How today’s Yarnell tragedy fits into the history of multiple fatality wildland fires

The very tragic deaths of most of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew on the Yarnell Fire Sunday may cause us to think about other similar incidents. It is not uncommon for firefighters to die on fires, in fact the National Interagency Fire Center has records of 1,030 fatalities of various causes on wildland fires, with 424 caused by burnovers, becoming entrapped in a fire.

But as many as 19 being killed at one time has not happened since October 3, 1933, when 25 firefighters were entrapped and killed while fighting a fire in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The only other incident with more than 19 wildland firefighter fatalities occurred on the “Big Blowup Fires” of August 21, 1910 when 72 firefighters died in Idaho.

According to records maintained by the National Interagency Fire Center, 21 firefighters have been killed on wildland fires in Arizona going back to 1955. The highest number on one fire up until today was on the Dude Fire, which coincidentally we wrote about earlier today.

Wildland Firefighter fatalities of 10 or more

More information: a partial list, by date of the year, of some of the more famous, or infamous, multiple fatality wildland fires around the world over the last 150 years.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of WildfireToday.com and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

4 thoughts on “How today’s Yarnell tragedy fits into the history of multiple fatality wildland fires

  1. Awful. Just awful. Although I never worked on the Prescott National Forest, I lived in Prescott while working as a firefighter on the Coronado National Forest in southern Arizona. This tragedy touches me in a number of ways. My sincerest condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of those who died.

  2. Still trying to get my head cleared. No words. We were there yesterday, we’re there today. The fire isn’t over.

  3. Although I no longer live in the mountains I lived through the Overland Fire West of Boulder in 2003. Our firefighters are true heroes I am praying for their families at this time of heartbreaking loss. It is a sad, sad thing.

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