Editorial

More arson charges filed in forest fires

Monday, July 8, 2002

As wildfires in the West that have already scorched 500,000 acres of forests continued to burn, the shocking news that a second person intimately involved with preventing or stopping forest fires had been charged with deliberately setting one of the big fires in Arizona.

A resident of the Apache reservation in Arizona was charged last week with setting the fire in an attempt to get work as a firefighter.

About 1,000 residents of the reservation have contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to fight forest fires part-time as needed.

In this case, the suspected arsonist got his wish. He was one of the first to be hired to fight the second of two fires he is accused of setting -- a fire that quickly grew out of hand when it merged with a blaze that was started when a lost hiker tried to signal for help.

These latest charges come on the heels of previous accusations against a U.S. Forest Service employee who says she accidentally set one of the big fires in Colorado when she burned a letter from her former husband. Authorities say they can prove she deliberately set the fire.

For all of the debate about modern-day forest management, it is a sad day indeed when fires are deliberately set by those entrusted with protecting us from such catastrophes.

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