National Wildfire Coordinating Group

RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)

Yarnell Hill Fire

RT-130 Decorative banner. Group of photos depicting wildland firefighters performing various duties.


This module reviews the Yarnell Hill Fire Serious Accident Investigation Briefing and Lessons Learned from the Weather Channel.
Category: Case Studies
Core Component(s): Other Hazards & Safety Issues;
Incident Reviews and Lessons Learned;
Fire and Aviation Operational Safety;
Human Factors, Communication and Decision Making;
Fire Shelters and Entrapment Avoidance

Estimated Delivery Time: 1 hour; Video Length: Video 1: 18:48, Estimated Delivery Time: 1 hour; Video Length: Video 2: 21:14

Part 1


Part 2




Review the sequence of events that led to tragedy on the Yarnell Hill Fire and discuss significant lessons learned.

Facilitator Preparation

  • Review the two videos and module tools.
  • Consider additional activities and discussion questions pertinent to the location and agency.

Facilitating the Discussion

  • Show one or both videos.
  • Facilitate a small or large group discussion using the activity and discussion questions below.
  • Guide discussion based on the Risk Management Process in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461. Provide copies of the IRPG for students to utilize and answer questions.

Discussion Questions

Part 1

Identify Hazards (Situation Awareness)

  1. When did the involved personnel obtain the basic critical information?
    1. Objectives, communication, who’s in charge, previous fire behavior, weather forecast, and local factors.
    2. Was the assignment scouted?

Assess Hazards

  1. Were potential fire behavior hazards estimated?
  2. Which tactical hazards or Watch Out Situations were present?
  3. What other warnings or indicators were present prior to the entrapment?

Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions

  1. Where was the fireline anchor point?
  2. Was there an established lookout?
  3. What communication links were in place between the involved personnel and their fireline supervisor or adjoining forces?
  4. What was the pre-identified escape route(s)?
  5. What was the pre-identified safety zone(s)?
  6. Was a Medical Plan in place?

Implement Controls

  1. Were the necessary hazard controls in place for this situation? If not, what was lacking?
  2. Were the strategies and tactics based on expected fire behavior? If not, why?
  3. Did all involved resources have an opportunity for feedback during the decision-making process? If not, why?

Supervise and Evaluate

  1. What individual or human factors existed that increased the potential for decision errors?
  2. What organizational factors existed that increased the potential for decision errors?
  3. As the fire and situation evolved, did the strategy, and tactics continue to work? Did the hazard controls evolve as the fire and situation evolved?

Part 2

  • Consider the casual factors identified in Part 1; then summarize the significant lessons to be learned from this case study.


Additional Video Information

These videos are also available to download: Video 1 (190 MB) and Video 2 (134 MB).
Download the .srt files (Video 1 and Video 2) for closed captioning (you may need to right click and Save As). For information on how to add closed captioning to a video, see this how to page

Note: For Chrome, Firefox, and Edge, right click Video 1 and Video 2 and select Save Link As; for IE, right click and select Save Target As.


Print This WFSTAR Module




Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 

Please Provide Feedback

NWCG values your constructive input and we thank you for taking the time to provide feedback.

Although contact information is optional, we hope that you provide a way for us to contact you in case we need clarification on your comment. If you would like to be contacted regarding your feedback, you must provide contact information. 

Due to recent hacking behavior, we are temporarily suspending our ability to upload documents.  If you need to attach additional information, please email the file to

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.