INLAND EMPIRE CA -- As a former certified wildland fire fighter, I am very sad and angry over the deaths of 4 US Forest Service fire fighters in southern California this week.
Yes, it looks like some jerk set this fire, but these deaths didn't have to happen.
I've lived and worked many years in this part of southern California, and we can't stop hot fires during gusty dry Santa Ana winds. These lands have always burned, and we're not going to stop it.
Federal bosses sent these guys in to an explosive deathtrap and they died.
The Bush Forest Service failed fire policy is mostly to blame here for these deaths.
In general, fires go out when environmental conditions change, such as the wind dies, humidity goes up, or it rains.
These wildland fire fighters died trying to save houses in the forest. I understand people don't want their houses to burn down, but it can and will happen when urban sprawl moves in to wild areas and people don't prepare for fire.
The responsibility for protecting structures lies mainly with property owners. Far too many are still not practicing 'fire wise' living by removing burnable materials far away from their homes.
Forest Service fire fighters should not primarily focus on saving doomed houses to save the insurance industry fat cats big money.
We've got to start letting more fires burn themselves out, and stop killing fire fighters for the sake of urban sprawl, irresponsible land owners, and insurance industry lobbyists.