As it turns out, the fire that tops the list of most harrowing in Season 3 of Chicago Fire actually begins in the final episode of Season 2 and continues to burn in Season 3, with deadly consequences for the team. At the beginning of “Always,” the first episode of the show’s third season, numerous members of the Firehouse 51 team can be seen amidst the burning debris of the warehouse that exploded and burst into flames during the final appearance of last season. With the fire alive and the threat of another collapse imminent, the squad rushes to find surviving members amidst the chaos. Eventually, firefighter Peter Mills (Charlie Barnett) is tracked down with a broken leg. But when Leslie Shay (Lauren German) is pulled from the rubble, her severe head injury results in her being pronounced dead, a horrific loss with repercussions that will reverberate in future episodes of the season.
As previously mentioned, other events haunting the team in Season 3 clearly put favorite characters in jeopardy or take an emotional toll on those involved, including the tragic, delayed death of an infant after a rescue in episode 18. But Mills’ grievous injury and the shocking death of fan-favorite Leslie Shay in flames early in season three marks the worst possible fire for the Chicago Fire team members.