GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - An advocate for the nation's wildland firefighters says the deaths of 19 members of a hotshot crew should cause a national "gut check."
Tim Ingalsbee, executive director of Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, said people are choosing -- and communities are allowing -- houses built in areas that are indefensible from rapidly advancing fires.
"Society at large is also complicit in some of these tragedies," he said.
Ingalsbee said homeowners build with the assumption firefighters will be there to save their houses, but added, in some locations it's not "humanly possible to protect those homes from wildfire damage or destruction if conditions are right."
Ingalsbee said past investigations have often found fault with the actions firefighters in their own deaths. He called that blaming the victims.
"Rarely are broader policy questions asked, like why were they there in the first place."
Ingaslbee made his comments in a phone interview with KARE 11 from his office in Oregon.
President Barack Obama is among those predicting the tragedy in Arizona will force government leaders to address broader questions about the handling of increasingly destructive wildfires.
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