10 fire service incidents that defined the decade
From dangerous structure fires to active shooter events, firefighters faced many significant incidents in the 2010s
By FireRescue1 Staff
The 2010s were difficult years for public safety, with active shooter events, the opioid crisis and budget cuts amplifying risks to first responders and straining agency resources.
The decade saw several major fire incidents, from devastating structural fires to sweeping wildfires, as well as the deaths of many first responders from Ground Zero-related illnesses.
As we head into 2020, we reflect on the past 10 years of historic fire service incidents that defined the decade, in the United States and abroad, and share some of FireRescue1’s coverage of the events.
2019: Notre Dame Cathedral fire – Paris, France
A massive fire devastated large parts of the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15-16, 2019. Approximately 400 firefighters battled the blaze for two days, saving the structure of the gothic cathedral after a fire gutted the roof and destroyed the spire. Despite the enormity of the fire, no lives were lost.
- 400 Parisian firefighters save Notre Dame structure
- Rapid Response: Historic landmark fires are a tactical and emotional challenge for firefighters
- Notre Dame fire: Paris Fire Brigade deployed unmanned robots and drones
2018: Camp Fire – Paradise, California
Damage to an electrical transmission line on Camp Creek Road sparked mammoth fires in Northern California on Nov. 8, 2018. When the Camp Fire was contained on Nov. 25, 2018, it had burned 153,336 acres and destroyed nearly 14,000 residences in the town of Paradise, with 85 civilian fatalities, making it the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history. But fire destruction for the entire year was much greater, making 2018 California’s worst ever year for fire events.
- Northern Calif. wildfire death toll rises to 81, 870 missing
- Video: CAL FIRE releases video of the 2018 Camp Fire
- ‘Fire in Paradise’: Documentary captures the first horrific hours of the Camp Fire
2017: Grenfell Tower fire – London, England
A small refrigerator fire ravaged the 24-story Grenfell Tower apartment building in London on June 14, 2017. Seventy-one people were killed, making the fire Great Britain’s deadliest in decades. Firefighters saved 223 residents.
- London police: Final Grenfell Tower fire death toll is 71
- Video: Devastating footage inside London’s fatal high-rise fire
- Preplanning and fire safety advocacy: The legacy of the Grenfell Tower fire
2017: Route 91 Harvest festival shooting – Las Vegas, Nevada
A gunman opened fire on 22,000 Las Vegas concert attendees from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Oct. 1, 2017. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States.
- At least 50 dead, 515 injured in Las Vegas concert shooting
- Firefighter on Vegas shooting: ‘It was like a war scene’
- Helping first responders recover after Las Vegas shooting
2016: Ghost Ship warehouse fire – Oakland, California
Thirty-six people died when a fire swept through an Oakland, California, warehouse. The building, known as the Ghost Ship, contained several artist studios and was an illegal home for a dozen or more people.
- Calif. warehouse fire death toll rises to 33
- ‘Like a huge fireplace’: Calif. officer voiced concerns about Ghost Ship
- Verdicts reached in deadly ‘Ghost Ship’ fire that killed 36
2013: Yarnell Hill Fire – Yarnell, Arizona
A grass fire ignited by lightning near the small town of Yarnell, Arizona, on June 28, overran and killed 19 Prescott firefighters who were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The Yarnell Hill Fire is the most fatal incident of any kind involving U.S. firefighters since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
- Yarnell Hill Fire Investigative Report press conference
- Sole survivor of Ariz. Hotshot crew still healing
- Yarnell Hill: The human factor
2013: Fertilizer plant explosion – West, Texas
On April 17, 2013, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, leveled part of the small town. Of the 14 victims, most were first responders from fire departments in West and nearby towns.
2013: Southwest Inn fire – Houston, Texas
Four firefighters searching for people they believed might be trapped in the blazing Southwest Inn motel in Houston were killed on May 31, 2013, when part of the structure collapsed. At least five other firefighters were injured as flames shot from the roof of the motel and an adjoining restaurant. The fire marked the single worst loss of life in the Houston Fire Department’s history.
- 4 Houston firefighters killed in hotel fire
- Report: 8 shortcomings in motel fire that killed 4 Houston firefighters
- Report: Houston fatal hotel fire committee makes 200 safety recommendations
2012: Webster ambush on firefighters – Webster, New York
On Christmas Eve 2012, a gunman ambushed firefighters after luring them to a house fire he had set. The gunman, a convicted killer, shot four firefighters, killing two – Michael Chiapperini and Tomasz Kaczowka – and seriously injuring the others. He then killed himself. Seven homes were destroyed as firefighters waited for police to secure the scene.
- 4 firefighters shot, 2 fatally, in western NY
- West Webster firefighters laid to rest
- Town of Webster remembers fallen firefighters
Ongoing: Deaths from Ground Zero-related illness
In July, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the 200th NYC firefighter had died from a disease related to working at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Since 9/11, firefighters and other responders have succumbed to Ground Zero-related illnesses, such as pulmonary fibrosis and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The responders and their families continue to need help. In July 2019, President Donald Trump signed a bill ensuring that a victims’ compensation fund related to the attacks never runs out of money.
- Deaths of 9/11 first responders from Ground Zero-related illnesses are on the rise
- Firefighter who rescued hundreds of 9/11 victims dies of cancer
- 3 retired FDNY firefighters die within 48-hour period