With no one at all certain as to what triggered the latest round of deadly forest fires in California, the finger pointing has already begun.

The Trump Administration has suggested that California has done a poor job with forest management. Recent reports estimate the forest floors are littered with more than 129 million dead trees, overgrown vegetation and shrubs in bad need of clearing. Environmental groups such as the Sierra Club have fought hard to stop logging on public lands, and even limit what thinning can occur on private lands.

Santa Ana winds that whip the state make it difficult at best to contain raging fires, and drought conditions certainly contribute to the problem. Common sense dictates that under warm, dry windy conditions, in an area already prone to forest and brush fires, that every effort should be made to clear away potential fuel for these mammoth fires.

Wildfire Grows Rapidly In California's Lake County
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California has dealt with forest fires for as far back as recorded time can measure. Many of the fires are sparked by lightning. Arson and accident can also be blamed for starting a fair share of the fires. In fact, there are reports that sparks from a utility company may have ignited the deadliest of the most recent fires that still burn out of control.

To his credit, California Governor Jerry Brown, while insisting that global warming is at least partly responsible for creating conditions that allow these fires to spread so rapidly, agrees that everything should be on the table at this time, including better forest management. There is a start.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the construction of new homes in danger zones. Whether they be near fire or flood zones, ultimately the taxpayer is left holding the bag when personal property is destroyed by natural disasters.

Missouri Confronts Major Flooding in 16 Counties as Rivers Crest
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Everyone wants a beautiful home deep in the woods, along the river or at the shore, but when Mother Nature lashes out, it is the public who bail out the victims, whether through rescue costs or insurance premiums.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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