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YARNELL, Ariz. (AP) - Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

   The "hotshot" firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters - tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat - when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

   The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.

   The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

   Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city's fire department. The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.  

   Fraijo said in a news conference that the department is grieving the loss of so many of its members.

   "By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly," he said.

   He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when "something drastic" occurred.

   "One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective - kinda looks like a foil type- fire-resistant material - with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it," Fraijo said.

   "Under certain conditions there's usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive," he said. "It's an extreme measure that's taken under the absolute worst conditions."

   The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

   Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle burned on Sunday. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.

   About 200 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which has also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

   Federal help was also being called into to fight the fire, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

   Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

   The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff's office said.

   U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yarnell, shot off a series of tweets Sunday night sending his condolences to those affected. He said his office will remain in contact with emergency responders and would offer help to those who needed it.

   Other high profile Arizonans expressed their shock on Twitter, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who called it "absolutely devastating news." U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that he was "sick with the news."

   

 
Published in National News
Thursday, 13 June 2013 06:42

Fire destroys a Belleville fitness center

Fire has destroyed the LivRite Fitness Center in the 1000 block of Carlyle. Firefighters remain at the scene (6:45am).

The building is considered a complete loss. Fire crews are still dealing with a hot spot. Smoke can be seen coming through a portion of the roof. The fire call came in just after 11:00pm Wednesday night. When firefighters arrived, flames were already threw the roof. The business was closed.   No one was hurt.

Fire officials say the cause of the fire is still under investigation. But officials say a janitor has reported hearing popping sounds shortly before the fire broke out, so an electrical fire is suspected. No one was injured in that blaze.

 
Published in Local News

The team of an environmentalist made famous by Julia Roberts is coming to St. Louis. 

A spokesman for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment told KTRS News that a team representing Erin Brockovich will be in north county to address concerns surrounding the Bridgeton Landfill.

The smoldering event underneath the landfill has residents worried it could threaten nuclear waste buried next door at the West Lake Landfill. Residents and environmentalists hope the Brockovich name will draw attention to the issue. Recent tests done by the EPA suggest the underground fire would take 10 years to reach the nuclear waste.

Missouri health officials and the state's Department of Natural Resources are monitoring the smoldering closely.

Published in Local News

   ROSEDALE, Md. (AP) — Officials say the fire at a derailed chemical-carrying CSX train outside Baltimore is under control.

   Capt. Bruce Schultz of the Baltimore County Office of the Fire Marshal's investigative services announced early Wednesday that the blaze in Rosedale, Md., a suburb east of Baltimore, was called under control late Tuesday just before midnight.

   Schultz says CSX has moved unaffected cars away from the derailed cars and the fire department operations have been reduced to a fire watch at this time.

   Federal investigators will spend the coming days piecing together what caused the train to collide with a trash truck Tuesday afternoon.

   Authorities say some of the derailed cars — at least one carrying hazardous materials — caught fire and an explosion rattled homes at least a half-mile away.

Published in National News

The 2,200 passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas are expected to arrive in Baltimore today, after their planned seven-night cruise was cut short because of a ship fire. 

This young passenger says the entire experience was horrifying.

I thought, "We are gonna die." I thought we had to get on the lifeboats and go.

The fire began early Monday and was put out two hours later with no injuries reported. Royal Caribbean says the ship never lost power but photos show a substantial area of the stern burned on several decks of the ship the length of about three football fields.

 
Published in National News

The town of Percy, Illinois said a final farewell to the four children killed in last Friday's house fire.

12-year-old Ethan, 9-year-old Kailey, and 5-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen died in the fire. Their parents and a cousin escaped the burning home. Derrick Twardoski faces four murder charges in connection to the fire.

Prosecutors say they believe they know why he set the fire, but are not releasing the motive ahead of the trial.

 

Published in Local News

Four siblings killed in a Randolph County, Illinois house fire that prosecutors say was intentionally set are about to be laid to rest.

Services are scheduled for this afternoon at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Steeleville for 12-year-old Ethan Owen and his siblings, 9-year-old Kailey Owen and 5-year-old twins Brandon Owen and Landon Owen.

 The Randolph County coroner says the children died of apparent smoke inhalation during the fire early last Friday at their home in Percy. The village is located about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. Their parents managed to escape.

33-year-old Derrick Twardoski faces four counts of first-degree murder in the case. During a court appearance Monday, Twardoski wept while he pleaded not guilty, was denied bond and was assigned a public defender to represent him.  

 
Published in Local News

 The man accused of setting the Randolph County house fire that killed four children has pleaded not guilty.

33-year-old Derrick Twardoski is facing murder charges after allegedly setting the fire that killed 12-year-old Ethan Owen, 9-year-old Kailey Owen, and five-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen in Percy, a village 60 miles southeast of St. Louis. A judge ordered him jailed without bond and assigned him to be represented by a public defender.   State's Attorney Jeremy Walker says he doesn't consider the fire random, though he's declined to detail what led investigators to Twardoski or any relationship he may have had with the victims.

Randolph County Coroner Randy Dudenbostel has confirmed that all four died of smoke inhalation.  

Funeral services for the children will be Tuesday at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Steelville, Illinois.  

Donation are being accepted at the church to help the family with their expenses.  

The funeral service for the Owen children has been planned. It will be held Tuesday, May 14, at 2:00pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Steeleville, IL, with visitation Monday evening from 4:00pm until 8:00pm and again Tuesday from 7:30am until 1:45pm also at the church.

 
Published in Local News

   A well-known Kirkwood eatery may be closed for a few days after an electrical fire shut it down Sunday morning.  

   Firefighters were called to the Texas Roadhouse restaurant in the 1200 block of Kirkwood Road a little before 11:00 a.m.   

   Kirkwood fire Chief Tom Openlander said it appeared the fire started in a neon sign that sits high on the side of the restaurant facing Lindbergh Boulevard. He said it was fortunate timing because the fire was spotted quickly and before the restaurant had opened.

   The fire did minor damage above the roof line.  

Published in Local News

A man now faces four murder charges in connection to the fire in southern Illinois that left four children dead.

Police say 33-year-old Derrick Twardoski is responsible for the fatal blaze. The fire broke out just before 2 this morning in Percy.

The victims were identified as 12-year-old Ethan Owen, and his siblings 9-year-old Kailey, and 5-year-old twins Brandon and Landon. Their parents and cousin survived.

Percy is a village in a rural area with a popaulation of about 1,000 people. It is about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

Published in Local News
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