New Climate Study: Wildfires Will Burn 9.3 Million Acres Per Year Nationally; Yet Millions Continue to Move to High-Risk Areas

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By Paul Bergman

As 2020’s historic wildfire season ends with millions of acres charred and thousands of homes destroyed, a new study from ClimateCheck, a company that brings climate risk data to the individual property level, shows that the problem will increasingly worsen in the coming years with 9.3 million acres burned nationally each year by 2050. Moreover, according to the data, people continue migrating in high numbers to areas that are most at risk for future wildfires, with six among the fastest-growing counties in the country.


Overall, 14 of the top counties with the highest fire risk experienced growth, with six experiencing growth that put them in the top 15 percent fastest growing counties in the country.

“There are many reasons people continue to run into the fire,” said Skylar Olsen, economic advisor to ClimateCheck. “Whether pushed to the periphery by affordability concerns or pulled there by the value of space, a more natural world and a slower pace, many are attracted to more rural areas for affordable options outside of large- or medium-sized cities with job availability. But more growth in these areas won’t stop wildfires — building into the wildland-urban interface will put more homes and people at risk. 


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