30 June 2013

19 firefighters die while fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona.


The Yarnell Hill Fire was a wildfire near Yarnell, Arizona, ignited by lightning on June 28, 2013. On June 30, it overran and killed 19 City of Prescott firefighters, members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. It was the deadliest U.S. wildfire since the 1991 East Bay Hills fire, which killed 25 people; the deadliest wildland fire for U.S. firefighters since the 1933 Griffith Park Fire, which killed 29; and the deadliest incident of any kind for U.S. firefighters since the September 11, 2001, attacks, which killed 343. It is the sixth-deadliest American firefighter disaster overall and the deadliest wildfire ever in Arizona.

At 5:36 p.m. MST on June 28, 2013, lightning ignited a wildfire on BLM lands near Yarnell, Arizona, a town of approximately 700 residents about eighty miles northwest of Phoenix. On June 30, strong winds reaching more than 22 mph (35 km/h), pushed the fire from 300 acres to over 2,000 acres.A long-term drought affecting the area contributed to the fire’s rapid spread and erratic behavior, as did temperatures of 101 °F (38 °C).

By July 1 the fire had grown to over 8,300 acres and prompted the evacuation of the nearby community of Peeples Valley.The fire was still completely uncontrolled, with more than 400 firefighters on the line. On July 2 the fire was estimated at 8 percent containment and had not grown in the past 24 hours. By the end of the day on July 3, the fire was reportedly 45 percent contained and not growing thus allowing Peeples Valley residents to return to their homes on July 4.Four days later on July 8 residents of Yarnell were permitted to return. The fire was declared 100 percent contained on July 10.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said that 127 buildings in Yarnell and two in Peeples Valley had been destroyed. A “flash point” of the fire was the Glen Ilah neighborhood of Yarnell where fewer than half of the structures were burned.