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Western Wildfires Destroying More Homes Per Square Mile Burned

Western Wildfires Destroying More Homes Per Square Mile Burned

More than three times as many houses and other structures burned in Western wildfires in 2010-2020 than in the previous decade, and that wasn’t only because more acreage burned, a new analysis has found. Human ignitions started 76 percent of the wildfires that destroyed structures, and those fires tended to be in flammable areas where homes, commercial structures, and outbuildings are increasingly common.

Climate change, more buildings near flammable vegetation, and accidental human ignitions contributed to wildfires’ increased destructiveness
Wednesday, February 1, 2023

“Shifting social-ecological fire regimes explain increasing structure loss from Western wildfires” in PNAS-Nexus was co-authored by Higuera, Maxwell Cook, Jennifer Balch, Natasha Stavros, and Lise St. Dennis from CIRES Earth Lab, and Adam Mahood, now an ecologist with the Agricultural Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture in Fort Collins.

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