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Opinion: It’s time for Californians to stop building in areas prone to wildfires

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks about climate change at a summit near Paris on Dec. 12.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks about climate change at a summit near Paris on Dec. 12.
(Eric Feferberg / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: In discussing Gov. Jerry Brown’s valid predictions about the threat of wildfires due to climate change and other factors, columnist George Skelton mentions that homeowners in wildfire-prone areas should pay for more fire protection. (“Gov. Jerry Brown warns climate change has us ‘on the road to hell.’ California’s wildfires show he’s on to something,” Dec. 14)

The main problem, however, is that one-third of Americans live in the “wildland-urban interface” areas prone to wildfires, with 1 million homes and businesses worth $140 billion considered to be at high or very high risk of wildfires.

With the recent California “megafires” — wildfires that burn more than 100,000 acres, accounting for only 3% of all wildfires but 90% of areas burned — and the wildfire season now 10 weeks longer than in 1972, Californians need to reconsider whether to build or rebuild in the wildland-urban interface areas.

Firefighters do courageous work, but it’s time to ask whether the human and monetary costs are worth the risks.

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Bob Ladendorf, Los Angeles

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To the editor: According to Brown, the raging fires we have experienced for the last two weeks are the result of climate change and should be looked upon as the “new normal.”

Since the Skirball fire in West L.A. was determined likely to have been caused by a cooking fire in a homeless encampment in the area, one would hope that the governor would put more effort into dealing with the affordable housing crisis.

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Or is this another “new normal” for California?

Janet Polak, Beverly Hills

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