KINGMAN, Ariz. — The Arizona communities of Kingman and Yarnell are now solemnly connected by deadly firefighting incidents.
Long before 19 Hotshot crew members were killed battling the Yarnell wildfire Sunday, Kingman was planning its 6 p.m. Friday tribute to the dozen community members who lost their lives when a propane tanker exploded on July 5, 1973.
The Kingman blast four decades ago had been the worst in Arizona’s firefighting history. “The Yarnell 19 takes the place of the Kingman 11 as far as the worst historical firefighting disasters,” Kingman Fire Chief Chuck Osterman said. “We would have gladly maintained that distinction for Yarnell not to have happened.” He will lead the memorial ceremony at Firefighter Memorial Park.
Eleven firefighters and a Doxol company manager were killed in the Kingman blast. They responded to the scene of a leaking propane tanker that caught fire on a railroad track spur. The subsequent explosion shot flames 2,000 feet into the air and blasted the 6,000-pound tank a quarter of a mile.