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The fires in the Bitterroot area of Montana are not the whole picture [ENVIRONMENT, Aug. 21]. Living here in Missoula, we are surrounded by flames. Today the smoke is choking, and the air is very still. The people here and in all the surrounding communities know what the term neighbor really means. I also want to thank all the men and women who have left their homes to come here and save our backyards. I have talked to many on the front lines who are overwhelmed by the abundant wildlife we have here. I wish that they could see how beautiful it is--or was. Unfortunately, we will lose a lot of our wildlife, as very young animals are unable to flee and songbirds are silenced forever by the choking smoke. Thank God no humans have yet lost their lives in Montana. CATHI H. ALLEN Missoula, Mont.
Forrest Hayes, the retired district forest ranger quoted in your story, is right to criticize developers and Realtors for building homes near combustible landscapes like national forests, thus putting firefighters at unnecessary risk. Forest fires are devastating mostly to private landowners, the silly people who risked building their homes in heavily wooded areas, and to those who don't understand disturbance ecology. I chose to live in central Illinois, and if a tornado threatens my life and property, I have no one to blame but myself. PAUL K. STRODE Urbana, Ill.
TREASURE IN A BROTHEL
Thank you for your article on the Dumas brothel in Butte, Mont., and attempts to restore the 19th century building as a museum of prostitution history [AMERICAN SCENE, Aug. 14]. As a high school history teacher, I believe it is important to keep real social history alive. The treasures of our past (no matter how unseemly to some) must not be allowed to disappear. Too many people find history boring because they think it is all about presidential politics, acts of Congress and wars. And while those things are important, the daily lives and experiences of the men and women who actually built and settled this country are just as important. This is our past, folks! Let's try to appreciate it--for whatever it's worth. FRANK PORTO New Haven, Conn.
Hats off to the pop-music websites Riffage.com and iCAST.com which specialize in finding unsigned bands and offer guidance in locating high-quality performers [ONLINE, Aug. 14]! I'm more than happy to see that real music will finally get a break. With the help of these websites, people will realize that the best music isn't necessarily found in record stores. JEAN-BENOIT FOURNIER, age 16 Cap-Rouge, Que.
BLAME FOR DEADLY TIRES
If it's true, as alleged by public citizen president Joan Claybrook, that for years Firestone has settled failed-tire claims out of court and included gag orders preventing plaintiffs from reporting the incidents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, then the company is guilty of far more than making faulty tires [BUSINESS, Aug. 21]. Such behavior deserves legal prosecution, not just bad press and financial setbacks. Bankruptcy might suffice. Firestone's attorneys should be hung out to dry too. RON CARLSON Lakeland, Minn.