Feds blocked key interviews in state inquiry

From Arizona Republic: Federal officials blocked state investigators from interviewing members of a second hotshot crew that fought the Yarnell Hill Fire because they feared some of their statements might become publicly disclosed under Arizona’s Public Records Law, according to correspondence released Thursday.

Workplace-safety investigators for the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health released a comprehensive report on the Yarnell Hill Fire on Wednesday that included detailed information about the decisions and factors that contributed to the June 30 deaths of 19 firefighters near Yarnell.

Notably absent from the report was input from the surviving Blue Ridge Hotshots, a crew that operates under the supervision of the Coconino National Forest.

A letter from the U.S Department of Agriculture, which oversees the U.S. Forest Service and employs hotshot crews around the country, explained that state investigators would not be allowed to interview the Blue Ridge Hotshots because of concerns about public scrutiny.

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