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Arizona Wildfire: Hotshot's Call For Help
A crew of 19 firefighters killed in a catastrophic Arizona wildfire can be heard desperately radioing in for help before their deaths in newly released recordings.
A helmet cam on one fireman picked up the audio as well as footage which showed the blaze bearing down on the Granite Mountain Hotshots team as they faced a 100ft wall of flames.
"Breaking in on Arizona 16, Granite Mountain Hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front," one member said as they realised they were in trouble in Yarnell Hill last summer.
The recordings were released after an investigation revealed commanders made numerous mistakes managing the wildfire that also destroyed more than 100 homes.
Moments before the hotshots deployed their fire shelters, they called for water-dropping aircraft: "Air Attack, Granite Mountain 7!"
The response was: "Okay ... unit that's hollerin' in the radio, I need you to quit, and ... break, Operations Bravo 33."
But fire commanders did not even know where the hotshots were.
"So you're on the south side of the fire then? We've got several aircraft coming to you. We'll see if we can't take care of business for you."
Deborah Pfingston, the mother of firefighter Andrew Ashcraft, who died, said: "It shows confusion and that's heart-breaking."
The last dispatch from the Hotshots came from the group's leader Eric Marsh.
He said: "Yeah, I'm here with Granite Mountain Hotshots, our escape route has been cut off.
"We are preparing a deployment site and we are burned out around ourselves in the brush and I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters."
At 4.38pm that day - June 30 - there was a call from dispatch.
"Division Alpha, Bravo 33. Do you hear a helicopter?" But there was no reply.
"Little by little the truth is coming out," said Mr Ashcraft's wife Juliann.
However, to Ms Pfingston the recordings also provide some comfort.
"These guys were working to save each other to the very last moment, and that is commendable," she said.
Only one of the elite crew, 21-year-old Brendan McDonough, survived the blaze.
He was on a hilltop as a lookout and warned his crew the weather was changing rapidly.
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