About 'Beyond the Flames'
In preparing this series, The Inquirer interviewed more than 300 people and reviewed thousands of pages of documents.
At least 230 firefighters and other emergency workers were exposed to the Wade dump fire or its aftermath. Reporters reconstructed the stories of 207 of these workers from interviews with them or their survivors, or, in a few cases, from court documents. Medical documentation was gathered for almost everyone who claimed a serious illness.
Sources of information included criminal and civil court records, death certificates, and estate papers. Reporters also reviewed state workers' compensation records, which include medical summaries and doctors' testimony.
Records on the Wade fire fill more than 80 storage boxes at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection. The documents include correspondence from waste-generating companies, government memoranda, and other information about how chemical wastes were dumped at the site.
Company memos and letters quoted in this series are from those files.
Statements attributed to firefighter Vincent "Moose" McLaughlin, who died in 1987, are drawn from workers' compensation testimony, family videos, and recollections of his widow, daughters and coworkers.