Yarnell Hill wildfire is third-deadliest for U.S. firefighters

The Arizona Republic is reporting tonight that 19 firefighters have died in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

This disaster looks to be the third-deadliest incident in the history of U.S. wildland firefighting and the highest number of deaths in a single episode since 25 were lost in a 1933 fire in Griffith Park, California. The Great Fire of 1910 in the Northern Rockies claimed 72 lives, but there is a lack of data on firefighter deaths in the subsequent two decades.

We just published a post on wildland firefighter fatalities, based on data from the National Interagency Fire Center that is available here.

I’ve extracted all of the incidents in which more than 10 firefighters died and sorted them in the chart below (data is only available through 2011).

Deadliest incidents for U.S. wildland firefighters

A burnover was responsible for all of the deaths in the incidents shown above.

To put the 19 deaths in context, an average of 18 U.S. wildland firefighters have died each year over the past decade. Here’s the number of fatalities per year since 1910:
Wildland firefighter deaths: 1910-2011

You can explore this data and download images on our dashboard page.

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