Accusations of cheating at California firefighting academy

A wildfire in Northern California's Lake County in September 2015.

A wildfire in Northern California's Lake County in September 2015.  (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

Some of the cadets who would go on to fight California's raging wildfires cheated on tests during their time at a fire training academy, and officials there let it happen, according to a test writer, The Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.

"They were going to pass everyone... and I know that this is a safety issue. This is someone's safety and life, and other people are depending on them," Shannon Browne told investigators during an interview in 2014, according to the newspaper. It reported that several hours of California Highway Patrol interviews were "leaked."

Browne revealed that instructors at the Cal Fire academy in Ione told her to change scores, and removed questions that cadets couldn't answer after the fact, the newspaper added. She reportedly suggested the academy should have changed its teaching methods instead of changing the results.

Other accusations revealed in the interviews include students freely passing copies of tests with the correct answers filled in, the newspaper reported. The alleged wrongdoing may have taken place between 2010 and 2014 during a basic training program.

"The Department took the allegations raised during the CHP investigation very seriously and took additional steps to tighten the security of testing materials and limit access to test questions and answers," Cal Fire spokeswoman Janet Upton told the newspaper.

Wildfires up and down the West Coast have been among the worst on record in 2015, charring nearly 10 million acres.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.