Nine hours later, they were surrounded by flames. All but one — the man serving as lookout — died in the blaze.
Unbeknownst to the other rescuers, the Granite Mountain Hotshots apparently left "the black," a safe, already-burned ridge area. At some point the fire changed course, and they became trapped in a bowl surrounded by three mountains. They had only two minutes to attempt to construct shelters before the fire overtook them.
Although much communication occurred among crews throughout the day, few people understood Granite Mountain’s intentions, movements, and location, once they left the black. The Team believes this is due to brief, informal, and vague radio transmissions and talkarounds that can occur during wildland fire communications. Based on radio conversations, Operations and other resources had concluded the Granite Mountain IHC was located in the black, near the ridge top where they had started that morning. This resulted in confusion about the crew’s actual location at the time of search and rescue.
[image via AP]