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Are Weak Laws to Blame for Wildfires?

An op-ed columnist says tougher laws could help reduce wildfires by limiting risky activities during hot weather.

As San Diegans know well, when it gets hot, residents are often asked—sometimes required—to reduce how much water they use to conserve. But should these requirements go further in restricting what people do when it's hot to prevent wildfires?

A New York Times op-ed columnist points to a series of human-caused wildfires in arguing that greater restrictions on human acts could help curb the annual string of wildfires throughout the country, especially Southern California.

"Too often, federal, state and local fire authorities choose to issue 'advisories,' suggesting guidelines for behavior in fire-prone areas rather than doing the tough business of rewriting laws." -- John N. Maclean (Oct. 19, 2012)

Though sometimes harsh penalties come down on negligent individuals—such as four years in prison for a man who sparked a fire while mowing his lawn despite warnings not to do so—more needs to be done, Maclean says.

So what do you think? Do we need tougher laws that restrict what people can do when it's hot to reduce the chances of wildfire?

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