Prescott Fire Findings

On Jun. 30, 19 Prescott, Arizona firemen died in, what The Wall Street Journal is calling, “one of the nation’s deadliest wild land fires.”  I felt that WSJ writer, William Harless, did a respectable job covering such a touchy story.  Harless certainly doesn’t hold back the facts regarding the report, and yet he doesn’t demoralize the Prescott Fire Department and community.  It’s a tragedy, what happened to that Prescott community; however, it is crucial not leave out any information from the reader.  A journalist wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t cover the facts, good or bad, of the entire event.  Since such a large scale publication (i.e. Wall Street Journal) covered this event, they don’t have to face as big of a burden as a local, smaller publication.  A smaller publication wouldn’t want to leave any information out; however, they need to be a bit more careful with what they publish because they also need to keep their sources and readers.  I enjoyed that Harless, WSJ writer, took the time to get know the sources.  Even though this is not considered a top story, Harless took the time to interview the families of the victims.  Additionally, Harless provided a balanced story by sharing the stories of the victim’s families and the people responsible for the miscommunication.  It’s an unfortunate event, but I’m glad the WSJ decided to follow up on the story and report the findings of the recent investigation.  The report regarding the events of the tragedy was published by a ‘team of federal and state firefighters and analysts from around the country’ on Sept. 28.  The findings stated that miscommunications between firefighters and supervisors and ineffective equipment ultimately led to the tragedy.  The WSJ article states, “investigators found “no indication of negligence, reckless actions, or violations of policy or protocol” by those managing or fighting the blaze.”

The NY Times article, published by Fernanda Santos, felt a bit dry and dispassionate. Santos article lacked the personal feel that the WSJ article gave.  First, there weren’t many quotes from the victims of the families.  At the very end, on the second page (which, if I may add, is infrequently read), there was only one quote from a wife of one of the fallen firefighters.  There were; however, several accounts from firemen working during the night of the event.  This article mainly covered the facts of the investigation.  Even though this was a two page article, there was not much to cover. Santos frequently mentions that the events pertaining to the report were deemed as unclear.  According to the report: “Nobody will ever know how the crew actually saw their situation, the options they considered or what motivated their actions.”  Santos states the ‘how’ and the ‘where,’ but neglects to share the why-The Truth.  Furthermore, the article makes a very perplexing claim.  Santos makes this statement regarding the jun. 30 tragedy: “the deadliest day for firefighters since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and perhaps the most vexing.”  I feel like this quote is very significant, but I’m not sure if it’s an opinion or a legitimate fact.  If it was that severe, why wasn’t it covered more profoundly?  I vaguely remember hearing about this event.  Additionally, if a statement like that is to be made, I feel that it should be followed by some logic or reasoning justified by one of the officials responsible for producing the report.

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