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The Los Angeles Times had a great story yesterday that profiled the illegal immigrants who died trying to cross the border last year in the Harris Fire. The narrative begins with this harrowing tale:

On his way up Tecate Peak with six other migrants, (Moises) Ramirez had stopped to pray at a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe. But soon after they climbed over the border fence that Sunday, a Santa Ana blew in from the east, and they saw an orange glow rise up from the horizon. Flames raced toward them on 80-mph winds and the “coyote” they’d hired to guide them into the United States took off, leaving them to face a blaze that was chewing up chaparral like a wild beast.

Ramirez knew he couldn’t outrun his fate, and his cries to the virgencita were failing to keep the wind-whipped Harris Ranch fire at bay. As he huddled behind a boulder with the others, flames as tall as trees engulfed them. The ground crackled around them, and then they were beating out fire on each other’s backs with their bare hands. “I’m burning, put me out,” one after another screamed. “I’m going to die,” the 34-year-old Ramirez thought. “There’s no salvation.”

Make sure to check out Times photographer Don Bartletti’s narrated video

ROB DAVIS

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