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Wichita Firefighters Killed In Yingling Fire Honored Nearly Five Decades Later

Courtesy Kathy Kennard
Wichita Fire Department
Copies of the memorial plaques honoring the four firefighters.

Four Wichita firefighters who lost their lives nearly five decades ago were honored today.

The Wichita Fire Department unveiled a memorial plaque near English and South Topeka, the former site of the Yingling Chevrolet Company.

On the evening of November 21, 1968, a fire broke out in the building. Four members of the Wichita Fire Department—Merle Wells, Dale Mishler, Jimmy Austin and Chief Thomas McGaughey—were killed when the roof collapsed.

Current Fire Chief Ron Blackwell said the memorial might not alleviate the pain of the loss, but he hopes it sends a message, especially to the family members of the fallen firefighters.

“Your tragedy is our tragedy," he told the crowd at Monday's memorial ceremony. "Your men are our men. Our fire department honors them and you.”

The 1968 tragedy was the single largest loss of life for the department.


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