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Raging Fires Illuminate Our Plans and Policies

October 28, 2003

How many times have taxpayers been down this road, with wildfires burning homes in the foothills and mountains? Why do county governments continue to issue permits to developers to build homes in high-risk areas? Why are there not more-stringent building codes for those areas? Californians are now faced with increased costs and very likely an increase in our insurance policies. Why is there no special annual assessment on each home built in the foothills and mountain communities to help offset the firefighting costs?

It is sad and upsetting to hear about the lives lost and see so much property destroyed. Another horror is the loss of wildlife. County governments need to seriously overhaul their policies allowing development in chaparral and forested areas.

William Richardson

Myrna Richardson

Van Nuys

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Now that two and possibly three good friends' families have lost their homes to the devastating fires scorching Southern California, I can't help but wonder if even one home could have been spared had not so many of our brave firefighters, acting in the reserves, been shipped to Iraq to "defend" America from the horrible threats President Bush lied about. Apparently the trillions America spent on weapons during the Cold War can't protect us, so now our reserves have to do it. Thank you, Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney -- we'll miss you after next November.

Albert Garcia

Fullerton

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Your Oct. 27 picture showing a mother comforting her son at the ruin of their home brought tears to my eyes. Too many homes were lost due to the wildfires. Fire victims need help, and our government should do more than simply give normal disaster relief. I keep wondering -- shouldn't we be spending some of the money earmarked for Iraq here at home? Let's take care of our own before wasting our limited resources in other countries.

David Chen

Hacienda Heights

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The vehicle registration tax funds police and fire departments around the state. With fires having destroyed hundreds of homes in Southern California, people may want to reconsider the wisdom of Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's promise to rescind Gov. Gray Davis' tripling of the tax. How would you like to be the homeowner who has just been informed that no resources are available to protect your home?

Arch Miller

Arcadia

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Re "Heroes Ride on Car Tax," editorial, Oct. 27: Do you really feel that state Sen. Tom McClintock's intention of "starving the government" would include cutting such vital services as emergency firefighters? There is plenty of nonessential fat that should be trimmed from government expenditures before such drastic, callous cuts as you unfairly suggest he is calling for. You have taken a cheap shot at an honest, responsible leader.

Ted Henry

Torrance

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It is with a sense of horror and deja vu that the residents of Canberra, Australia, watch the footage of the firestorms devastating Southern California. We faced a similar situation in January when 500 homes were destroyed in an afternoon. The pictures brought back memories of the awful destruction wrought under these circumstances and the stories of courage and sheer luck. There will be a temptation to attempt to find blame in the preparedness of the authorities. Although this is an inevitable reaction to the extreme stress that people (particularly those who have lost homes) experience, if the conditions that led to this disaster were the same as they were for us, there is literally nothing that can be done. I hope that those affected quickly recover from their ordeal.

Nick Rofe

Canberra, Australia

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