CU Boulder study finds people are behind costly, increasing risk of wildfire to millions of homes
People are starting almost all the wildfires that threaten U.S. homes, according to an innovative new analysis combining housing and wildfire data. Through activities like debris burning, equipment use and arson, humans were responsible for igniting 97 percent of home-threatening wildfires, a CU Boulder-led team reported this week in the journal Fire.
Moreover, one million homes sat within the boundaries of wildfires in the last 24 years, the team found. That’s five times previous estimates, which did not consider the damage done and threatened by small fires. Nearly 59 million more homes in the wildland-urban interface lay within a kilometer of fires.
“We have vastly underestimated the wildfire risk to our homes,” said lead author Nathan Mietkiewicz, who led the research as a postdoc in Earth Lab, part of CIRES at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We’ve been living with wildfire risk that we haven’t fully understood.”
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