5 ‘surprising’ areas where wildfire risk is rising

Source: The Hill


The deadly fire that killed at least 114 people on the island of Maui represents the arrival of a new era of fire threat for the Hawaiian Islands — and beyond.

The ruins of Lahaina, the tourist town nestled against the Pacific Ocean that was leveled by the blaze, now stand as a grim monument to the expanding geography of American wildfire.

“We’re starting to see fires happen in more and more places that seem surprising to us — because our expectations are based on previous decades,” said Philip Higuera, a fire ecologist at the University of Montana.

Higuera said that Americans’ view of fires — and fire risk — is heavily weighted toward where fires happened throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, which chiefly means the forested slopes of the Rocky and Cascade Mountains.

For all their occasional immense size, those 20th century Western fires had certain core characteristics that limited how risky they were — mainly that they burned through wild lands far from settlements. 

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