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Official: Numerous factors led to Yarnell Hill Fire tragedy

PHOENIX – The recent tragedy of the Yarnell Hill wildfire that killed 19 firefighters has some wondering how a simple wildfire could have become so deadly.

Jim Paxon, a public information officer with the Arizona Game and Fish Department told News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s Mac & Gaydos how such a fire could have formed when long droughts combined with a perfect thunderstorm hit a certain area like Yarnell Hill.

“It’s a combination of factors… we had pretty good winter rains and we grew a lot of grass in that country, and grass is a carrier of fire,” Paxon said when asked by Gaydos what exactly causes wildfires to occur.

Paxon also said that investigators will look into the exact causes of the fire to determine how it could have turned so dangerous in a short amount of time.

When asked if he knew anyone of the 19 victims of the fire, Paxon said he only knew 43-year-old Eric Marsh.

“His life was fighting fire. He was one of these guys that lived and breathed it every day,” Paxon said.

For volunteer, fundraising and other ways to assist those affected by the Yarnell Hill Fire, go to

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