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Government failure in preventing, fighting wildfires 'unarguable,' Mitt Romney says

SALT LAKE CITY โ€” U.S. Senate candidate Mitt Romney called for more controlled burns and logging Tuesday to prevent forest fires that are plaguing the West, including Utah and California.

In an essay posted on his campaign website, the former Republican presidential nominee said it's "high time" government do something about wildfires that this year have have killed 10 people, consumed hundreds of homes and infringed upon freedom of movement for hundreds of thousands.

"Government's failure is unarguable," he wrote.

A fire in Sanpete County prompted evacuations for residents of Blackhawk Estates in Fairview on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Spencer Cox

A fire in Sanpete County prompted evacuations for residents of Blackhawk Estates in Fairview on Monday, August 6, 2018.

Romney said the essay is meant to explain a tweet he posted last October as fires burned across the West:

"Uncontrolled fires, loss of lives & property = failure of prime govt responsibility, underinvestment in helos, planes, personnel, systems."

Romney said he knows some environmentalists would oppose controlled burns and logging to thin forests and remove dead timber, but wrote that he believes common ground can be found given the human costs, loss of animal life, devastation of habitat, subsequent erosion and air and water pollution.

A plane drops fire retardant as firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in the Cleveland National Forest near Corona, Calif. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Firefighters are working in rugged terrain amid scorching temperatures that have prompted warnings about excessive heat and extreme fire danger for much of the region.

Watchara Phomicinda, The Orange County Register

A plane drops fire retardant as firefighters continue to battle a wildfire in the Cleveland National Forest near Corona, Calif. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Firefighters are working in rugged terrain amid scorching temperatures that have prompted warnings about excessive heat and extreme fire danger for much of the region.

He also called for a high-tech detection system โ€” whether satellite, drone or sensor โ€” to monitor "every square mile" of high risk territory, to spot fires before they grow to uncontrollable size.

Romney also wants "regional response hubs" across the West with more airplanes, helicopters and trained firefighters.

"Relying on county and town fire departments, which are often understaffed and inadequately equipped, to find and extinguish wildfires until they grow massive enough to qualify for federal fire resources, is no longer acceptable," he said.

Romney does not say in the essay how he would pay for his proposals.