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Safe Practices Under Blow-up Conditions — a Training Outline for the Fire Crew Boss — Fire Control Notes, 1958
Basics of Fire Suppression — Lynn Biddison, 1982
Thirtymile Criminal Complaint, 2006
Material False Statements
In order to convict Mr. Daniels of making a false statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001, the United States would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following elements:
First, Mr. Daniels made a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of an agency (Forest Service, USDA, or OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor) of the executive branch of the United States;
Second, Mr. Daniels acted intentionally, that is deliberately and with knowledge that the statement was untrue; and
Third, the statement was material to an activity or a decision of the agency of the United States because the statement could have influenced the activity or the decision.
9th Cir. Crim. Jury Instr. 8.66 (2003).
A. Fire Engines Did Check In With IC Daniels Upon Arriving at the Fire
Count Eight alleges that, on August 9, 2001, during a taped interview with a representative of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in response to a question as to whether Mr. Daniels knew that two fire engines had arrived at the fire, Mr. Daniels stated that neither of the two fire engines, which were designated as Engine 701 and Engine 704, stopped to talk to Mr. Daniels or to the Crew Boss Trainee for the Northwest Regular #6 firefighting crew when they arrived at the Thirtymile Fire on the afternoon of July 10, 2001; that the engines were "doing their own thing;" and that neither of the engines ever contacted Mr. Daniels or the Crew Boss Trainee. Pete Kampen was the Crew Boss Trainee.
On March 14, 2002, the Forest Service Administrative Review Team, which was examining the conduct of Forest Service employees who worked on the Thirtymile Fire, interviewed Mr. Daniels. The substance of the interview was reduced to a typed declaration, which Mr. Daniels signed on March 28, 2002. The declaration states that Mr. Daniels is making the "following statement freely and voluntarily knowing that this statement may be used in evidence." The declaration further provides that Mr. Daniels understands that "this statement is not confidential and may be shown to any interested party on a need to know basis for purposes of making administrative decisions to the extent allowed by law." Count Nine alleges that Mr. Daniels stated to the Administrative Review Team that neither of the two fire engines, which were designated as Engine 701 and Engine 704, checked in with Mr. Daniels when they arrived at the Thirtymile Fire on the afternoon of July 10, 2001.
In his typed declaration, Mr. Daniels stated that he himself had served as an engine foreman for about four years. Mr. Daniels' declaration further read: "I was asked if as the IC [Incident Commander] I would expect the engines to check in with me. As IC I would expect the engines to check in. As long as I am assigned to that piece of ground then the engines should check in with me. . . . . The engines did not check in with me." The Administrative Review Team asked Mr. Daniels if he knew the engines' mission. Mr. Daniels' declaration read: "The only thing I knew they were for was to replace two crews." The Dispatch Log reflects that Mr. Daniels requested two additional crews as reinforcements at about 12:30 p.m. He repeated the request for two more crews at 1:43 p.m.
The Forest Service proposed to take disciplinary action against Harry Dunn, the foreman of the larger of the two fire engines, Engine 701, on the ground that he proceeded up the Chewuch Canyon and engaged the fire without checking in with Incident Commander Ellreese Daniels. The smaller engine, Engine 704, was operating under the direction of Mr. Dunn. Mr. Daniels' assertions that the engines did not check in with him was material to both the Forest Service and OSHA because the engines moving up canyon beyond the lunch spot and engaging the fire was the first step in the chain of events that resulted in the entrapment of two squads of the NWR #6. Engine 701 went up the canyon, encountered a spot fire, sprayed the spot fire, and then requested Mr. Daniels to bring firefighters up to the spot to dig a line around the spot. The firefighters were unable to retreat down their escape route before the fire burned across the road and entrapped them.
I interviewed Harry Dunn. He has worked for the Forest Service since 1974. Mr. Dunn had experience on two Hotshot crews and as an engine crewman, before becoming an Engine Crew Foreman in 1994. Mr. Dunn explained that Okanogan National Forest Dispatcher Ed Hutton dispatched Mr. Dunn's engine and Engine 704 to the Thirtymile Fire. Mr. Hutton advised Mr. Dunn that Ellreese Daniels was the Incident Commander and that his instructions were to patrol the Chewuch River Road and keep the fire from crossing the road to the west side.
The Dispatch Log refers to getting a couple of engines at 2:27 p.m. At 2:31 p.m., the Dispatch Log reflects that Engine 701 estimated that it would arrive at the Thirtymile Fire in about 45 minutes. According to the Dispatch Log, Engine 701 arrived at the fire at 3:24 p.m. and Engine 704 arrived at 3:27 p.m.
Mr. Dunn told me that he stopped at the lunch spot where the Incident Commander, Mr. Daniels, and his crew were eating and resting. Mr. Dunn got out of his engine seat, stood on the running board, leaned across and spoke to Mr. Daniels, who was inside his vehicle, with the door open, eating lunch. Mr. Dunn estimated that he was about 20 feet away from Mr. Daniels, looking directly at him, and told him that Engines 704 and 701 had been sent up to patrol the road and extinguish spot fires, to keep the main fire from crossing to the west side of the road. According to Mr. Dunn, Mr. Daniels nodded, as an acknowledgment that he understood Mr. Dunn's mission and approved.
Mr. Dunn explained to me that he talked with Mr. Daniels after the fire, and that Mr. Daniels said that he remembered tying in (having verbal/visual contact) with Mr. Dunn at the lunch spot as the engine crews were heading up canyon to patrol the road and to work on spot fires. Mr. Dunn asked Mr. Daniels to write a memo acknowledging the contact, but Mr. Daniels never did. According to Mr. Dunn, he would have used this memo in the Administrative Investigation in which he was cited for failing to brief with the Incident Commander upon arrival at the fire.
I recently spoke with Ken Snell, who was a member of the Oral Reply Team and who in 2002 was the Acting Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation in the Pacific Northwest Region. Mr. Snell explained that the Oral Reply Team consisted of three people who had not previously participated in the Forest Service's Administrative Review. Forest Service employees who were the subject of proposed disciplinary action had the opportunity to meet with the Oral Reply Team and explain their positions. Mr. Snell told me that the Oral Reply Team visited the Chewuch River Canyon and that Ellreese Daniels, Harry Dunn, Pete Kampen, and another person who was the subject of proposed discipline voluntarily accompanied them. Mr. Snell recalled that Harry Dunn, in front of Mr. Daniels, acted out the events upon the arrival of Engine 701 at the fire. Mr. Dunn's rendition of the events to the Oral Reply Team was the same as he told me during my interview. Mr. Snell stated that the team asked Mr. Daniels if Mr. Dunn's description of the events was accurate. Mr. Daniels acknowledged that Mr. Dunn's description was accurate. As a result, the Oral Reply Team recommended that the specification against Mr. Dunn that he failed to check in with the Incident Commander be dropped. The Forest Service did drop that specification.
I asked Mr. Snell why the Forest Service did not add a specification in the administrative disciplinary process against Mr. Daniels for lying about the engines failing to check in with him before they proceeded up the canyon. Mr. Snell responded that the revelation of the false statement came late in the administrative process and that it was not the role of the Oral Reply Team to propose additional specifications.
B. IC Daniels Did Not Direct Firefighters to Come Down Off the Rock Slope
Count Six alleges that Mr. Daniels, during an interview with a member of the Forest Service Safety & Accident Investigation Team, on July 12, 2001, in response to a question about what communication took place between Mr. Daniels and a small group of firefighters who were on a scree slope above a road at the site where the entrapped members of the NWR #6 firefighting crew eventually deployed their fire shelters, Mr. Daniels stated that he told the group at least three times to come down out of the rocks because that is not the place to be. Count Seven alleges that during that same interview, in response to a question about whether Mr. Daniels had any idea why the small group of firefighters did not do as he asked to come down out of the rocks, Mr. Daniels stated that he did not have any idea and that he wished that he could have made them listen. Tony Kern, a technical specialist with the National Interagency Fire Center, conducted this interview. The substance of the interview was shared with OSHA, which participated in some of the interviews with the Forest Service Safety & Accident Investigation Team to include a much more extensive, videotaped interview with Mr. Daniels that same day.
On March 14, 2002, the Forest Service Administrative Review Team, which was examining the conduct of Forest Service employees who worked on the Thirtymile Fire, interviewed Mr. Daniels. The substance of the interview was reduced to a typed declaration, which Mr. Daniels signed on March 28, 2002.
Count Ten alleges that Mr. Daniels, while describing the events from the time that a portion of the Northwest Regular #6 firefighting crew re-engaged the wildfire through the deployment of fire shelters by the entrapped crew members, stated to the Administrative Review Team that he told Tom Craven and the other firefighters who were with Tom Craven in a loud voice to come down from the scree slope to the road, but that the firefighters did not come down from the scree slope.
I interviewed Tom Taylor, who was the Squad Boss for Squad #2. He told me that after Squad #1 and Squad #2 dismounted from the van at the location where the entrapped crew eventually deployed their fire shelters, he suggested to Mr. Daniels that they improve the site by using a saw to cut some trees and brush.
Mr. Daniels indicated that cutting trees and brush would not be necessary. Mr. Taylor then went up the scree slope by himself to obtain a better view of what the fire was doing. As a Squad Boss, Mr. Taylor had a radio. Likewise, as a Squad Boss, Tom Craven had a radio. Mr. Taylor advised me that Mr. Daniels did not direct him to return to the road. Moreover, Mr. Taylor did not hear Mr. Daniels direct, either over the radio or without the radio, Tom Craven and the firefighters who were with Mr. Craven to come down from the scree slope. Mr. Taylor was some distance above Mr. Craven and the other firefighters on the scree slope.
I interviewed firefighter Jason W. Emhoff. Mr. Emhoff had a radio because he was qualified to serve as a Squad Boss. According to Mr. Emhoff, Mr. Daniels did nothing to keep crew members together at the deployment site. When they arrived at the deployment site, there was no briefing. Mr. Emhoff reported that people dispersed and Mr. Daniels got on the radio with Air Attack Coordinator Gabe Jasso and Entiat Hotshot Superintendent Marshall Brown. Mr. Emhoff recalled that Mr. Daniels had, at some point, said the road or the river would be the best place to be. Mr. Emhoff reported that he never heard Mr. Daniels tell anyone to come down off the scree slope nor did he hear Mr. Daniels give any such orders on the radio. Mr. Emhoff explained that he would have heard any such directive because he and his four fellow crew members were only about 15 feet away from Mr. Daniels. They were sitting on some large rocks about 15 - 20 feet above the road, at the base of the scree slope. The other crew members on the rocks with him were Tom Craven, the Squad #I Squad Boss, Karen Fitzpatrick, Jessica Johnson, and Devin Weaver, all of whom were killed in the fire. Mr. Emhoff estimated that Tom Taylor was about 40 feet above them.
According to Mr. Emhoff, the situation got worse in a hurry. Embers and heat came down all of a sudden, then a blast of intense heat. There were already spot fires starting on the scree slope on the west side of the road. Everyone on the rocks near the road started to get worried. They could see the smoke column lay down, accompanied by a loud blast, then the embers and heat. They went from being relatively comfortable to panic within about two minutes. They would have headed to the road to deploy but they got hit by a blast of heat, then started running back up the scree slope, trying to get above the heat. Soon they were overcome and had to deploy in the scree.
Mr. Emhoff related that after a few moments in his shelter, he decided he would not be able to withstand the heat and decided to make a run for the van parked on the road. He did not have his gloves and, while pausing behind a large rock to momentarily get a break from the direct heat, burned his hands on the rock. Then he ran down the slope, opened the van, and got inside, burning his hands even more on the red-hot door handles.
I interviewed former firefighter Rebecca Welch. She explained that upon parking the van at the location that became the deployment site, some crew members stayed on the road, some walked along the road to a rock area, and some went up the scree slope. Ms. Welch never heard Mr. Daniels give any instruction for everyone to stay together. According to Ms. Welch, Mr. Daniels was thinking aloud, considering options for possible deployment: maybe the sandbar; maybe the road; maybe the rocks. She did not recall hearing a decision or a conclusion.
She would have liked to have had some direction or instruction at this point. Ms. Welch initially walked up onto the scree slope and talked with Squad Boss Tom Craven and other crew members. She estimated that she remained on the scree 1 rocks for about 20 - 25 minutes. According to Ms. Welch, at first, everyone was thinking that the fire would go around them. As the fire intensity grew, Ms. Welch became more worried and scared. She was still on the rocks and could hear the fire, see it, and smell it. During her basic firefighter training, Ms. Welch heard that deployment on rocks would be acceptable if a good seal could be achieved.
She personally never thought that it would be a good idea to deploy in rocks because rocks would heat up. Ms. Welch decided that it would be safer on the road, next to the Incident Commander, so she came down from the rocks and rejoined Mr. Daniels on the road. Mr. Daniels was very calm, talking constantly on the radio to Air Attack.
Ms. Welch estimated that she had been on the road about five to six minutes before they finally deployed. She recalled that during this time, Mr. Daniels said to Tom Taylor, who was about 75 feet up the scree slope scouting the fire - something like: "Hey Tom….Probably should come down, you're a little too high" and / or "What are you doing up there….Maybe you should come down." Ms. Welch recalled that Mr. Daniels motioned Mr. Taylor to come down. Ms. Welch told me that Mr. Taylor may have then started moving slowly, but never came down to the road. She saw a spot fire high on the slope.
Ms. Welch was almost positive that Mr. Taylor was the only person whom Mr. Daniels told to come down. She remembered no instruction being given by Mr. Daniels to anyone else to come down off the rocks or to come back to the road. Ms. Welch explained that everyone but Mr. Taylor who was not on the road with Mr. Daniels was no more than 50 feet away from him and could have come down to him quickly. She expressed the opinion that had Tom Craven received an order to come down to the road, he would have responded.
During my interview with Mr. Rutman, he explained that upon getting out of the van at the location that became the deployment site, Mr. Daniels might have said something about the group staying together. Mr. Rutman recalled that Mr. Daniels made some comment later on about Squad Boss Tom Taylor being up on the scree slope, or he may have asked who that was up on the scree, but dropped the issue when he found out it was Tom Taylor. Mr. Rutman also stated that Mr. Daniels also might have made a comment about the people on the rock, just off the road, but he did not recall Mr. Daniels ever telling them to come down or giving any directions to not be on the rocks, other than a statement to the crew that "we should all be on the road."
I interviewed Beau J. Clark. He was assigned to Squad #1, with Tom Craven as the Squad Boss and with Rebecca Welch as one of the squad members. He never heard Mr. Daniels yell to anyone to come down off the rocks. According to Mr. Clark, no need to yell existed because those crew members on the rocks were basically with the rest of the group, since they were no more than 20 feet or so off the road. During the 45 minutes they were all entrapped prior to deployment, all the crew members were within talking distance, so Mr. Daniels would not have needed to yell to get anyone's attention. That is, up until things went black (when the fire activity suddenly became intense, moments before deployment).
Scott Scherzinger told me that he had no recollection of Mr. Daniels giving orders to anyone to come down off the slope during the time before deployment.
I interviewed former firefighter Armando M. Avila. At the Thirtymile Fire, Mr. Avila had a radio because he was a Squad Boss Trainee. He explained that Tom Craven's squad was about 10 feet off the road, on a large rock. Mr. Avila stated that he never heard Mr. Daniels tell them to come down off the rock or to come to the road. Mr. Daniels did, however, tell Mr. Avila at one point to come back to the road. Mr. Avila was on a boulder, just off the road, checking out the fire when Mr. Daniels made this statement, the gist of which was that they needed to stay together on the road. Mr. Avila went up onto the scree slope to see how it looked for a deployment site and did not like the looks of the area - too much debris in the rock and it looked like the flames could fan up slope. Mr. Taylor shouted for him to go back to the road during this time also. Mr. Avila never heard Mr. Daniels tell Tom Taylor to come down or come back to the road. According to Mr. Avila, Mr. Taylor had gone up the scree slope as a lookout, to scout the fire. Mr. Avila emphasized that the only person whom he heard Mr. Daniels instruct to come back to the road was himself.
Elaine A. Hurd recalled that Mr. Daniels was upset that people were scattered, but yet he gave no orders to anyone to get back with the group and stay together. According to Ms. Hurd, if he ever yelled anything to anyone, it would have been to Tom Taylor, who was up the scree slope checking out the fire behavior. She did not recall Mr. Daniels ever yelling to anyone to come down or ordering anyone down (off the scree slope). She recalled that he only said: "We all need to be together….we need to be right here." According to Ms. Hurd, however, Mr. Daniels never said this loudly enough for anyone away from him to hear this and never yelled this to anyone. He was just pacing, while also on the radio.
Mr. Daniels' false statements about directing Tom Craven and the firefighters who were with him to come down off the scree slope to the road was material to the Forest Service because the Forest Service listed the false statement to the Administrative Review Team as one of the specifications that could support disciplinary action against Mr. Daniels. Ken Snell, who was a member of the Oral Reply Team and who in 2002 was the Acting Deputy Director of Fire and Aviation in the Pacific Northwest Region, confirmed for me that the issue of Mr. Daniels directing Mr. Craven and the firefighters who were with Mr. Craven to return to the road was material to the Forest Service. He recalled that Mr. Daniels went through the events at the deployment site in detail with the Oral Reply Team. I also recently interviewed OSHA Compliance Officer Michael Bonkowski. He told me that the issue of Mr. Daniels directing Tom Craven and the firefighters who were with him to come down off the scree slope to the road likewise was material to OSHA's investigation. The consensus of experts is that all four deceased firefighters would have survived if they had deployed their fire shelters on the road near the other crew members.
C. IC Daniels Did Not Tell Firefighter Welch to Take Civilians Into Her Shelter
Count Five alleges that during an interview with a member of the Safety and Accident Investigation Team and an OSHA representative, on July 12, 2001, while describing the events following the entrapment of a portion of the NWR #6 firefighting crew and through the deployment of fire shelters by those crew members, Mr. Daniels stated that he told a female firefighter to get two civilians into her fire shelter and to keep them in her shelter. The female firefighter was Rebecca Welch, who was a rookie on her second fire. The two civilian campers were Paula and Bruce Hagemeyer.
On March 14, 2002, the Forest Service Administrative Review Team, which was examining the conduct of Forest Service employees who worked on the Thirtymile Fire, interviewed Mr. Daniels. The substance of the interview was reduced to a typed declaration, which Mr. Daniels signed on March 28, 2002. Count Eleven alleges that, while describing the events from the time that a portion of the Northwest Regular #6 firefighting crew re-engaged the wildfire through the deployment of fire shelters by the entrapped crew members, Mr. Daniels stated to the Administrative Review Team that he told a female firefighter to get a female civilian and a male civilian into her fire shelter and to keep them in her shelter.
During my interview with Ms. Welch, she explained that she did not talk to the civilians prior to deployment, and she did not see them talking to Mr. Daniels. According to Ms. Welch, the Hagameyers were "freaking out" while talking to the other crew members. When the embers started raining down on everyone, Ms. Welch asked: "What are we supposed to do?" She got no response from anyone. Ms. Welch was down on her knees at this point, facing uphill, struggling to get her shelter out of her pack. Mr. Daniels, who had already said to deploy, was behind her. Ms. Welch asked Mr. Daniels to help her get her fire shelter out, which he did and handed it to her. Unlike a few other crew members, Ms. Welch had no recollection of being told initially to take shelters out and use them as a shield over their heads and shoulders until the time to deploy inside them.
Ms. Welch recalled that the Hagemeyers were panicking, saying: "You gotta help us….No one's helping us!" She then took them into her shelter with her without really thinking about it. The Hagemeyers continued to panic inside her shelter, asking what they should do. Paula Hagemeyer said she could not breathe and tried to open the shelter. Ms. Welch told Mrs. Hagemeyer to stop talking and to hold the shelter tightly down over them. Ms. Welch sustained minor burns while deploying and while in the shelter. She pointed out the scars from these burns during the interview.
Ms. Welch was adamant that Mr. Daniels never instructed her to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter. That instruction would not have made sense to her. The shelter is intended for one person. If Mr. Daniels had instructed her to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter, Ms. Welch would have replied: "You take one and I'll take one." Mr. Daniels got her shelter out of her pack from behind her, handed her shelter to her, and that is all the help or instruction that she recalls that she received from Mr. Daniels. Sometime during all this unfolding event, she heard Mr. Daniels on the radio telling someone that they had deployed.
Ms. Welch explained that when it was safe, Mr. Daniels yelled for everyone to go to the river. She and the Hagemeyers went to the river. Ms. Welch gave her shelter to the Hagemeyers and she got under Matthew Rutman's shelter with him. There, submerged in the river about waist deep, they all held their shelters over their heads to protect themselves from embers and debris.
My interviews with several other members of NWR #6 corroborate Ms. Welch's statement that Mr. Daniels did not direct her to take Paula and Bruce Hagemeyer into her fire shelter. Beau J. Clark, a member of Squad #1, recalled that after becoming entrapped, but prior to deployment, Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer showed up. The Hagemeyers changed into long pants and shirts, which Mr. Clark thought were their own. Mr. Clark stated that neither IC Daniels nor either of the squad bosses ever directed anyone to take the Hagemeyers into their shelters. Mr. Clark told me that Scott Scherzinger initially covered Mrs. Hagemeyer with his fire shelter, using the shelter as an overhead shield. Mr. Clark said that he wiped embers off both of the Hagemeyers. Then later, Rebecca Welch took both Hagemeyers into her shelter with her. Mr. Clark, who had been talking with Scott Scherzinger, deployed his shelter next to Nick Dreis.
Scott Scherzinger told me that he did not know what Mr. Daniels might have said to the Hagemeyers prior to deployment (if anything). He recalled that the Hagemeyers did change out of their own clothes into long pants and shirts, that he believed were provided by the crew. Mr. Scherzinger stated that he knocked embers off of Mrs. Hagemeyer. He recalled that she was a little nervous. Mr. Scherzinger told me that he did not hear Mr. Daniels tell Rebecca Welch to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter, but he noted that the fire was getting louder. Mr. Scherzinger did state that he never heard of putting three people in one shelter and that he never received training on putting three people into a single shelter. He recalled that Mr. Daniels only told the crew members to get their shelters out and use the shelters to shield themselves.
Armando M. Avila was a Squad Boss Trainee assigned to Squad #2, with Tom Taylor as his Squad Boss. Mr. Avila told me that at one point he went up the scree slope to see how it looked for a deployment site. He did not like the looks of the area - too much debris in the rock and it looked like the flames could fan upslope. Squad Boss Tom Taylor, who was up on the slope, shouted for him to go back to the road. When Mr. Avila got back to the road, the Hagemeyers had arrived and were asking Mr. Daniels what they should do. Mr. Avila recalled that Mr. Daniels responded by telling them to keep calm and that it will be alright. He stated that someone got the Hagemeyers long pants to put on, possibly at Mr. Daniels' request.
Mr. Avila recalled that Mr. Daniels told those around him on the road to get their shelters out and cover their friends. Then it got hot and dark, and Mr. Daniels told them to get inside their shelters. According to Mr. Avila, Mr. Daniels never instructed Rebecca Welch to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter. Mr. Avila explained that he would have heard this because he was no more than ten feet away from Mr. Daniels during this time.
During my interview with Elaine A. Hurd, she said that she thought someone may have looked around for extra shelters for the Hagemeyers, but found none. Ms. Hurd stated that she never heard Mr. Daniels instruct Rebecca Welch to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter. She and everyone else were within about a 20-foot radius of each other.
During my interview with Matthew D. Rutman, he recalled the Hagemeyers arrived just prior to deployment. Mr. Rutman said that he had stopped writing in his journal by this time and was pretty tuned in to Mr. Daniels during the 20 minutes leading to the deployment. According to Mr. Rutman, Mr. Daniels had no interaction with the Hagemeyers other than to say the road was closed ahead due to fire across the road. Mr. Rutman never heard Mr. Daniels direct Rebecca Welch to take the Hagemeyers into her shelter. Mr. Rutman explained that he was close enough to Mr. Daniels to have heard this, and that he deployed his shelter near Mr. Daniels. According to Mr. Rutman, the only thing that Mr. Daniels said was to "cover your buddies" (with your shelter), which he thought was a weird command, as this procedure was not taught in any training. Nevertheless, Mr. Rutman covered himself and Mr. Daniels initially, before getting into the shelter.
Bruce and Paula Hagemeyer provided the Safety & Accident Investigation Team with written statements. I did not interview them because they have a civil lawsuit pending against the United States and their written statements were quite detailed.
In a statement dated July 18, 2001, Bruce Hagemeyer explained that when they first encountered the firefighters he and his wife spoke to Karen Fitzpatrick.
They then walked among the firefighters, speaking to Armando Avila. They asked him who was in charge. The conditions started to get "pretty intense." Paula Hagemeyer asked Mr. Daniels what they should do. Mr. Daniels replied: "Don't panic." Mr. Hagemeyer recalled that his wife commented to him that they were own their own and were not getting any help. They put on long pants and long sleeve jackets. Mr. Hagemeyer recalled that during the ember shower Scott Scherzinger and Beau Clark knocked embers off them. He then saw Mr. Daniels with a square package in his hand and give it to Rebecca Welch. Mr. Hagemeyer initially thought that Mr. Daniels was distributing shelters, but he was just helping Ms. Welch get her shelter out. Describing their feelings as frustration and helplessness, Mr. Hagemeyer recalled that his wife was crying out: "Help us, help us." He and his wife then dove into Ms. Welch's shelter. Mr. Hagemeyer observed that a lack of preparation must have occurred for two civilians to end up in the shelter of a rookie firefighter on the edge of the road rather than in the road.
In a letter dated August 13, 2001, Paula Hagemeyer wrote that Mr. Daniels barely acknowledged her and that his only advice was "just don't panic." She and her husband put on long pants and long shirts that they retrieved from their truck. Mrs. Hagemeyer estimated that they milled around with members of the crew for about 15 to 20 minutes before the burn-over. She commented that they felt helpless, but that the crew had plenty of time to prepare "for the worse case scenario" as the fire came closer and closer. Mrs. Hagemeyer recalled hearing Mr. Daniels tell the crew to get out their shelters. According to Mrs. Hagemeyer, Mr. Daniels ignored them. She recalled asking Mr. Daniels if it would be okay to have a towel in the shelter. Mr. Daniels indicated in the affirmative, but told her not to wet it. As the flames approached, she said: "Somebody help us; somebody help us." According to Mrs. Hagemeyer, nobody helped. She and her husband then dove into the nearest shelter, which belonged to Rebecca Welch. Mrs. Hagemeyer wrote: "I am, indeed grateful, Rebecca did not ask us to leave her one-person shelter and was able to find the human decency of sharing it with two civilians." Mr. Daniels' false statements about directing Ms. Welch to take the Hagemeyers into her fire shelter was material to the Forest Service because the Forest Service listed the false statement to the Administrative Review Team as one of the specifications that could support disciplinary action against Mr. Daniels.
Ken Snell, who was a member of the Oral Reply Team, confirmed for me that the issue of Mr. Daniels telling Ms. Welch to take the civilians into her shelter was material to the Forest Service. OSHA Compliance Officer Michael Bonkowski informed me that the issue of Ms. Welch taking the civilians into her shelter was not material to OSHA's investigation because OSHA's focus is on the employer providing a reasonably safe work environment for its employees rather than on employees responding to the unexpected arrival of civilians at an incident.
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