Tom Cova weighs in on Yarnell Fire evacuations

Geography Professor Tom Cova was interviewed for a recent story on evacuations during the Yarnell Hill Fire in Arizona. On the afternoon of June 30th, 2013, the Yarnell Hill Fire was pushed by thunderstorm downdrafts and reversed direction. The rapidly growing fire trapped a hotshot firefighting crew, ultimately killing 19 firefighters. The tragic death of these firefighters dominated the headlines following the fire, but the flawed evacuation of Yarnell residents is just now coming to light. An article published in the Arizona Republic and USA Today uses public records and interviews to reveal that evacuations were chaotic and ordered too late. Dr. Cova describes how evacuation triggers were set too close to the community of Yarnell, and how there are no uniform standards for setting triggers and evacuation orders. One of Dr. Cova’s areas of research involves evacuation decision-making.