New video sheds new light on "hotshot" firefighter deaths

LOS ANGELES - On Monday, we got a look inside one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history. It was in in June of last year, that 19 hotshot firefighters were killed in Yarnell, Ariz. Video shot by other firefighters has just been released.

The video shows the intensity of the fast-moving flames the Granite Mountain hotshots faced in their final moments.

As shifting winds pushed the fire and billowing smoke back on the command post -- forcing fire managers to evacuate themselves -- they were plagued by communication problems.

John MacLean has written five books about wildland firefighting and is independently investigating this fire.

"The videos that came out show a very chaotic situation," he said. "The difficulties of communication, the fact that no one knew where Granite Mountain was," said MacLean. "You see people on the ground asking for cell phone numbers because they can't communicate."

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A video released Monday shows the chaotic fight to save 19 firefighters in Arizona who were killed on Granite Mountain.

CBS News

"I had his old number, but I don't have his new number," a firefighter is heard saying on the video. "Can you text it to me, I really need it bad right about now."

During the communication chaos, the hotshots were trapped by 2,000 degree heat and surrounded by a 100-foot wall of fire that was closing in fast.

"Breaking in on Arizona 16," said another radio transmission. "Granite Mountain hotshots, we are in front of the flaming front."

Their final radio transmissions were recorded on another firefighters's helmet camera.

"Our escape route has been cut off. We are preparing a deployment site and we are burning out around ourselves in the brush and I'll give you a call when we are under ... the shelters."

Shortly after, air tanker pilots tried to contact the hotshots.

"Division Alpha Bravo 3-3 air to ground," they said. Sounds of explosions followed.

Firefighters on all-terrain vehicles raced through the active burn zone to search for their friends.

When they found the hotshots, it was immediately clear there were no survivors.

"Yeah Todd on scene. 18 confirmed."

In the end, 19 hotshots were killed and the public release of these new videos came as a complete surprise to their families. Twelve of them are now suing the Arizona Department of Forestry. They claim the overall mismanagment of this fire led to the deaths of their loved ones.