Monday marks 33 years since an explosion killed 6 Kansas City firefighters

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been 33 years since an explosion claimed the lives of six Kansas City firefighters.

Thomas Fry, Gerald Halloran, Luther Hurd, James Kilventon Jr., Robert D. McKarnin and Michael Oldham – were killed in a massive early-morning explosion at a construction site near 71-Highway in southeast Kansas City. The explosions were ruled to be caused by arson at a construction trailer loaded with tens of thousands of pounds of explosives.

Kansas City Fire Chief Donna Lake tweeted Monday “We remember this day in our KCFD history. We remember our six brothers and the profound effect on members of the department. This led to the formation of our dedicated Hazmat team (HM71) and improved marking requirements for storage of hazardous materials.”

Kansas City’s pumper trucks 30 and 41 had arrived at a 71 Highway construction site and found two separate fires in the early hours of November 29, 1988.

What the six responding firefighters didn’t know was the burning trailers contained tens of thousands of pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil, volatile explosives being used in the highway construction.

“If we had known that, if they had known that, we wouldn’t have had six men lost,” Kansas City dispatcher Phillip Wall told FOX4 in a 1988 interview.

The six Kansas City firefighters who were killed.

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