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An example of disaster

February 13, 2009

Re " 'Stay and defend' will face scrutiny," Feb. 9

Just weeks after The Times wrote about California chiefs debating "stay and defend," possibly hundreds have died in Australia as a result of that very strategy. It is amazing to me that a few chiefs in California could forget one of the primary tenets of firefighting: Fire is unpredictable.

Instead of fighting to increase fire protection and water supplies and advocating a moratorium on building in fire-prone areas, they chose to propose a "stay and defend" strategy for residents ill-prepared for it. In a way, they are lucky that Australia suffered such a catastrophe, because it probably saved that tragedy from occurring here, and it saved the California chiefs the shame of being responsible for a large loss of life.

Chris Stavros

San Pedro

The writer is a captain in the Glendale Fire Department.

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Thank you for your coverage of the Australian brush fires. From someone who lost everything in the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, it is reassuring to see that the compassion of people from all parts of the world is reaching the victims of these brush fires. My family and I are safe for the moment. The Victoria government here is doing all it can, in consultation with other agencies, to keep us informed of any developments.

To all Americans, thank you once again.

Andrew Rayment

Emerald, Australia

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