Florida Forester Leads Arizona Fire Investigation

Florida Forester Leads Arizona Fire Investigation

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Days after a violent Arizona fire took the lives of 19 firefighters, questions of what went wrong linger in the minds of Americans across the country. A Florida firefighter will lead the investigation into answering that question.

Jim Karels, the Florida State Forester, was named as the lead investigator charged with reviewing the Yarnell Hill fire in Arizona. Karels has been state forester since 2008,and is part of a national team that was announced by the Arizona State Forestry Division.

"As part of the investigation, the team will review Sunday's weather conditions, fire department records, radio logs and any other evidence that may help determine how to prevent a similar tragedy in the future,'' Arizona state forester Scott Hunt said in the statement.

Safety standards for wild land firefighters were toughened nearly 20 years ago when 14 firefighters died on Colorado's Storm King Mountain. Investigators made the changes after they found a number of errors in the way the fire was fought. Those changes included policies that say no firefighters should be deployed unless they have a safe place to retreat. They must also be continuously informed of changing weather and post lookouts.

Karels will be accompanied by Mike Dudley, Acting Director of Cooperative Forestry of the U.S. Forest Service as the secondary team lead in the investigation.

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