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.
“Humans are driving the negative impacts from wildfire,” concluded lead author Philip Higuera, a fire ecologist and professor at the University of Montana, who wrote the assessment during a sabbatical at CIRES and CU Boulder. “Human fingerprints are all over this—we influence the when, the where, and the why.”
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