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INATTENTION TO SAFETY PROCEDURES BLAMED IN 4 FIREFIGHTERS' DEATHS

Four firefighters were killed by a forest fire in the Cascade Range because basic safety rules weren't followed, according to a Forest Service report issued Wednesday.

Procedures that weren't followed at the time of the July 10 deaths included identifying escape routes, being aware of weather forecasts and posting lookouts, said the report, which Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth released at a news conference.

At critical times, fire managers and forest personnel also failed to accurately assess fire behavior, the potential for the fire to get out of control and the flammability of the vegetation in the Okanogan National Forest, the report said.

The four victims of the fire were among 21 firefighters on mop-up duty who were trapped when stiff wind stoked the blaze and it exploded from 25 acres to 2,500 acres in less than three hours.

Tom Craven, 30, Devin Weaver, 21, Jessica Johnson, 19, and Karen FitzPatrick, 18, died after inhaling superheated air when the fire burned through an area where they had deployed their emergency heat-resistant fire shelters. It was the country's deadliest wildfire since 1994.

Another firefighter survived with serious burns.

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