Thank you for your editorial on our wildland firefighting priorities ("Change attitudes about fighting wildfires," July 7). The tragic death of 19 hotshot firefighters in Arizona eerily shadows the death of 13 smokejumpers who died under similar circumstances in 1949, as documented by Norman Maclean in his book, "Young Men and Fire." Over 60 years have gone by and we still repeat the same avoidable mistakes.
Homes near wildlands can be built of cement block and metal to withstand fires. This is not rocket science. Until that day comes, we should not squander our best and bravest defending buildings built of wood. As you rightly point out, this only serves the insurance companies.
For what it's worth, I watched my family's barn burn in a grass fire 30 years ago because we neglected to mow. I was alone and saved the house but could not save the barn too. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.