Investigation Begins Into Deaths Of 19 Firefighters
July 02, 2013
Laurel Morales
19 shovels were placed at the makeshift memorial for the 19 firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — Federal firefighting agencies moved into Prescott, Ariz. on Monday night and began battling the 8,500 acre Yarnell Hill Fire.

Officials also launched a federal investigation into exactly what led to the deaths of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew firefighters on Sunday.

Officials said the team will begin its investigation on Wednesday. They said investigators will look at all communications and logs from the events leading up to the tragedy. They did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, winds gusted across the yellowing grasses on both sides of the highway leading into Yarnell.

Slightly higher humidity in the morning was helping the firefighters, said fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner.

"Now we’re in extreme drought condition so our fuels out there are very, very dry," Turner said. "Of course the dry fuels are dry but also the live fuels are extremely dry. They are no longer a barrier to the fire spread."

Jim Wallman is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said the 15 mile-per-hour winds Tuesday were a concern.

“Outside of that it’s still remaining hot and dry. Humidity getting down to the teens. Temperatures in the 90s every day. Not seeing a whole lot of change really into the weekend," Wallman said.

The Prescott Fire Department, which sent the hotshot crew out Sunday, did not have a meteorologist working locally, officials said. But they said the team had received accurate information from nearby Flagstaff.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been modified to reflect the proper spelling of Jim Wallman's name.