State forestry officials hear backlash from director's Yarnell - Tucson News Now

State forestry officials hear backlash from director's Yarnell comment

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

One month after the deaths of 19 firefighters at the Yarnell Hill Fire outside Prescott, state forestry officials are downplaying comments made by one of their own about what led to the tragedy.

Nineteen members of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshots died June 30 when erratic winds sent flames racing across their position.

The deputy director of the State Forestry Division today told Phoenix media that the hotshot leader may not have followed some standard firefighting guidelines, but that such deviations can happen in special circumstances, calling it a "calculated risk."

A statement released around 4:45 p.m. by the Forestry Division says Payne's comments are  "personal unauthorized opinions" and "an inappropriate expression of opinion as fact and unfounded speculation that prejudges the ultimate conclusion of the investigation."

An official report on the incident is expected out later this year .

The Yarnell Hill Fire eventually destroyed more than 100 homes before it was contained.

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