Letters to the Editor: Homes burn because of embers, not trees. Fire policy ignores that

Firefighters stand in the remains of a house burned in the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in 2018.
Fire crews put out hot spots left behind in the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif., in 2018.
(Mason Trinca / For The Times)

To the editor: Thanks to the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board for providing a needed voice of reason in response to the wildfire crisis. The Times addressed what the state of California has continually refused to do about the actual reason why so many lives and homes are lost during wildfires.

Every devastating wildfire in California has been driven by wind and drought, now made worse by climate change. As the winds blow, embers can fly miles ahead of the fire front. It’s these embers that ignite most homes.

The condition of forests, often far from burning communities, has next to nothing to do with it.


Agencies like CalFire and the U.S. Forest Service should look at the devastation and acknowledge that the habitat clearance approach they continue to advocate has failed to protect our communities. Instead, we must focus on making neighborhoods and towns themselves fire-safe and ember-resistant, regardless of what the entrenched interests advocate.

Richard Halsey, Escondido

The writer is director of the California Chaparral Institute.


To the editor: Thank you for supporting house hardening and wildfire science that helps nature. We also need to focus on discouraging construction in areas prone to wildfires.

I live in Big Rock in Malibu, and we are constantly under the threat of wildfire when Santa Ana winds blow through our fire corridors. Still, the city continuously allows large additions and builds in our community despite the wildfire and landslide threat.

We need the state to ban development in these zones. Most of us in California live on the edge of disaster, and we need our government officials to look out for us and not encourage further development.


Jo Drummond, Malibu