Last Sunday the residents of Donart Drive (in rural Poway, San Diego County) were evacuated because of the fire. No fire equipment was available -- instead, a group of men (mostly young) appeared with a huge hose and got to work. They saved the homes on the entire street. They are true heroes in my eyes. I don't know who you are, but thank you, thank you, thank you!
My personal hero is our son, Scott Harber, who raced down from Los Angeles (at 90 mph, I'm sure) and stayed with the house to make sure it didn't burn. He and the others were amazing.
When we returned that night, the fire was still burning, but it had passed our home. The street was completely blocked by looky-loos double-parked and having a party -- each SUV had adults and several kids, all with cameras and just having a ball. It didn't bother them that they were impeding the people who were putting out the fire or that this was serious business for those who lived there. These are idiots -- stupid, stupid people.
Another unbelievably mean-spirited and ugly editorial cartoon from Michael Ramirez (Commentary, Oct. 30), blaming the outcome of the firestorms on homeowners. A fire that can jump 12 lanes of freeway, as it did at Mira Mesa and the 15 Freeway in San Diego, will destroy homes no matter how many trees one has trimmed. And all of our terrain in Southern California is fire-prone. Enough of this guy already. You have subjected your readers to his venom for far too long.
As much as we are reminded of the West Nile virus, killer bees, imminent threats of terrorists trying to secretly enter the country and weapons of mass destruction, we are sobered by the reality of dry weather, driving winds and a source of ignition.
Mark A. Leon
Re "Delay in Aerial Water Drops Is Criticized," Oct. 29: Since watching a house near Julian burst into flames after being hit by at least two air drops (water from a helicopter and flame retardant from a plane) and then continue to burn furiously despite being doused again, I can't accept Richard Carson's claim that the Cedar Fire possibly could have been stopped before wreaking destruction in Scripps Ranch and throughout San Diego County.
Unquestionably, the bureaucratic failings discussed in the story are absurd and appalling -- the system must be quickly and completely overhauled. But given the wind, weather and fuel conditions on Sunday, the Cedar Fire was essentially unstoppable once it started.
Sooner or later, fires happen in Southern California. And the longer the wait, the greater the fury. With all due respect to Carson, and with deepest sympathy to all those who've suffered, I believe our current efforts are best focused on mutually supporting our fellow human beings during this still-early phase of the tragedy.
The same housecleaning performed on the governor's office must be applied to the upper management level of the California Department of Forestry. The Times' revelation that state officials refused the assistance of numerous San Diego-based Navy firefighting helicopters is shocking. California has had it with poor decision-making and failures to act at high levels of government. Those in the CDF management need to pack their bags and follow Gov. Gray Davis to the exits.
They are estimating the cost so far for the fires in Southern California to be $2 billion. I would suggest that Congress subtract that amount to pay these costs from the billions for rebuilding Iraq. We need rebuilding in this state!