Yarnell Hill Fire: Burns, breathing issues killed 19 firefighters
(Source: CBS 5 News)
YARNELL, AZ (CBS5) -
The Maricopa County medical examiner has released the initial results of the 19 fallen firefighters' autopsies, showing all of the men died from burns and inhalation problems.
The medical examiner's office in Phoenix issued the finding Thursday, two days after performing the autopsies.
The firefighters were deployed Sunday to what was thought to be a manageable lighting-caused forest fire near the small town of Yarnell, but violent winds turned the fire. The blaze killed the Prescott Granite Mountain Hotshot team.
An investigation is underway to find out what went wrong.
Federal investigators are back out on the mountain Thursday, searching the scene for more evidence.
They're trying to determine if there were any equipment failures, whether any decisions were made that ended up putting the firefighters at greater risk or if Mother Nature was just so unpredictable that nothing could have saved them.
"They were in a safety zone. (We) can't say for sure whether it was in the safety zone they had selected," Fire investigator Mike Dudley said.
"We look at the decisions made. We look at fuels ... the weather," Fire investigator Jim Carle said during a news conference Wednesday.
Fire officials said the goal of the investigation is to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
Stay with cbs5az.com for updates on the investigation.
Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.