Sunday, July 07, 2013

Detailed NY Times article on the Yarnell tragedy never mentions climate change, but does mention "serious technical challenges" with communications

A Painful Mix of Fire, Wind and Questions -
...a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff spotted trouble on the radar: thunderstorms and dangerous winds heading toward the firefighters. He picked up the phone and alerted the fire’s dispatch center. Officials at the center transmit information by radio to the firefighters. The meteorologist called the center again at 3:30 p.m., repeating his warning.

It is unclear at this point whether the firefighters ever received those messages.
...As the Hotshots carried their chain saws to Doce’s western edge, dispatchers faced serious technical challenges. Telephone calls were being disconnected or were not going through. A computerized system that helps the dispatchers track crews was “giving all kinds of error messages,” a frustrated dispatcher said in a report logged on June 18 by the National Interagency Fire Center, a multiagency logistical support center.

“The problem is never taken seriously and never completely resolved for the long term,” the dispatcher wrote. “This has been an ongoing problem and happens EVERY time we have an incident. It is unacceptable! We need to remain at a high operational level 365 days out of the year.” The area around the Yarnell Hill fire had not burned in about 40 years.

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