R.J. Smith, senior environmental scholar at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, pointed out on the August 2 CNN “Live This Morning” show that the “30-mile fire” isn’t the first time the Endangered Species Act had proved instrumental in building the strength of a major fire.
Smith noted that in 1993, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials threatened residents of Riverside County, California, with substantial fines and jail time if they followed through on plans to create standard firebreaks from the brush around their homes. The USFWS claimed at the time that clearing the debris might adversely affect the endangered kangaroo rat.
Soon thereafter, a major fire broke out. Unencumbered by fire breaks, the fire burned 19 homes to the ground.