Firefighters and policemen have always been my heroes. This week, 19 brave firefighters gave their lives trying to save houses from a forest fire burning through 40 years of accumulated brush. Arizona is not the only place where this happens. It happens wherever there are forested areas where people build homes. Once a home is built, the brush that naturally burns off in small wildfires begins to accumulate. Small fires are continuously extinguished to save homes until an explosive situation develops and firefighters are placed into ever more dangerous situations.

If I built my home in a dry lake bed and heavy rains refilled the lake, would it be the responsibility of the government to rescue my home from the rising water? Of course not; I should not have built my house in a lake bed. Yet people build their homes in the paths of naturally occurring, even predictable wildfires, expecting these fires to be extinguished.

People should never be placed in harm's way to extinguish a wildfire. If the fire can't be extinguished from the relative safety of an airplane, it should be allowed to burn.

MARK PUPEZA, Minneapolis