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Wildfires: Deadliest Firefighter Tragedies

July 1, 2013

Here is a look at some of the deadliest U.S. tragedies to have claimed the lives of wildland firefighters, including the 19 killed in an Arizona blaze Sunday:

  • June 30, 2013: Nineteen members of an elite crew are killed in a fire northwest of Phoenix that lit up the night sky in the forest above the town of Yarnell. The fast-moving blaze fueled by hot, dry conditions is the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.
  • Aug. 5, 2008: Nine people were killed when a helicopter crashed shortly after taking off with a load of firefighters heading back to camp in Northern California. Seven of the dead were firefighters with Grayback Forestry Inc. The crew was fighting a forest fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest outside Redding, Calif.
  • Aug. 24, 2003: Eight contract firefighters who had spent two weeks fighting an Idaho wildfire were killed on their way home when their van collided with a tractor-trailer and exploded into flames outside Vale, Ore. The firefighters, all men, worked for First Strike Environmental, a contract firefighting company and all were from Oregon.
  • July 6, 1994: A blaze near Glenwood Springs, Colo., killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames. The lightning-sparked Storm King Mountain blaze roared through shrubs as the firefighters scrambled uphill. Thirty-five firefighters on the mountain that day survived.
  • July 9, 1953: The Rattlesnake fire in Southern California took the lives of 15 firefighters battling a blaze in Mendocino National Forest.
  • Aug. 5, 1949:  The Mann Gulch fire near Helena, Mont., killed 12 smokejumpers and a forest ranger after they were overrun by flames.
  • Oct. 3, 1933:  The Griffith Park wildfire in Los Angeles killed 29 firefighters.

Source:  National Fire Protection Association

MORE:  Western Wildfire Photos

Exhausted Firemen

Exhausted Firemen

Associated Press

Under a fog of heavy smoke, fire crews get ready for a night of sleep Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, at Confluence State Park in Wenatchee, Wash., where a camp has been set up to house and feed personell here to fight fires in North Central Washington.

  • Exhausted Firemen
  • Providing Support
  • A Smoky Landscape
  • Blaze Remains Pesky
  • Clearing Brush
  • Smoke Plume Viewed from Satellite
  • A Dire Scene
  • Surveying the Damage
  • Battling the Blaze
  • Firefighting From Above
  • Smoke Rising Over the Mountain
  • Dark Cloud of Smoke
  • Smoking the Sun
  • Dousing the Flames

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