Residents in some parts of Colorado have been having ill effects for weeks, from smoke in the air from forest fires in the NW, (Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington.) The US forest Service and other agencies have elected to let these fires burn until they are put out by natural means. Meanwhile, my asthma has worsened, due to unhealthy air conditions.
Can I, as a citizen, sue the US government for aggravating my asthma condition, by pursuing it's "let it burn" policy? I most certainly am not enjoying, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and my health is being compromised.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You can sue, but you can't win. The government didn't start the fires; it is simply not stopping them. It does not owe you a duty to extinguish a fire far away from you. The government believes that letting forest fires burn is good policy, and it is allowed to make that kind of decision.
The fire is not interfering with your rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Even if it was, only the government is forbidden to so interfere and the fire is not the government.