Government leaders could learn a lesson for firefighters.
Cooperation between federal, state and local fire agencies has been pivotal in quelling an overwhelming number of recent fires in Utah and other Western states, said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman at a press conference Friday in Denver."There have been no turf battles. Everyone is working together," said Glickman.
They've had little choice.
This year's wildfire season has been the most severe in recent history - burning more than 2 million acres. About 10,000 firefighters were battling fires in six states Friday.
The feds are responding, said Glickman.
"We have equipment strategically placed throughout the country, ready to respond quickly to urgent situations," said Glickman. "In anticipation of the fire season, the Clinton administration has released an extra $100 million for firefighting and requested an additional $109.5 million for firefighting next year."
Fire has destroyed nearly 400 homes and structures in recent weeks. Some were lost "because there had not been good forest management," said Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
Babbitt encouraged folks living in high-risk fire areas to create defensible space areas around their homes to foil spreading flames. "Put some sweat equity into your home, use pruning shears on (nearby) trees and rake out ground cover," he said.
Agencies also need to do a better job preventing fires by keeping highly flammable vegetation accumulations in check, said Babbitt.
"One of the reasons we've experienced such severe fire seasons in recent years is that for most of the last century we have not allowed fire to play its natural role in the environment," said Babbitt.
When asked about a federal ban on fireworks, Babbitt said any restrictions should be legislated by state and local agencies.