Yesterday Deadliest Day for Firefighters Since 9/11

Only 5 days in US history have higher death tolls
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2013 12:00 PM CDT
Yesterday Deadliest Day for Firefighters Since 9/11
Firefighters work near a wildfire burning along a ridge in Yarnell, Ariz., in this photo provided by the U.S. Forest Service, Monday, July 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

It's clear that yesterday was a brutal day for firefighters, with 19 killed in Arizona's Yarnell Hill Fire. But USA Today puts the tragedy in starker terms: It's the worst day our nation's firefighters have suffered since 9/11, and in terms of wildfires, it's the third deadliest day on record. It references data from the National Fire Protection Association, which adds the fatalities to its list of deadliest occurrences of all kinds:

  1. 340: Killed at World Trade Center on 9/11
  2. 86: Dead in Silverton, Idaho's Devil's Broom wildfire, 1910
  3. 29: Dead in California's Griffith Park fire, 1933

  1. 27: Killed in Texas City, Texas, ship explosion, 1947
  2. 21: Killed in a meat packing plant fire in Chicago, 1910
  3. 19: Those who died in the Yarnell blaze will tie with an 1882 fireworks plant tragedy in Chester, Pa., and a refinery blast in 1956 in Dumas, Texas
Yesterday's toll could have been 20: The AP reports that one member of the hotshot crew survived after separating from the team to move its vehicle. The NFPA adds that the number of firefighters to perish each year has actually been dropping; the annual average for the last decade is 88, but last year's toll was a lower 64. (Read more Yarnell Hill Fire stories.)

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