92 Western Communities Are At Risk For Deadly Wildfires

Jul 25, 2019

A recent analysis by the news outlet Arizona Republic shows a number of communities across our region are at risk for deadly wildfires.

 

The analysis used Paradise, California as a baseline — that was the site of the devastating Camp Fire last year that killed 85 people and destroyed 19,000 buildings. 

It found that 92 communities in the Mountain West have a higher wildfire hazard potential than Paradise. 

“They’re places where people are electing to live among deeply forested environments — or even chaparral areas like Elko, Nevada — where fire can burn fast, and spread from home to home,” says Ren Larson, the data journalist who completed the analysis.  

Larson looked at several factors that we don’t always think about when considering wildfire dangers. For example, communities with more elderly residents who have a harder time evacuating. The median age of people who died in the Camp Fire was 72. She also factored in mobile home communities — those  structures tend to be closer together, so they can burn more easily.

Larson emphasizes the risks can be minimized — things like forest thinning, updating emergency notification systems and requiring fire-safe building materials. 

Find reporter Amanda Peacher on Twitter @amandapeacher.

Copyright 2019 Boise State Public Radio

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho,  KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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