WASHINGTON - The U.S. Forest Service contributed to the deaths of five firefighters in California by failing to follow safety protocols, a federal report said Thursday.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found six serious violations in connection with the October 2006 fire, The Los Angeles Times reported. They included a night arrival at the fire scene and placing the firefighters in front of the flames.
The firefighters, all employed by the Forest Service, were overrun by the Esperanza fire in the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs. A recent state report said the firefighters were not told that the isolated house they were trying to save had been classified as "non-defensible" by state fire officials.
An auto mechanic from Beaumont, Calif., has been charged with setting the fire. The Riverside County District Attorney plans to seek the death penalty.
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