stresses safety on the fire line and other emergency situations. It teaches a wide variety of classes in a setting that mimics the incident management system used on wildfires and other large disasters.

  19. 19
    SectionH says:

    Oh fuck. And that’s the least profanity I’m thinking.

  20. 20
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    @elspi: Thanks, I was furiously searching that and was about to post that very link. I can’t remember where I read it or saw it in a documentary, but it was a terrible event, and just illustrated how quickly things can go pear-shaped.

  21. 21
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    @Steeplejack: Yeah, that was it. I want to say it might have been LGM where I first saw it, maybe a book review.

  22. 22
    Suzanne says:

    Also, much of AZ is still under an excessive heat warning for two more days. So this fire is going to get worse before it gets better.

  23. 23
    Suzanne says:

    ……aaaaand we just got a dust storm/haboob warning. Because THAT would make this situation better.

  24. 24
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    @Suzanne: I’m sorry, but “haboob warning” just makes me giggle. I know it’s serious, and I apologize for the chuckle.

  25. 25
    Linnaeus says:

    Argh. Hell in a handbasket, friends.

  26. 26


    I’m not yet sure how this is Obamas fault, but Im quite sure by morning Jen Rubin/Scar/Fox and Fucks will let me know.

    I’m going to guess either the hippies wouldn’t let Arizona cut fire breaks, or Obama’s blackness caused Arizona to not spend money on wildfire protection and services.

  27. 27
    LT says:

    I’ve got firefighters in my direct dfamily. All firefighters are a family – I know theyr’e feeling it tonight. Just horrible. 18 from one company, maybe? Just horrible?

  28. 28


    Both training and prevention of wildfires were items that took big hits in budget cuts – at some point, you would think muthafucking teabaggers would get that there are consequences to policy choices and some gov’t programs are worth funding.

    This event is really baffling. After the DOMA/Prop 8 decisions, Jesus’s weeping should have put the fire out. Everyone was counting on that.

  29. 29
    Anoniminous says:

    Well, well, well.

    Anonymous Hacks Neo-Nazis, Finds Ron Paul

    Imagine my surprise.

  30. 30
    Suzanne says:

    @Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS): It IS a hilarious word. But the lack of visibility is really dangerous. The storms come on so fast that people don’t have time to get off the roads and get inside.

  31. 31
    LT says:

    @Mnemosyne: 18 of them were from Prescott:

    Prescott Fire Department confirms that 18 of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots died fighting the fire.

    Too fucking much.


  32. 32
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    @Suzanne: Oh, believe me, I know. Living in tornado country (and dreaming about one last night), I completely understand.

  33. 33
    LT says:

    rticle on Granite Mountain, Hotshots, just from the other day:


  34. 34
    MikeJ says:


    It IS a hilarious word. But the lack of visibility is really dangerous.

    I recall reading wingnuts who were livid about local media using the word haboob because it was arabic and makes baby Jesus cry because you remember how he was constantly going on about how much he hated them.

  35. 35
    Suzanne says:

    @Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS): numerous times I’ve been driving and then all of a sudden the wall of dust appears, and you get about two mounts before it hits and you can’t see SHIT. More winds and dust in the air will make fighting this fire even worse.

  36. 36
    freelancer says:


    Yesterday was brutal. I knew idiots that went out golfing yesterday, and tonight it’s been cloudy and hazy.
    “Hey is it in the 120s? Let’s add humidity!”

  37. 37
    kc says:


    “I’ll be at CPAC from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12. I’ll send back reports to you from personal meetings with Ron Paul, newly-elected Senator Rand Paul

    So much for Presidential Candidate Rand Paul.

  38. 38
    Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS) says:

    @Suzanne: I wish them the best in bad circumstances. I apologize if it sounded like I was minimizing the difficulty in fighting the fire.

  39. 39
    Suzanne says:

    @freelancer: Morons. I stayed the fuck inside. I don’t need heatstroke or sunburn.

  40. 40

    That really sucks, man. That really sucks.

  41. 41
    Suzanne says:

    @Brother Machine Gun of Desirable Mindfulness (fka AWS): Oh, no worries. I know you were just snacking on the hilarity of the term. It IS pretty damn great.

    Good thing I didn’t wash my car this weekend.

  42. 42
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Anoniminous: Interesting, but that article is also a year and a half old.

  43. 43
    wobbly says:

    Worst day for firefighters since 9/!!/2001!

    It was terrorists then but now?

    It’s the climate.

  44. 44

    What a terrible way to go.

  45. 45
    Suzanne says:

    Haboob is here.

  46. 46
    Anoniminous says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    Yup but the information needs to keep being circulated until it becomes CW.


    Only if it becomes widespread knowledge.

  47. 47
    Leszek Pawlowicz says:

    I have two friends who worked with this crew on the Doce Fire last week, just north of Prescott; they’re just broken up about this. One of them was offered work on this new fire with this crew, but some gut instinct told him to pass even though he needed the money. They’re all locals from the Prescott area, so this hits doubly hard.

  48. 48
    ruemara says:

    @kooks: This. Absolutely this. The consequences of the sequester are costing people their lives.

  49. 49
    Suzanne says:

    Yesterday was the 4th-hottest day in Phoenix history (119 at the airport, many other areas even hotter). Also set a record for hottest minimum temperature.

    NWS issued an excessive heat warning for both PHX and the area where the fire is until July 2.

    FUUUUUCK. This place is literally the closest thing we have to hell on earth right now. I hope that they’re able to fight that fire. Last summer, the wildfires were devastating.

  50. 50
    jenn says:

    Yeah – makes me think we need to revisit when and where we send ground crews. These chaparral fires are deeply dangerous. Fortunately in my wildland firefighting days, I was focused on actual forest fires, and our exurban stints were relatively few and far between. I’m also wondering if we need to have a conversation about under what conditions we ask folks to risk their lives for buildings within highly flammable habitats. Forests are bad enough, but chapparal *wants* to burn in a conflagration.

  51. 51

    @Suzanne: holy shit I just googled it because I’ve never heard of this. Yikes. I remember the occasional dust storm in the desert, but nothing like that.

  52. 52
    dmbeaster says:

    Speaking of right wings nuts and fire fighting budgrts, even being burned out fails to educate them. In the last decade, rural San Diego County (as wingnutty as you can get) suffered two massive wildfires, each burning hundreds of homes. After the first one, wingnuts tried to blame it on Gray Davis, even though their was ample coverage that massive underfunding of rural fire fighting assets and organization seriously crippled fire figfighting efforts. So there were proposals to increase property taxes and reorganize all the little firefighting districts, which failed. Then the disaster occurred again. They will not learn, and dont expect Arizona to wise up either

  53. 53
    piratedan says:

    @ruemara: that’s Paul Gosar’s (R) district, won’t need three guesses to know how he voted……

    sad for the loss of life, these guys travel all over, bouncing from state to state, but harder this year with the federal funding drying up. IIRC heard that thanks to the fuckery in the House, some of these guys are still missing their pay from last year.

  54. 54
    piratedan says:

    @Suzanne: same here in the south, 113 today in the Old Pueblo, looks like we got some rain in this evening, cooled it down to 77 around 2130.

  55. 55
    dmbeaster says:

    Death Va@Suzanne: Death Valley was forecast to hit 130, but only made it to 127. At 10 at night, it was still 110 with a predicted overnight low of 97. ptedicted

  56. 56
    jenn says:

    @jenn: Just to clarify – I’m not saying we shouldn’t fight those fires, just look at where we draw the line between sending out ground crews and focusing more on retardant drops, etc.

  57. 57
    Yatsuno says:

    @dmbeaster: If there is a chance to blame a welfare queen, a Democrat, or a blah President, they will take that every. single. time. Because conservatism cannot fail, it can only be failed.

  58. 58
    srv says:

    Sad. Am going to be dealing with a lot of chaparral over the next few years, presuming Napa county doesn’t get in the way.

    Prepare for Obama as destroyer of the Car Culture. Bails them out, then destroys them with his fru-fru czar-driven ecocars.

  59. 59

    @dmbeaster: I wonder if at some point the county or the state won’t just say fuck you, you’re not handling it anymore. The Witch Creek fire was pretty damn close to the city. And we have tons of little canyons that would be great conduits for a fire. I can’t imagine the prospect of America’s Finest City going up in flames is something state Democrats would take lightly, but then maybe they’re prevented from doing anything?

  60. 60
    Suzanne says:

    @SatanicPanic: I moved to AZ in 1988. The first ten years I was here, we had one big haboob like that. In the last four years, we’ve had more than five every year. 2011 was the worst. The storm came up from the south, rolling across the desert, and then hit, and it stayed for hours. Car wrecks all over the place.

  61. 61
    2liberal says:


    coverage from AZ republic

  62. 62
    Manly T. Randsauce, Libertarian Adventurer says:

    This wouldn’t have happened with privately funded fire protection services. The invisible hand of the market would have fanned the flames away from any non-government employee.

  63. 63

    @Suzanne: I moved out of the southern California desert in 1996, so maybe that’s why I never experienced that. That’s really a bad sign. It seems like climate change is really picking up in recent years.

  64. 64
    Joey Maloney says:


    So much for Presidential Candidate Rand Paul.

    If only it were that easy. “It’s a lie, and if it’s not a lie I wasn’t there, and if I was there I didn’t know who they were, and if I did know who they were, Obamamuslimblackityblackblack!” said Patriotic American Rand Paul, and Dancin’ Dave nodded solemnly.

  65. 65
    gmanninaz says:

    Local news has 18 deceased, one member of the Prescott team was in the area, but not with his team. . . A member from another team may be the 19 victim. . .


  66. 66
    Narcissus says:

    I figure that climate change-fueled wildfires will keep getting worse and stuff like this will keep happening until some mid-sized city gets burned and then suddenly people will notice.

  67. 67
    scav says:

    damn. damn damn.

    and while one half is baking, the Chicago area just broke the record for wettest first six months since 1975 (records since 1882). We’ve already had more rain than all of last year.

    Nothing going on here. Just God getting grumpy, right?

  68. 68
    Ben W says:

    @Steeplejack: Seconded. An amazing read. RIP.

  69. 69
    Chris says:


    I figure that climate change-fueled wildfires will keep getting worse and stuff like this will keep happening until some mid-sized city gets burned and then suddenly people will notice.

    “If it’s CITIES getting burned, they’re probably full of liberals and other scum, so it’s God’s vengeance and we must abide by his law!” (recites Latin verses, then hits self on forehead with book)

  70. 70
    Charles says:

    More casualties in the War on Fire.

    These big fires are largely *caused* by decades of fire suppression. When we reflexively put out every low-level ground fire in a fire-dependent ecosystem we are creating the very conditions that lead to deadlier catastrophic fires.

    Just as in our other wars, we laud the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers while sending them into a fundamentally misguided and counterproductive mission.

  71. 71
    Yatsuno says:


    recites Latin verses

    BZZZT!!! No Papists heah mister! We all know Jeebus only spoke English just like in the Bible!

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    So, let me guess. Are the wingtards outraged at the word “Admiral”? “Algebra”? “Alcohol”?

    That’s just in the A’s!

  73. 73
    scav says:

    @Charles: That’s entirely ignoring the recent trends of people moving into fire-prone areas
    pdf of study on public safety issues
    Pdf on means of detecting such changes
    and I’ve read stuff elsewhere that people in those fringes often aren’t willing to maintain fire-safe / minimizing environments because they moved there for the “wilderness” blahblah. equally stupid.

    For the record, I grew up in a chaparral environment, had a father that fought any number of wildland fires and have watched and helped feed the Hotshots that showed up. So I’ve been paying attention over and above having friends and former colleagues studying the issue.

  74. 74
    Chris says:


    But Grand Kleagle, they hate hippies too! And… some of them are white!

  75. 75
    Comrade Colette Collaboratrice says:

    Dreadful, dreadful, terrible news. It makes my heart hurt. But this:

    another shitty fucking week with a lot of death and pain and suffering, more bullshit, and, in light of the most recent SCOTUS decisions, more racism and gay-bashing

    … from my viewpoint in our lovely bubble in San Francisco, at least looks only half-true at worst. I’ve had the good fortune to be down on Castro Street and in and out of City Hall (I’m a City employee) and around town several times since the Supreme Court decision and then since the stay on same-sex marriage was lifted on Friday, and there is such joy and delight and celebration and peace of mind at long last, not only in the gay community but throughout the community at large. It doesn’t make the tragedies all around us any less, but it is an unmitigated Good Thing.

  76. 76
    Yatsuno says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Do. Not. Get. Them. Started. I can’t find it now but there was a movement in the South to forbid teaching algebra because it was invented by Muslims. I wonder if we should tell them the concept of zero comes from India.

  77. 77
    scav says:

    @Yatsuno: Better yet, if we can get them to reject zero, it’s a minor step to rejecting the entire number system. We can watch them do long division using Latin system or using the checker board and tiles method as time-sanctified in the Bureau of the Exchequer.

    Zero was independently invented by the Mayan (or maybe an earlier Mesoam. group). More pagans! So no way they can substitute that south of the border wet-back immigrant alternative source.

  78. 78
    BillinGlendaleCA says:


    …the concept of zero comes from India

    Blasphemy, zero is in the bible, Fred 32:17 and in red letters so jebus said it.

  79. 79
    Elias says:

    What an awful day. A couple weeks ago a smokejumper I used to work with died on the fireline. Cutting a tree and a branch dropped and that was lights out forever.

    Now 19 more on a single fire. I could be wrong but that’s the biggest loss of firefighters on a forest fire since the Great Depression. Damn.

    This sucks.

  80. 80
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Luckily we have a dramatic reenactment.

  81. 81
    Thymezone says:


    All of the men apparently from Prescott, about 30 miles away. Experienced crew. Severe wind shift, trapped, no escape. Nearby town half destroyed by the fire .. so far. Still burning. Smoke visible from here.

    June is fire season in Arizona, after long period of no rain, dry air, and high temps common to this time of year. Another crew died in similar circumstances about the same distance from Phoenix, around 20 years ago. The entire town of Prescott is in shock.

  82. 82
    Thymezone says:


    Minimum temps here are a product of heat island effect, which has increased steadily with size of the metro populated area. Actual max temps here have not changed much since I was 5 which was … some decades ago. We had 117 degree days when I was in the first grade. The drought was worse then and the summer storms were worse owing to more desert and nothing to cover the sand in the desert, compared to now. I have never seen dust storms like the ones we had when I was a kid. Only now, cable tv can show them in High Def and tv heads love to talk about them. Long hot summers are the rule here and probably have been for thousands of years. As for hell on earth, nah. Hell on earth is a blizzard where the snow is so hard and blowing so fast that it feels like somebody is shooting BBs out of a fire hose in your face, and snowdrifts covering the doors of the house. Hot is just hot. Either one can kill you in a cruel and painful manner.

  83. 83
    Elias says:

    And for the BJers who realize that DIAF is terrible and hoped it was fast, let me just say that it was the opposite of fast. These guys burned to death in fire shelters, their last resort protective gear.

    Fire shelters are a fairly simple piece of technology. You use the same concept every time you bake a potato in foil. The foil slows the cooking and provides a nice even heat distribution. A fire shelter works the same way. As long as the fire doesn’t get so hot that your shelter delaminates and it passes soon enough that you don’t go the way of a baked potato, you live. That usually works in your favor and you end up only half-baked. But to burn to death in a shelter is a long and painful process.

    These guys went in an awful way. Slow-cooked in a foil wrap.

  84. 84
    Thymezone says:

    @Jon H:

    Uh, what?? These crews are well trained, well equipped. The sky is abuzz with airplanes dropping water and slurry. No, this is a mother nature deal, not a funding deal. Shit happens out there in these canyons and hills this time of year. The wind can swing around 180 degrees and increase by 40 mph in about five mins. It’s just a damned dangerous job that nobody is his right mind would do, but these guys strap it on and do it anyway, luckily for us. The West is covered with brush and forests that endure long dry periods and radical weather changes in the summer, and all of it is ready to go up in flames at the slightest provocation, and some of it does, every June.

  85. 85
    Thymezone says:


    Retardant drops cannot control wildfires. You could have a conga line of planes 100 miles long and it wouldn’t be enough.

  86. 86
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    This is a pretty good example of how nature (in this case, in the form of a fire) treats human beings like so many ants.

    One of the problems here is that most people do not get the scales involved right. These fires are huge, compared to the puny hew-mons trying to thwart them. It’s amazing they can be fought with any hope of success at all.

    My unit was deployed from Fort Lewis to Eastern Oregon to assist with fire fighting in the summer of ’89, the year after the great fires at Yellowstone. An entire battalion…700 or so men…were tossed into the line. No casualties to speak of, but these were young men in prime physical shape and the experience kicked a lot of asses. Very hard, very dangerous work.

  87. 87
    Botsplainer says:

    Here’s something sweet. My puppy!


  88. 88
    burnspbesq says:


    I figure that climate change-fueled wildfires will keep getting worse and stuff like this will keep happening until some mid-sized city gets burned and then suddenly people will notice.

    Do we get to pick which city is sacrificed to the Climate Change Gods? If yes, I vote for Wingnut Ground Zero, aka Colorado Springs.

  89. 89
    Bob h says:

    My grandparents had a Summer home in Yarnell. It was an authentic Wild West town, but not much is likely to be left.

  90. 90
    jon says:


    Were these actual First Responders? Do they have unions that can organize political photo ops? Do they have commemorative coins and special recognition days at baseball games? Will there be a People magazine profile? No.

    Hell, these people don’t often have proper jobs. They’re just lowly contractors, the most disposable lowest of the low in the career ladder that creates a permanent underclass for this country to say Freedom! and Opportunity!

    The money’s not bad, but the benefits? You have got to be kidding! What are you, a Socialist?!

  91. 91
    Collin says:

    A tragedy. Sadly preventable. The firefighters go where they are told to go. This was an administrative decision to put them in harms way, a workplace accident where the risks can be forseen. Fire behavior is now a precise science and things like the rate of spread can be calculated with great accuracy. The hot shot crew is naturally aggressive and will do the best they can to stay safe in the fire environment they are assigned to. The fire shelters do not save lives under these circumstances and their use has been criticized for creating a false sense of security. Firefighters are, for the most part protecting property (covered by insurance) and wildlands. There is never a case to be made for risking their lives.

  92. 92
    jon says:

    @Collin: Precise science? In a lab, maybe. I’m sure that team’s meteorologist used its satellite and Doppler radar data to see the latest conditions, went to the IT guy who put the data through all the available programs to see the outcomes, then they probably got lost because of Google Maps not showing the hiking trail they carved twenty minutes ago.

    And when your neighbor’s house is on fire, be sure to tell any firefighters in the area not to bother if your home catches. It’s insured.

  93. 93
    Cassidy says:

    @Collin: That’s not accurate. The “administrators” don’t put hotshot crews into more dangerous areas without the Crew Boss giving a yes or no. And there is no precise science to fire behavior. You plan on the current terrain and the forecasted weather, but the latter can change instantly. All it takes is one good wind and a channel and everything changes.

    An argument could be made that they’re unecessarily risking their lives for property built by people who have no business living there. I don’t know the ins and outs of that, but it could be debated. Regardless, the firefighters in charge are going to create a plan based on saving lives and preserving property. That’s what they did. This is a tragedy, but these things happen in wildland firefighting. It’s an unpredictable, unforgiving environment.

  94. 94
    Morley Bolero says:

    The Mann Gulch fire of 1949 commemorated: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....ture=share

  95. 95
    kindness says:

    Yes John that was terrible news. It could be worse though. We could live in Texas. Thank the FSM for our buttery salvation.

  96. 96
    scav says:

    @Collin: A pecise science so very much dependent on minute to minute on the nail weather conditions as very-local scales? Everybody else enjoying those weather prediction in planning our lives? No need to look out the window anymore to check which direction and speed the wind is blowing around the northwest couner of the house!

  97. 97
    red dog says:

    IMO all fire control should be to protect homes only. They should use all crews for this and not up in the mountains. Let the forest burn as nature intended as both a future fire protection and natural regrowth can occur. That might prevent tragedies like this.

  98. 98
    Mnemosyne says:


    I was trying to remember where it was that my parents spent a couple of summers in the mountains north of Phoenix, but it was Payson, not Prescott.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:


    Fire behavior is now a precise science and things like the rate of spread can be calculated with great accuracy.

    Sorry, but I too must pile on and call bullshit on this. The rate of spread may be able to be predicted pretty accurately, but not the direction. A forest or brush fire can turn on a dime depending on what new fuel it finds or what landscape feature is obscured by brush or trees, which is what makes them so dangerous to fight.

  100. 100
    JR in WV says:

    My cousin was in a Hot Shot team not too long ago, so glad she is just Mom at home right now. She dropped from Hot Shot team to regular fire fighter out of Farmington NM after melting her boot soles in a sprint up to the top of a ridge.

    I was a trained firefighter in the Navy years ago, when your ship is on fire that concentrates your mind.

    We just finished building a little vacation home in the mountains of SE Arizona, when the fire department delivered potable water not long ago, the battalion chief said I did a good job of making it fire resistant, which felt good – thick stucco exterior, metal roof, soffit, fascia. There’s a long way from fire resistant to fire-proof.

    Last winter I drove into a wall of dust so thick you couldn’t see the hood of the truck. Fortunately it was only a sheet of dust, and we drove out of it in – i dunno, 20 seconds, coasting with me motionless behind the wheel. At least it was a flat place and a straight road.

    Dam it’s hard to type when you are all teary about unnecessary death……
    So sorry to hear about this…

  101. 101
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    I’m not yet sure how this is Obamas fault,

    Well, lemme fill you in.
    1. He’s been cutting the Forest Service budget every year he’s been in office. For fires, for wildlife conservation, for security, for EVERYTHING.

    2. He’s not in DC with his fist up the ass of every single Congressperson and Senator who is stalling the resolution of “The Sequester” so even the cut funding can be restored, and we’re dumping the work on local fire departments to take up the slack while sending our Federal firefighters into hell’s infernos after taking cuts of at least 500 their force.

    3. I’m willing to bet the cuts don’t stop at people–you need a lot of expensive equipment to do that work.

    I voted for the guy, but lately, pretty much once a week I’d like to kick him in the God-damned balls and yell “Do something about this shit, motherfucker!!!!!”

  102. 102
    BretH says:

    I can’t remember where I read it (wikipedia?), but there was an infamous fire that turned quickly on a group of forest fire fighters back in the 30s, 40s, 50s (?) that lead to a greater understanding of how brush fires can get out of control. There was like one guy who survived. I wish I could remember the name of the fire, or the link

    Heartbreaking, beautiful song:


  103. 103
    jon says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: Obama cut the Forest Service budget every year? When did he become Congress and start allocating funds?

    He isn’t trying to undo the Sequester? Okay, when does he have the power to undo a deal he made with those morons in Congress who decided that those cuts would happen? Is he a President or a dictator? The liberals who watch Fox News get as messed-up a view of the world as the conservatives do.

    And yes, Obama cut those equipment budgets personally, too. In a line-item veto exercise under the super secret NSA-reacharound provisionary exercise clause signings that were held in the secret FEMA camp where all the people who weren’t on the 9/11 flights are still held against their will. Glenn Greenwald would have said so if he wasn’t part of the outside part of The Counter-Conspiracy.

  104. 104
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    Another person who failed high school Civics heard from.

  105. 105
    steve says:


    “I’ll be at CPAC from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12. I’ll send back reports to you from personal meetings with Ron Paul, newly-elected Senator Rand Paul and many others. It’ll be here on WhiteNewsNow, a place that is really starting to get interesting because of the presence of folks like you. Birds of a feather flock together, and we are really gathering some quality here.”

    Stick a fork in Rand w/r/t presidential ambitions.

  106. 106
    BretH says:

    @Morley Bolero

    Searched for “Cold Missouri Water” but missed your link.

  107. 107
  108. 108
    sherparick says:

    @dmbeaster: Just a bunch of Government employees doing their jobs. My condolences and sympathies to their families, and their inconsolable grief.

  109. 109
    Tripod says:

    @red dog:

    Pols don’t want to hear “WHY doesn’t SOMEBODY do SOMETHING?!?” from their constituents.

    Aggressive fire fighting techniques (aka no burn in the context of wilderness fires) is bad fire science, bad ecology and costs substantially more money. It also gets more firefighters dead. But somebody is doing something.

  110. 110
    jon says:

    @red dog: Many fires are allowed to burn. Most crews protect roads and structures rather than trees. That’s already the way it’s done. Contained and controlled, watched rather than stifled at all costs.

    For too many years, every fire was put out. That led to forests that became unsustainable and unhealthy. Not enough clearings for new trees, not enough diversity, and so forth. And the brush collected and piled up. So then the fires became too big and reached the treetops and destroyed everything in such a way as to be unnatural.

    We’ve messed up nature, even the parts we consider natural aren’t entirely designed-by-nature. But to say we are trying to put out all the fires just to save trees is just not an accurate description of how things are done. These guys may have saved half a town before dying. The other half is gone now. Too expensive? Yeah. But not as expensive as rebuilding both halves of a town. If you want to make it cynical, math is able to be used by both sides of an argument.

  111. 111
    LanceThruster says:

    That takes some tremendous courage to put yourself in such proximity to a force as destructive and powerful as a massive wildfire. My heart goes out to all affected by this tragedy.

  112. 112
    Ella in New Mexico says:


    Hey guys, Obama has a budget request he presents every year!!!

    He hires peoples–lots of them–to come up with a plan that meets his goals–fiscal AND political! That involves telling departments like the Forest Service that they have to find ways to cut their budgets to meed his goals!!!

    Then, by golly, he signs the thing and timidly presents it to a Congress in hopes he has pleased them enough with his sacrifices.

    And as for the sequester, he has pretty much just given up trying to force a repeal or a compromise, and is instead just letting the thing wreak havoc on Federal programs nationwide. Oh, except for the FAA–wouldn’t want to inconvenience all those travelers flying in and out of the DC beltway.

    My husband is a DOD technician who already is paid less than the contractor counterparts he sees every day at work. He is now to lose two entire workdays a pay period just so this stalemate in Washington can continue to stand, and Obama is one side of the problem. I’ve written letters to my Congressman and Senators and the big O himself, for what it’s worth. I’m just hoping we can pay our fucking electric bill.

    We are in our 50’s, trying to pay for our kids college, pay our own student loans, and save for retirement. We voted for Obama and are lifetime Democrats. It kills me to realize that Obama has been such a limp dick on occasion during his Presidency, but it totally has gotten worse since this fall.

    And for the record, two of my kids have worked in conservation for the Forest Service, and have friends who are summer Forest Service firefighters so we know what has happened to their budgets on a personal basis.

    Also I majored in Poli Sci and my husband minored in History. So, F-you and your civics lesson crap, punk.

  113. 113
    Anna in PDX says:

    @Charles: The forest service has known this for 20 years and does controlled burns. My son just got done with the Job Corps firefighting training program and the forest service trainers really hammered this into his head. Unfortunately with budget cuts that means less controlled burns, leading to more wildfires, too.

  114. 114
    Anna in PDX says:

    I am not just blaming Obama but I do not understand why the USFS has to take these cuts when they have so much more fire work to do not to mention other undoable jobs such as policing the national forests from narcotraffickers. it seems this would be a bipartisan hard to argue with example of a govt agency that really does not need to get cut. The insurance people who insure nearby homes, the property owners who live near national forests, lots of people should be for the USFS being fully funded to do its fing job. I just don’t get national politics these days where any easy win win is somehow ignored/avoided.

  115. 115
    Collin says:

    @Mnemosyne: I agree completely with your comment but my point was that, as an organization, wildland firefighting administrators in the US are far too aggressive in placing humans in these risky situations. Far better to stand off, evacuate civilians and wait for a safe interlude to attack the rear and the flanks of the fire. It’s looks bad to stand by and watch people’s houses burn but it’s not worth anyone’s life to use direct attack in these extreme conditions.

  116. 116
    jon says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: Your degree was useless if you didn’t actually learn anything. Credentials only make things less understandable. Obama wants to trim budgets, but did you see the GOP proposals? And you blame him? Seriously?

    Obama may not have the right tone, but you and your husband would be without pensions and have to compete for those contractor jobs if the Republicans had their way. Would you trade the pension for higher but at-will pay?

    The Democrats may not have the right inflection in their voices, but they’re not actively working against you. Get a better House and things can be helped, but if you seriously think the President’s budget proposal meant a thing to the Speaker, your alma mater should be ashamed of your naivete.

  117. 117
    jon says:

    And “punk”? I’m honored.

  118. 118
    jon says:

    @Anna in PDX: And the military still needs money, the roads still need repair, bridges are rotting, diseases are still popping up, old people are still getting old, trade and diplomacy is still needed, and your point was what again? And which branch of government spends money?

  119. 119

    Someone very close to me is a firefighter here in AZ and the entire community is stunned. It will be dark and sad around my house this week. We are having the worst confluence of events. Extremely hot record setting temps, low humidity and wind. Too bad that wind isn’t blowing in any rain clouds (sans lightening, of course). Folks in the Arctic may be enjoying the warmer weather from Climate Change, but we are definitely not.

  120. 120
    Elias says:

    Collin: I don’t think that ‘hot shot crews are too aggressive’ is the problem here. They are aggressive, but commanders these days usually aren’t. Not the feds at least. There was a big cultural shift after the South Canyon Fire.

    It’s risky to not be aggressive too. If you lose a fire because you weren’t aggressive enough, it gets a lot bigger and lasts a lot longer. More firefighters get exposed to the risks of being on the line for much more time. Not good.

    There’s a point of stupid aggression though. A couple years ago I was IA on a small fire at the bottom of a canyon that has a long history of difficult fires. We were assigned a downhill attack along the flank and were pretty much climbing down the slope to advance the hose. Good fire activity below us. A few sticks in our officer decided to refuse the assignment. He ended up in a shouting match with a chief as we were pulling out. Probably hurt his career prospects a bit. But he was right. That flank kicked about the time we made it back to our ride and we probably would’ve been burned over if we hadn’t bailed on the attack when we did. We would’ve lost the engine for sure.

    But this tragedy today reminds me of the South Canyon Fire. Pretty modest and unassuming fire until a storm cell went overhead and the winds caused the fire to blow out. Weather forecasters expected this but the information didn’t get relayed to the boots on the ground so they were in bad places when it went nuclear in that canyon.

  121. 121
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ella in New Mexico:

    Hey guys, Obama has a budget request he presents every year!!!

    All budgets have to originate with the House of Representatives, per the Constitution. The president can put in his request, but the House is does not have to implement a single line of it.

    But, hey, if it makes you feel better to blame Obama than the guy who’s actually in charge, John Boehner, go right ahead, as long as you realize it’s kind of like yelling at your kid’s bus driver because your kid got a “D” in math.

  122. 122
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Anna in PDX:

    it seems this would be a bipartisan hard to argue with example of a govt agency that really does not need to get cut. The insurance people who insure nearby homes, the property owners who live near national forests, lots of people should be for the USFS being fully funded to do its fing job. I just don’t get national politics these days where any easy win win is somehow ignored/avoided.

    That’s the problem, though — as far as the Republicans are concerned, a “win/win” is actually a loss for them. They would rather have both sides lose than let Obama have a victory alongside them.

    Think of them as a three-year-old with a toy who would rather break the toy beyond repair than let another kid play with it and you’ve got the right idea about the modern Republican party. And, in large part, it’s because they know that people will blame the Democrats for not fixing things, not the Republicans for breaking them.

  123. 123
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    @<a @jon: @Mnemosyne:
    nothing either of you posted actually addresses my point: Obama has not used his discretionary powers to change how the Sequestration hits departments, nor the power of his office to beat the Tea Party over their heads and publicly shame them on a daily basisfor the damage it’s doing. Why do you think there’s an editorial today in the Washington Post claiming the Sequester has had no real effects? Cuz the frigging President has been silent, that’s why.

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