Los Angeles Times

California blazes take a grim toll on firefighters and other responders

REDDING, Calif. - Ben Newburn faced a group of weary firefighters gathered a few mornings ago with one message: Safety before anything else.

The veteran fire management officer for U.S. Forest Service recounted the numerous firefighters who had lost their lives battling massive blazes in the region. There was Andrew Palmer, who died 10 years ago while clearing trees. And the nine firefighters killed in 2008 when their helicopter crashed in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, an incident seared in history as the "Iron 44 tragedy."

"This country ... chews up firefighters. It has had a

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