“I fly back and forth across the country and I see it,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the nation’s top wildfire managers during a meeting in May at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. “We should be holding these people accountable, and we’re not.” Most of the homes have been erected in recent decades. More examples can be found in Santa Clarita, Calif., where a wildfire in mountains north of Los Angeles recently forced 20,000 people from their homes. Most residents were cleared to return on Tuesday, but the flames kept burning in the rugged terrain where many houses are tucked into canyon lands.
What federal officials do say publicly — and often — is that homeowners in wild areas need to create defensible space to protect their homes. “We each have to take personal responsibility,” Jewell said.
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