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PARK HILLS, Mo. (AP) - Authorities have identified the two Park Hills volunteer firefighters charged with a string of arsons in St. Francois County.
Twenty-nine-year-old Bradley Easter and 22-year-old Dale Hamor are accused of intentionally setting six fires earlier this year. They remain at the county jail on $100,000 bonds.
The Daily Journal newspaper in Park Hills reports that Easter told police he drove Hamor to the scene of house fires and then picked up his colleague. The two then joined other firefighters to fight the blazes.
14 East St. Louis firefighters will keep their jobs after the Firefighters Union and city officials reached an agreement over past due wages.
Mayor Alvin Parks says the firefighters agreed to take a deal that cuts a quarter-million dollars from their back pay. 14 firefighters, or about 1/3 of the city's force, had been targeted for layoffs on September 30. Union and city officials delayed the cuts until October 15 while they worked on an agreement.
Parks says he will use the $250,000 in savings to keep the firefighters on staff.
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."
Flames could be seen shooting through the roof of the home by neighbors. Fox 2 reports three people got out safely. They are Annie Herrin, her daughter Courtney and her boyfriend, Paul Coopman. Coopman reportedly was awakened by an explosion coming from the garage and was able to get the women out safely. There's still no word on a cause but firefighters are not considering it a suspicious fire.
Fox 2 reports three months ago the family buried Annie's husband, 47-year-old Jimmy Herrin, died from pancreatic cancer. A trust fund for the family has been set up at US Bank in Troy, Illinois.
Early last year, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay had proposed replacing the current Firemen's Retirement System with a less-expensive pension system. The Board of Aldermen passed the plan, but the board that oversees the pension system sued to stop the city from implementing it.
The new system would cut costs by trimming disability payments and making pension administrators civil servants, among other things. City officials say that's necessary because the pay and benefits that the four-person administrative staff receives right now are far more than those of other city pension administrators.
The F-R-S needed a 20-million dollar infusion from the city coffers last year in order to cover expenses. Slay says the city can't keep that up for long.
The East St. Louis Fire Department gets a substantial part of it's funding from a federal grant. That grant is about to run out. The firefighter's union says that means 22 of the department's 53 firefighters would be let go.
Mayor Alvin Parks says the city is reapplying for the grant, but it could be denied. Parks told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that happens, the city would only need to lay off 10-15 firefighters because of a tax increase that took effect in January.
The firefighters union says they're already short on personnel and resources, unable to send more than 6 firefighters to any one fire scene.
The firefighters are making their case with Youtube video, which had nearly 40,000 hits in the first two days since it was posted.
According to their video, East St. Louis firefighters answer a lot of calls. About half of all 9-1-1 calls in East St. Louis last year, 950 calls were for fires.